The Australian Constitution has properly been described as 'the birth certificate of a nation'. It also provides the basic rules for the government of Australia. The Australian Constitution. View the Constitution as a single document (PDF 92KB). Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act. Covering Clauses · Short title. Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act CCXN PDF Document: MB · Primary Document Icon · CCXN ZIP Document.
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peculiar character of the Australian Constitution, when compared with other writ- the comparative constitutional law debate into the Australian context is that. Full text of the Australian Constitution - available in chapters, on a single Full Text (Including Amendments) On One Page · Full Text – Downloadable PDF. The Australian Constitution was drafted at a series of constitutional conventions held in the s. It was passed by the British Parliament as part of the.
Forty-four proposals to amend the Constitution have been voted on at referendums, of which eight have been approved.
The following is a list of amendments which have been approved. Alongside the text of the Constitution, the Statute of Westminster and the Australia Acts, and letters patent issued by the Crown, conventions are an important aspect of the Constitution, which have evolved over the decades and define how various constitutional mechanisms operate in practice.
Conventions play a powerful role in the operation of the Australian constitution because of its set-up and operation as a Westminster system of responsible government. Some notable conventions include:. However, because conventions are not textually based, their existence and practice are open to debate.
Real or alleged violation of convention has often led to political controversy. The most extreme case was the Australian constitutional crisis of , in which the operation of conventions was seriously tested.
A number of conventions were said to be broken during this episode. These include:. In line with the common law tradition in Australia, the law on the interpretation and application of the Constitution has developed largely through judgments by the High Court of Australia in various cases.
In a number of seminal cases, the High Court has developed several doctrines which underlie the interpretation of the Australian Constitution. Some examples include:. The vast majority of constitutional cases before the High Court deal with characterisation: The Australian Constitution does not include a Bill of Rights.
Some delegates to the Constitutional Convention favoured a section similar to the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution , but the majority felt that the traditional rights and freedoms of British subjects were sufficiently guaranteed by the Parliamentary system and independent judiciary which the Constitution would create.
As a result, the Australian Constitution has often been criticised for its scant protection of rights and freedoms. There are also some guaranteed freedoms , reasons why legislation that might otherwise be within power may nonetheless be invalid.
These are not rights of individuals, but limitations upon legislative power. However, where legislation that would adversely affect an individual is found to be invalid for such a reason, the effect for the individual is similar to vindicating a right of that individual. There is one express "freedom".
There is also one implied right that is agreed upon by a majority judgment of the High Court. An implied right is one that is not written explicitly into the wording of the Constitution, but that the High Court has found to be implied by reading two or more sections together.
The implied right of freedom of political communication is discussed below. In addition to individual rights explicitly written into the Constitution and found to be implied by sections within it there is a final category of rights known as 'structural protections'.
Rather than being individual rights, these are broad protections for the community as a whole, taken from the systems and principles created by and underpinning the text and structure of the Constitution as a whole. One of the more well-known of these protections is the community right to a democratically elected parliament, commonly thought of as a limited "right" to vote, which is discussed below.
Attempts in High Court cases to find further implied rights or freedoms have not been successful. Implication of a freedom of association and a freedom of assembly, independently or linked to that of political communication, has received occasional judicial support but not from a majority in any case.
The term head of state does not appear in the Australian constitution. It is conventionally acknowledged to be the Queen, since the governor-general and the state governors are defined as her "representatives".
Amongst the amendments proposed to the Constitution over the years, two proposals for major change have been prominent in recent decades, and both were considered, and defeated, in the referendum. While a pro forma preamble prefaces the Imperial Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act , the Australian Constitution itself does not contain a preamble.
There have been some calls for the insertion of such a section to express the spirit and aspirations embodied in the constitution. However, there has been fierce opposition, usually on the basis of the content of the preamble, as well as possible legal ramifications of this text. In , a proposed preamble, principally authored by John Howard , the then Prime Minister , was defeated in a referendum held concurrently with the Republic referendum.
The "Yes" vote in favour of the insertion of the preamble did not achieve a majority in any of the six states. At various times since Federation, debates have occurred over whether Australia should become a republic. On 6 November , Australians rejected a proposal to remove the Queen and replace the Governor-General with a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament.
Constitution Day is celebrated on 9 July,  the date the Constitution became law in The date is not a public holiday. Constitution Day was first held on 9 July to mark the centenary of the Constitution in the lead up to the Centenary of Federation , although commemorations were low key and were not widely held after Constitution Day was revived in and is jointly organised by the National Archives of Australia , which holds the original Constitution documents, and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The Crown. Elizabeth II Governor-General: Sir Peter Cosgrove. Prime Minister: Scott Morrison. Deputy Prime Minister: Michael McCormack.
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Legislation UK: Archived from the original on 8 March Retrieved 9 November Federal Register of Legislation. Retrieved 12 November Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General.
Retrieved 15 January Parliamentary Library, Department of Parliamentary Services. Archived from the original on 7 March The Truth of the Matter. Melbourne University Press. Archived from the original on 9 January Archived from the original on 16 April PRS, Dept. Archived from the original PDF on 13 September National Archives of Australia.
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This is the so-called 'Nexus', which is designed to prevent swamping of the senate's power in the case of a joint sitting see Section 57 below. The number of electorates in a State is to be roughly proportional to its share of the national population.
Part IV "Both Houses of the Parliament" deals with eligibility for voting and election to the parliament, parliamentary allowances, parliamentary rules and related matters. Part V deals with the powers of the parliament. Section 51 deals with powers of the Commonwealth parliament and are called "specific powers". These contain "concurrent powers", in the sense that both the Commonwealth and States can legislate on these subjects, although federal law prevails in the case of inconsistency Section Of the thirty-nine elements of section 51, a few have become critical in determining the scope of Commonwealth government action, including the Trade and Commerce Power , the Corporations Power and the External Affairs Power.
Section 52 deals with powers exclusively vested in the Commonwealth parliament. States cannot legislate on these subjects. Under this Chapter, the Governor-General is the commander in chief, and may appoint and dismiss the members of the Executive Council, ministers of state, and all officers of the executive government.
These powers, along with the powers to dissolve or refuse to dissolve parliament Section 5, Section 57 , are termed " reserve powers ", and their use is dictated by convention.
Generally, the Governor-General acts only on the advice of the Prime Minister. One notable instance of the Governor-General acting outside the advice of the Prime Minister of the day, when Governor-General Sir John Kerr, acting on his own authority, dismissed Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in the Australian constitutional crisis.
Reserve powers in all Westminster nations are only extremely rarely exercised outside of the understood conventions. However, in contrast with the constitutions of other Commonwealth realms such as Canada which formally grant extensive reserve powers to the Monarch,[ citation needed ] even the formal powers of the Queen of Australia are extremely limited, and most powers are only exercisable by the Governor-General.
Section 68 states that the command of Australia's naval and military forces is vested in the Governor-General as the Queen's representative. This role, however, is only formal such as the commissioning of officers and ceremonial; actual control of the armed forces rests with the government.
Section 71 vests judicial power in a "Federal Supreme Court" to be called the High Court of Australia , and such other federal courts as Parliament creates, and in such other courts as Parliament invests with federal jurisdiction. Such courts are called " Chapter III Courts " and are the only courts that can exercise federal judicial power. Sections 73 and 75—78 outline the original and appellate jurisdiction of the High Court. Section 74 provides for the circumstances in which an appeal can be made to the Queen in Council.
Section 79 allows Parliament to prescribe the number of judges able to exercise federal jurisdiction and section 80 guarantees trial by jury for indictable offences against the Commonwealth. Section 81 prescribes that all Commonwealth revenue shall form the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Parliament can make laws as to the appropriations of money Section Unlike most other powers of the parliament, laws made under the appropriations power are not ordinarily susceptible to effective legal challenge. Section 90 gives the Commonwealth exclusive power over duties of custom and excise. Section 92 provides that "trade, commerce, and intercourse among the States shall be absolutely free". The precise meaning of this phrase is the subject of a considerable body of law.
Some of the most recent case law has emphasised that Section 92 is preoccupied with the effect of law on interstate trade, not on the effect law has on individual traders.
This power has been held to be unconstrained by any other provision, such as Section 99 which forbids giving preference to one State or part thereof over another State or part thereof. It is subject only to Section , freedom of religion , and possibly other such freedoms.
This power, although evidently envisaged as a temporary measure "during a period of ten years Section sets up an Inter-State Commission , a body which is now defunct, but which was originally envisaged to have a significant role in the federal structure.
Chapter V: The States[ edit ] Chapter V contains provisions dealing with the States and their role under the federal system. Sections — preserves the Constitution, powers of the Parliament, and the laws in force of each of the States. Section provides that, where a State law is inconsistent with a federal law, the federal law prevails to the extent of the inconsistency. Section provides that a State can surrender any part of the State to the Commonwealth.
This has occurred on several occasions, most notably the surrender by South Australia to the Commonwealth of the Northern Territory. Section forbids any State from raising a military force, and also forbids the State or the Commonwealth from taxing each other's property.
Section establishes what is often called "freedom of religion", by forbidding the Commonwealth from making any law for the establishment of a religion, imposing any religious observance, or prohibiting the exercise of a religion, or religious discrimination for public office.
Section allows the Parliament to provide for the representation in Parliament of any territory surrendered by the States, or placed by the Queen in the authority of the Commonwealth. Section requires that changing the boundaries of a State requires the consent of the Parliament of that State and approval by referendum in that State. No new states have been admitted to the Commonwealth since federation. The national capital would thus be neither of the rival State capitals Sydney and Melbourne, but within a federal territory.
In New South Wales ceded to the Commonwealth what is now the Australian Capital Territory and Canberra , built within it, was declared the national capital in Section permits the Governor-General to appoint deputies. Section provided that "aboriginal natives" were not to be included in any Commonwealth, State or other count of population. This excluded the Indigenous population from affecting the distribution between the States of seats in the House of Representatives section Section was removed by referendum in Section provides that constitutional amendments must be approved by a referendum.
Amendment requires: approval of a referendum bill, containing the proposed amendment, by an absolute majority in each house of the federal parliament; and then approval of the bill in a referendum, by a majority of electors in each of a majority of the States that is, in at least four of the six States , as well as a majority nationwide that is, comprising voters in both States and Territories ; the franchise in a referendum is to be the same as that in an election to the House of Representatives.
The Governor-General must put the bill to a referendum between two and six months after it has been passed by the parliament. If the bill is approved in the referendum, it receives the Royal Assent and becomes law, so that the wording of the Constitution is changed. An exception to this process is if the bill is approved by only one house of the parliament—the other house rejecting it, failing to pass it or passing it with amendments to which the first house does not agree.
Ordinarily, the bill would have been introduced in the House of Representatives; the problem would be disagreement by the Senate. Then, after three months, the first house may pass the bill again.
If the other house still does not agree with the bill, then the Governor-General may put the bill to a referendum in the form in which it was passed by the first house, with any amendments to which the two houses may nevertheless have agreed. Section also provides that an amendment that would reduce the representation of a State in either house, or its minimum representation in the House of Representatives, or that would alter the boundaries of a State or make any similar change to the State, can be presented for Royal Assent only if it has been approved in that State.
A mechanism for the conduct of a referendum is provided by federal statute: Referendum Machinery Provisions Act Cth. See also: Oath of Allegiance Australia The Schedule sets out the wording of the oath and the affirmation of allegiance. In addition, when taking office, the Governor-General is required to take an oath of office, currently: I, name , do swear that I will well and truly serve Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors according to law, in the office of Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, and I will do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of the Commonwealth of Australia, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.
So help me God! While there is no legal requirement for this, it has been the practice from the inauguration of the Commonwealth in Forty-four proposals to amend the Constitution have been voted on at referendums, of which eight have been approved.