Australia is a constitutional monarchy created by the Majority of Electors of 1900. The Governor-General is Head of State and Elizabeth II is Sovereign.

Since the creation of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1900 the Crown of Australia has been worn by six monarchs: Victoria, Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI and Elizabeth II.

• CONSTITUTIONAL THOUGHT EXPERIMENT

‘Monarchy to Republic':  Whether or not to change the Australian Constitution from monarchy to republic is currently being thought through and discussed by Australian Electors.

Peoplepower: the Majority of Electors

200 years ago Napoleon’s master, Prince Talleyrand, said, “There is someone more intelligent than Voltaire, more powerful than the emperor–and that is the people.”

100 years later in 1900, this became true in Australia. Today, it is still one of the enduring truths of our Commonwealth.

The Majority of Electors was the original power in 1900 that created The Constitution and is still, the only power in Australia that can change The Constitution.

In contrast to other political realities like in Iraq, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Fiji or even the Vatican, the USA, India and China, the fact is that the Electors of Australia have been able to hold, without interruption, the ultimate constitutional power in Australia for over a hundred years!

This continuous record of peoplepower and political stability is unprecedented in modern world history.

 

 

Australia is the name given to an agreement between The Majority of Electors of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia to unite in one federation under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia.

So who really created what we now know as ‘Australia’?

On July 5, 1900, Australia was legally created by an Act of the Westminster Parliament known as the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act. The Act was proclaimed to commence on January 1, 1901.

At that time, the population of Australia was under four million and consisted of a number of colonies which regarded themselves as British. This Act was the product of a vision which began fifty years earlier in the self-governing colonies. The Constitution of Australia is also internationally regarded as one of the cleverest agreements ever designed.

It was crafted in Australia by our own people. It was a product, not of war nor of revolution, but of many years of business discussion, political debate, legal argument and peaceful referendum.

The First Convention

Two Conventions were held in 1891 and in 1897-98. Delegates to the 1891 Convention were appointed by the colonial parliaments and met in Sydney.

The Convention President was the Premier of New South Wales, Sir Henry Parkes whose image is still on today’s five dollar bill.

The draft of a Bill for a Constitution was approved by the Convention.

This Bill was drafted with the help of Sir Samuel Griffith, Premier of Queensland, who later became the First Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia.

The Second Convention

The second Convention was held in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne in 1897 and 1898. Delegates to this Convention were elected by the Majority of Electors.

 

Barriers between brothers: shall they remain?’  •  The Argus (Melbourne), 1 June 1898
Barriers between brothers: shall they remain?’ • The Argus (Melbourne), 1 June 1898

The document produced at this Convention became the new Constitution and many features coming from the first Convention were included.

In 1899, the draft of the Constitution was approved by the Majority of Electors in a state by state referendum–each held in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland. New Zealand which was represented at the first Convention did not join the Federation.

Western Australia voted to join in 1900. Thus, the Constitution was designed, not at Westminster but in Australia and by our own electors.

In the words of the Eleventh Chief Justice of the High Court, The Honourable Murray Gleeson AC: “The Commonwealth Constitution was not drafted by civil servants in London, and presented to the colonies on the basis that they could take it or leave it. Its terms were hammered out in Australia in a process of public debate, and political and legal negotiation, by the leading figures of the day.”

The Senate of the Parliament of Australia offers an online copy of The Constitution here and a picture of the founding document can be seen here.

cth1_72_cover_1900.jpg

The Third Convention

One hundred years later, in 1998, a third Convention was held. From 2-13 February 1998, 152 delegates from all over Australia met at Old Parliament House in Canberra to discuss whether Australia should become a republic.

Seventy-six of the delegates were elected by the Majority of Electors in a voluntary postal ballot. The other seventy-six were appointed by the parliament whose members were also chosen by the Majority of Electors.

The delegates come from every State and Territory and had a wide diversity of backgrounds and interests. The Convention was chaired by the Rt Hon Ian Sinclair MP, with the Hon Barry Jones AO MP as Deputy Chairman.

RESOLUTION:

It was finally resolved at the third Convention that a republican model of an appointed president be put to the people in a constitutional referendum.


 

OPTION PROPOSED:

On 5 November 1999, the Electors of Australia were asked:

“Do you agree with A proposed law to alter the constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a Republic with the Queen and Governor General being replaced by a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of members of the Commonwealth Parliament?”


RESULT:
The result of the constitutional referendum, as decided by the Majority of Electors, was: NO.


You can visit the Electors of Australia here …


You can visit the Governor General of Australia here …


You can visit the Queen of Australia here …


You can visit the Prime Minister of Australia here …

 

The Flag of Australia


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5 thoughts on “What is Australia?

  1. A short response to Clive: I’m not sure that “if it ain’t broke why fix it” & “who would trust politicians to appoint the right person anyway” are really “perceptive points of view”.
    The first comment reveals an odd, conservative attitude that seeks to stiffle innovation and progress. There was nothing wrong with the telephone system of communication – but we improved on it with the internet. It wasn’t “broke” but luckily some forward thinking people didn’t rest on their laurels. Having an Australian President, who actually knows something about this country, is certainly an improvement on a distant and uninterested monarch.
    Secondly, the “who would trust politicians” argument is illogical. The democratic system means that politicians are us. We are politicians – or at least we choose them and can, by majority, tell them what we want them to do, and throw them out if we think they aren’t doing that.
    So, in critical thinking terms, Clives first argument is an appeal to tradition and the second is illogical fear-mongering. If we can get past these, we can progress to a new, better Republican Australia.

  2. Barriers between brothers, shall they remain ????????? Is the question. One flag in the center and all united, is the answer and it says all about the inception of a country. What more can one see or say about the countries’ future. All of us are a witness to it.’ Long live Australia.’

  3. (Although my grandfather was born in Melbourne). I’m only an 8 year Australian resident. But have found this a truly great country with an abundance of fabulous people with great hearts.
    My hope is that one day all states and territories really unite and follow one law rather than the destructive “us and them” mentality that often rears its ugly head between them today.
    History reminds us that; “United we stand, divided we fall”.
    Perhaps a great (SOT) thinker will find a way to help bring this about.
    Sir William Slim once said; For an army to succeed it must have a great and noble purpose. A great country like Australia may find that really uniting is Australia’s Great and Noble Purpose.

  4. The prevailing sentiment of the electorate at the time was “if it ain’t broke why fix it” & “who would trust politicians to appoint the right person anyway”

    Very perceptive points of view in light of the farce we see operating in federal politics at the moment where a mainstream party in order to hang on to power panders to a party that can only muster 11.8% of the vote. Mind you the other party kow tows to only 3.7% of the vote.

    Our system is robust – the underlying ambitions of our citizens is an area that needs to be addressed – I believe we need to think differently and develop an ability to admire those of us whom are innovative and creative more as against the tradition of admiring sports stars.

    I find it interesting that founding fathers were men who had obviously experienced a lot of life when they drew up the document. Whether we would give similar people the respect they deserve now in a similar situation is a moot point.

    Though having said that their model endured despite the best efforts of the republicans in 1999. The people liked the balance it contained even if the issues that were important at the time (states rights) have shrunk in importance. The ability of the senate to represent different points of view is important to us all it seems.

  5. I think that in the Future at some point Aust will become a Republic

    i am not sure why Aust still prefer a C Monachy

    in a way it iis a symbolic ultimate authority