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A Constitution for an Australian Republic

Draft by Peter Crayson

Minimalist Constitution Model 1 - Nomination of the President by a Constitutional Council and Parliament Given the Option of Appointment of the President or Popular Election

This is essentially the same as my Minimalist Constitution Model 1, except that it has been made a little easier to read through the editing out of textual devices used to indicate amendments (i.e., strikeout and bold typefaces), the renumbering of sections, the contemporisation of punctuation and spelling, and the shifting of the Preamble and covering clauses into the main body of the Constitution. This is presented as an example only of what a republican Constitution might look like, and as such only the first few sections of the Constitution are presented. Note that numbering of sections begins at 1 at the start of each Chapter. Thus, each section is uniquely identified by referring to its Chapter, Part and section number, which might be abbreviated as s.1(3).7 (meaning Chapter I, Part III, Section 7) or s.3.1 (meaning Chapter III, Section 1). This makes any updates and consequent renumbering much tidier. For reference purposes, numbers in brackets (e.g., [9]) refer to section numbers as used in my Minimalist Constitution Model 1.


[Click here to see summarised comments on significant amendments.]

[Click here to see a list of suggested future amendments.]


COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA CONSTITUTION

An Act To Constitute the Commonwealth of Australia as a Republic

Whereas the indigenous people of Australia had continuously owned and occupied the land and established a rich cultural heritage over many tens of thousands of years and had exercised hegemony over the land until British colonisation commenced on the twenty-sixth day of January, 1788;

And whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, agreed to unite on the first day of January, 1901 in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland;

And whereas sovereignty resides in the People of Australia, from whom the legal and moral authority of this Constitution is drawn:

We, the People of Australia, finding unity in diversity, acknowledging the equality of all before the law, believing in liberty, equity and fairness, and declaring ourselves to be a sovereign and independent democracy based on the principles of responsible and accountable government, the rule of law and the separation of powers, have decided to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic.

Be it therefore enacted as follows:


Preliminary

1. This Act may be cited as the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act.

Short title.

2. The provisions of this Act referring to the Crown refer to the body politic in general as organised for civil rule and government, and extend to the body politic of the Commonwealth, the bodies politic of the States, the bodies politic of the Territories of the Commonwealth, and any other such bodies politic as may be constituted according to law from time to time.

Any powers or functions vested in the Crown shall, subject to this Constitution and to law, be vested in the President, and any reference to the Crown as a person shall be deemed to be a reference to the President.

Definition of the Crown.

3.The people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, and Western Australia, shall be united in a Federal Commonwealth under the name of the Commonwealth of Australia.

4. The Commonwealth shall be established, and the Constitution of the Commonwealth shall take effect, on and after the first day of January, 1901.

Establishment of Commonwealth.

5. This Act, and all laws made by the Parliament of the Commonwealth under the Constitution, shall be binding on the courts, judges, and people of every State and of every part of the Commonwealth, notwithstanding anything in the laws of any State.

Operation of the Constitution and laws.

6."The Commonwealth" shall mean the Commonwealth of Australia as established under this Act.

"The States" shall mean such of New South Wales, New Zealand, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia, including the northern territory of South Australia, as for the time being are parts of the Commonwealth, and such territories as may be admitted into or established by the Commonwealth as States; and each of such parts of the Commonwealth shall be called "a State".

"Original States" shall mean such States as are parts of the Commonwealth at its establishment.

Definitions.

7. This Constitution is divided as follows:

Chapter I - The Parliament.

Part I - General.
Part II - The Senate.
Part III - The House of Representatives.
Part IV - Both Houses of the Parliament.
Part V - Powers of the Government.
Chapter II - The Executive Government.
Part I - The President.
Part II - Executive Power.
Part III - Machinery of Government.
Part IV - The Constitutional Council.
Part V - Miscellaneous.
Chapter III - The Judicature.
Chapter IV - Finance and Trade.
Chapter V - The States.
Chapter VI - New States.
Chapter VII - Miscellaneous.
Chapter VIII - Alteration of the Constitution.
Chapter IX - Transitional and Temporary Provisions.
Schedule I.
Schedule II.

Table of Contents.


Chapter I - The Parliament

Part I - General

1. The legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Parliament, which shall consist of the President, a Senate, and a House of Representatives, and which is herein-after called "The Parliament," or "The Parliament of the Commonwealth."

Legislative power

2. [5 (1)] Subject to this Constitution, the President in Council may appoint such times for holding the sessions of the Parliament as he thinks fit, and may also from time to time, by Proclamation or otherwise, convene joint sittings of the members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, and may in like manner prorogue the Parliament, and may in like manner dissolve the House of Representatives.

But the President may, according to his discretion, from time to time, by Proclamation or otherwise, summon the Parliament, or convene a joint sitting of the members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives.

After any general election the President shall summon the Parliament to meet not later than thirty days after the day appointed for the return of the writs.

Sessions of Parliament.
Prorogation and dissolution.

3. [5 (2)] If there is no President or no person acting as President, or if the President unlawfully refuses to summon the Parliament, the Parliament shall be deemed to have been summoned at noon one week from the date on which the President had been advised, or otherwise required, to summon the Parliament.

Summoning Parliament.

4. [6] There shall be a session of the Parliament once at least in every year, so that twelve months shall not intervene between the last sitting of the Parliament in one session and its first sitting in the next session.

Yearly session of Parliament.


Part II - The Senate

1. [7] The Senate shall be composed of senators for each State directly chosen by the people of the State, voting as one electorate and according to the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.

Unless the Parliament otherwise provides there shall be ten senators for each Original State. The Parliament may make laws increasing or diminishing the number of senators for each State, but so that equal representation of the several Original States shall be maintained and that no Original State shall have less than ten senators and that no new State shall have more senators than an Original State, and that the total number of senators for all the Territories of the Commonwealth shall not be more than the number of senators for an Original State.

The senators shall be chosen for a term of six years.

The Senate.

2. [8] The qualification of electors of senators shall be that which is prescribed by this Constitution, or by the Parliament, as the qualification for electors of members of the House of Representatives; but in the choosing of senators each elector shall vote only once.

Qualification of electors.

3. [9] The Parliament may make laws prescribing the method of choosing senators, but so that the method shall be uniform for all parts of the Commonwealth.

Method of election of senators.

The Parliament may make laws for determining the times and places for elections of senators.

Times and places.

4. [10] The Parliament may make laws relating to elections of senators.

Laws relating to election of senators.

5. [12] The President in consultation with Council may cause writs to be issued for elections of senators. In case of the dissolution of the Senate the writs shall be issued within ten days from the proclamation of such dissolution.

Issue of writs.

6. [13] As soon as may be after each first meeting of the Senate following a dissolution thereof, the Senate shall divide the senators chosen for each State into two classes, as nearly equal in number as practicable; and the places of the senators of the first class shall become vacant at the expiration of three years, and the places of those of the second class at the expiration of six years, from the beginning of their term of service; and afterwards the places of senators shall become vacant at the expiration of six years from the beginning of their term of service.

The election to fill vacant places shall be made within one year before the places are to become vacant.

For the purposes of this section the term of service of a senator shall be taken to begin on the first day of July following the day of his election, except in the case of the election next after any dissolution of the Senate, when it shall be taken to begin on the first day of July preceding the day of his election.

Rotation of senators.

7. [14] Whenever the number of senators for a State is increased or diminished, the Parliament of the Commonwealth may make such provision for the vacating of the places of senators for the State as it deems necessary to maintain regularity in the rotation.

Further provision for rotation.

8. [15] If the place of a senator becomes vacant before the expiration of his term of service, the President shall, as soon as is practicable, but after consulting with the Constitutional Council, choose a person to hold the place until the expiration of the term.

Where a vacancy has at any time occurred in the place of a senator chosen by the people of a State and, at the time when he was so chosen, he was publicly recognised by a particular political party as being an endorsed candidate of that party and publicly represented himself to be such a candidate, a person chosen or appointed under this section in consequence of that vacancy, shall, unless there is no member of that party available to be chosen or appointed, be a member of that party.

Where:

    (a) in accordance with the last preceding paragraph, a member of particular political party is chosen or appointed to hold the place of a senator whose place has become vacant; and

    (b) before taking his seat he ceases to be a member of that party (otherwise than by reason of the party having ceased to exist),

he shall be deemed not to have been so chosen or appointed and the vacancy shall be again notified in accordance with section 1(2).14 of this Constitution.

Casual vacancies.

9. [16] The qualifications of a senator shall be the same as those of a member of the House of Representatives.

Qualifications of senator.

10. [17] The Senate shall, before proceeding to the despatch of any other business, choose a senator to be the President of the Senate; and as often as the President of the Senate becomes vacant the Senate shall again choose a senator to be the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall preside over the Senate and, whenever there is a joint sitting of the members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives he shall preside over the joint sitting.

The President of the Senate shall cease to hold his office if he ceases to be a senator. He may be removed from office by a vote of the Senate, or he may resign his office or his seat by writing to the President.

Election of President of the Senate.

11. [18] Before or during any absence of the President of the Senate, the Senate may choose a senator to perform his duties in his absence.

Absence of President of the Senate.

12. [19] A senator may, by writing addressed to the President of the Senate, or to the President if there is no President of the Senate or if the President of the Senate is absent from the Commonwealth, resign his place, which thereupon shall become vacant.

Resignation of senator.

13. [20] The place of a senator shall become vacant if for two consecutive months of any session of the Parliament he, without the permission of the Senate, fails to attend the Senate.

Vacancy by absence.

14. [21] Whenever a vacancy happens in the Senate, the President of the Senate, or if there is no President of the Senate or if the President of the Senate is absent from the Commonwealth the person acting as President of the Senate shall notify the same to the President.

Vacancy to be notified.

15. [22] Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the presence of at least one-third of the whole number of the senators shall be necessary to constitute a meeting of the Senate for the exercise of its powers.

Quorum.

16. [23] Questions arising in the Senate shall be determined by a majority of votes, and each senator shall have one vote. The President of the Senate shall in all cases be entitled to vote; and when the votes are equal the question shall pass in the negative.

Voting in the Senate.


Part III - The House of Representatives

1. [24] The House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the Commonwealth, and the number of such members shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of senators.

The number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective number of their people, and shall, until the Parliament otherwise provides, be determined, wherever necessary, in the following manner:

    (i) A quota shall be ascertained by dividing the number of the people of the Commonwealth, as shown by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth, by twice the number of senators;

    (ii) The number of members to be chosen in each State shall be determined by dividing the number of the people of the State, as shown by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth, by the quota; and if on such division there is a remainder greater than one-half of the quota, one more member shall be chosen in the State.

But notwithstanding anything in this section, five members at least shall be chosen in each Original State.

Composition of House of Representatives.

2. [27] Subject to this Constitution, the Parliament may make laws for increasing or diminishing the number of members of the House of Representatives.

Alteration of number of members.

3. [28] Every House of Representatives shall continue for three years from the first meeting of the House, and no longer, but may be sooner dissolved by the President in Council.

Duration of House of Representatives.

4. [29] The Parliament of the Commonwealth may make laws for determining the divisions in all parts of the Commonwealth for which members of the House of Representatives may be chosen, and the number of members to be chosen for each division. A division shall not be formed out of parts of different States.

In the absence of other provisions, each State shall be one electorate, and all Territories of the Commonwealth shall together be one electorate, and members shall be elected according to the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.

Electoral divisions.

5. [30] The Parliament of the Commonwealth may make laws for determining the qualification of electors of members of the House of Representatives but so that the qualification shall be uniform throughout the Commonwealth.

But in any case, all Australian citizens of the full age of eighteen years shall be qualified as electors of members of the House of Representatives, and in the choosing of members each elector shall vote only once.

Qualification of electors.

6. [31] The Parliament may make laws providing for the method of election of members of the House of Representatives, but so that the method shall be uniform throughout the Commonwealth.

Method of election of members of the House of Representatives.

7. [32] The President shall cause writs to be issued for general elections of members of the House of Representatives within ten days from the expiry of a House of Representatives or from the proclamation of a dissolution thereof.

Writs for general election.

8. [33] Whenever a vacancy happens in the House of Representatives, the Speaker shall issue his writ for the election of a new member, or if there is no Speaker or if he is absent from the Commonwealth the President shall issue the writ.

Writs for vacancies.

9. [34] The Parliament of the Commonwealth may make laws for determining the qualifications of a member of the House of Representatives.

But in any case, the minimum qualifications shall be that he must be an elector entitled to vote at the election of members of the House of Representatives, or a person qualified to become such elector, and must have been for three years at the least a resident within the limits of the Commonwealth as existing at the time when he is chosen.

Qualifications of members.

10. [35] The House of Representatives shall, before proceeding to the dispatch of any other business, choose a member to be the Speaker of the House, and as often as the office of Speaker becomes vacant the House shall again choose a member to be the Speaker. The Speaker shall preside over the House of Representatives.

The Speaker shall cease to hold his office if he ceases to be a member. He may be removed from office by a vote of the House, or he may resign his office or his seat by writing addressed to the President.

Election of Speaker.

11. [36] Before or during any absence of the Speaker, the House of Representatives may choose a member to perform his duties in his absence.

Absence of Speaker.

12. [37] A member may by writing addressed to the Speaker, or to the President if there is no Speaker or if the Speaker is absent from the Commonwealth, resign his place, which thereupon shall become vacant.

Resignation of member.

13. [38] The place of a member shall become vacant if for two consecutive months of any session of the Parliament he, without the permission of the House, fails to attend the House.

Vacancy by absence.

14. [39] Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the presence of at least one-third of the whole number of the members of the House of Representatives shall be necessary to constitute a meeting of the House for the exercise of its powers.

Quorum.

15. [40] Questions arising in the House of Representatives shall be determined by a majority of votes other than that of the Speaker. The Speaker shall not vote unless the numbers are equal, and then he shall have a casting vote.

Voting in the House of Representatives.


(The remainder of the Constitution would follow in similar fashion.)


Last updated 26 December 1997.


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