Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Background to the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (UK) 1900

Original settlement in Australia was under military law, for the purpose of penal colonies. Gradually private settlement grew until by the mid 1800’s, 5 states were colonized – SA, QLD, NSW, Vic & Tas, with private settlement existing in WA under Crown Colonies.
In 1885, the Federal Council of Australasia was formed, consisting of Vic, Tas, QLD & SA , and included the Crown Colonies of WA & Fiji.
This Council dealt mainly with matters of trade between the various colonies. Constitutional Conventions began in the late 1880’s and the final referendum was held in June 1899.
After some changes were made by the British Parliament, The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK) was passed on 5 July 1900 and given Royal Assent by Queen Victoria on 9 July 1900. On 1 January 1901 the Proclamation of the Commonwealth of Australia was held in Centennial Park, Sydney.
The new Act was an act of the British Parliament as well as ratification of the Constitution of Australia.

The Preamble to the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK)
Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessings of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established; And whereas it is expedient to provide for the admission into the Commonwealth of other Australasian Colonies and possessions of the Queen; Be it therefore enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same…….

To Clarify
We must all remember that the words of the Preamble were carefully chosen after over 10 years of conventions, public discussion & referendums, so those words are vital to understand.
1. The People – not parliament or government or councils or public servants.
2. from NSW, VIC, SA, QLD & TAS – with the allowance of admitting other Australasian colonies (such as WA)
3. humbly – without pride
4. relying – depending and trusting
5. on the blessings – guardianship, protection and favour
6. of Almighty God – therefore the people included God in this agreement
7. agreed – came to a common consent and understanding
8. to unite – join together, make one, combine
9. under one – beneath a single
10. indissoluble – that which can not be dissolved, undone or destroyed
11. Federal – a league or compact between two or more states.
12. Commonwealth – where the states retain powers of self-government in respect to the states concerns, but form an integral part of a larger government or nation.
13. under the Crown – sovereign power in the monarchy, especially in relation to the punishment of crimes
14. of the United Kingdom & Ireland
15. and under the Constitution hereby established – the organic and fundamental law of a nation, establishing the character and conception of its government, laying the basic principles to which its internal life is to be conformed, organizing the government, and regulating, distributing and limiting the functions of its different departments and prescribing the extent and manner of the exercise of sovereign powers.
16. enacted – established by law and decree
17. by the Queens’s Most Excellent Majesty – Queen Victoria
18. and with the advice – opinion, instructions
19. and consent – agreement
20. of the Lords Spiritual – the archbishops and bishops who have seats in the house of lords
21. and Temporal – those lay person who have seats in the house of lords
22. and Commons – the class of subjects of Great Britain who are not members of the royal family and nobility, and are represented in the house of commons.
23. in this great parliament assembled – all of them together
24. and by the authority of the same – by the legal power, right to command of the whole parliament.

Put together….
The people of the five independent colonies, depending on the protection and favour of Almighty God, consented to join together beneath a single indestructible agreement, wherein the independent colonies joined together to form a combined government, still allowing for state concerns, with the Queen as the sovereign authority for crimes and the foundation laws of the Constitution providing the structure of the government.
A very simple, easily understood agreement.

Why is God in the Constitution?
The Queen is the head of the Church of England.
She holds our constitutional power.
The Oath of office taken by all politicians, which is a pledge to the Queen.
Every year before the start of the legal year, all justices and barristers go to church to uphold that part of their oath.

Common Law and The Crown
The Queen’s authority particularly lay in the matter of the punishment of crime using common law.
The ancestry of common law lies in the Ten Commandments and is the ancient unwritten law of England.
It is the principles and rules of action, relating to the security of persons and property.
It is not, has never been and can not be Roman law, modern civil law, canon law, maritime law, kangaroo law or any other system.

The Governor-General
Because the Queen did not reside in Australia, she placed her representative in the form of the Governor-General here.
His role was to approve any change to the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK) in the form of a Referendum and/or a Law.
The difference between a Law and Legislation being that –
* a Bill is raised in the Lower House, debated and discussed. If passed, this bill goes to
* the Senate, which must cross-reference the bill with the Constitution to make sure the bill does not interfere with it in any way. Once approved the bill goes to the
* Governor-General for approval. He then stamps it with the Seal of the Crown.
* That Law cannot be amended or changed without the same process in place. Legislation however, is a matter of government decision-making and can change from day to day, as the government wishes.
In the event a person feels that the legislation has removed his Constitutional rights, he may take it to court.
The final arbiter being the High Court of Australia, who are charged with the protection of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution.
Please note however, they are also the guardians of the State Constitutions.

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