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!

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