Sunday, 25 April 2004


The current Senate inquiry into an Australian Republic, headed up by half a dozen of our elected public servants, has failed to present an even balance from both sides of the republican debate.

To date, 28 of the 33 participants who have aired their views before the committee at a raft of public hearings in each of the state capitals (except Brisbane) are republican. Accordingly, the committee has shown a distinct reluctance to listen to anyone who opposes the introduction of an Australian republic. This will only result in a biased finding by the committee.

That said, there has been one positive result emerging from the hearing and that is that there needs to be better education about our constitutional arrangements. Not only do the people of Australia need to have better access to accurate material relating to our constitution but so do our elected public servants if some of the comments from the hearings are any guide.

At the Adelaide hearing on 19 May, Natasha Stott-Despoja posed the following question to one of the participants "Am I a subject of the Queen?". Fortunately, the person to whom she was posing the question put her on the right track. Had the Senator read and understood the Australian constitution she would have known that we are all subjects of the Queen as section 117 of the constitution asserts. Further, Gibbs CJ in the "Pochi v Macphee" case found that "The Allegiance which Australians owe to Her Majesty is owed not as British subjects but as subjects of the Queen of Australia" further confirms the constitutional reality.

It is a pity that the Senator does not understand our constitution but then again wasn't she the person who turned Canada into a republic by just moving her lips a few years back?

With the Darwin and Townsville hearings still to be undertaken at the end of June one wonders what other gems may come out of the hearings. Maybe a short sojourn in the warmer climes during the southern winter cold will help move things along.

Email Address:

Sunday, 11 April 2004


Bob Carr won't be holding a referendum on the latest proposed change to the New South Wales Constitution. In not holding a referendum, Mr Carr's commitment to full and open democracy falls well short of that of his federal counterpart, Mr Latham. Unlike the Commonwealth Constitution which requires a referendum for change, the anachronistic NSW constitution - apart from a few sections which protects the backsides of the NSW elected public servants - does not require a referendum for change at all! At the federal level, opposition leader Mark Latham has repeatedly indicated that he is developing plans to give democracy back to the people. Why don't we see any similar brainstorming by Bob Carr?

Professor Cheryl Saunders in her article "Updating our democracy" in the Sydney Morning Herald of 19 January 2001 stated "Fundamental rules about the acquisition of public power cannot confidently be left to those who presently hold power or have regular prospects of doing so". The NSW constitution dismally fails to meet the same the high standard of its Commonwealth counterpart in this respect. Even any incorporated association or company requires that a majority of its members approve of any changes to its rules. The NSW Constitution should be updated so that no changes can be made to that document without the approval of the people of NSW voting at a referendum. The way in which the NSW Parliament is required to operate should only be approved by the people of NSW and not by those who currently hold power.

That said, Mr Carr is continuing in his rush to break down our existing system of government without reference to the people; he booted the Governor out of Government House and now he intends to thumb his nose at the Queen of Australia by doing away with the oath of allegiance to her. As a Minister of the Crown he owes that allegiance; if he can't give that to our Queen then the people will never be able to believe him on anything at all even if they do so now!

With the Constitution Amendment (Pledge of Loyalty) Bill 2004 having progressed to the Ministerial second reading stage, it is now time for the Commonwealth Parliament to crack the whip and bring NSW into line as a fully democratic member of the Australian federation. Accordingly, the Commonwealth Government should hold a referendum in conjunction with the next federal election to amend section 106 of the Australian Constitution to require the States to only change their constitutions by referendum. The Commonwealth Government should also put an additional question to amend Section 15(1) of the Australia Acts to require that any changes to the Statute of Westminster and/or the Australia Acts only be changed by referendum. Proposed wording for these two changes can be obtained at (the PDF version can be downloaded at ). These changes would also require any new state to be similarly constitutionally bound.

Mr Carr is only making these changes because he can!

Email Address: