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Constitutional Reform in Australia
The Australian Constitution came into force on 1 January, 1901. The document
has barely changed since then, and remains in many respects a relic of a
colonial era. The question of whether Australia should dispense with the
British monarch as our Head of State and replace the monarch and her
representative, the Governor-General, with a democratically elected President
has prompted debate on constitutional reform.
In order to contribute constructively to this debate, I am producing a number
of versions of an amended republican Constitution. The
minimalist ("Stage 1") models propose various methods for nominating and
appointing the President, with Model 1 being my preferred option.
Stage 1 amendments implement a republican form of government and
include some other reforms which it would be expedient and desirable to
implement concurrently. Changes are in accordance with the "minimalist"
paradigm, aimed at achieving a republic with a minimum of change.
- Summarised comments on the minimalist models
- Minimalist Model 1 - Nomination of the
President by a "Constitutional Council" with the Parliament able to
decide whether to appoint the President by a Parliamentary super-majority or to
provide for a popular election. This combines the best aspects of Models 2,
3 and 4 and is the most flexible model. This is presented as part of an entire
amended constitution, and is my favoured model.
- Minimalist Model 2 - Nomination of the
President by the Prime Minister with appointment by a Parliamentary
super-majority. This is the scenario favoured by the Australian
Republican Movement, but according to opinion polls, comes a distant second
to support for popular election of the President. It is included here mainly
for purposes of comparison with the ARM models and with my other models. Only
those sections which differ from my Model 1 are presented here.
- Minimalist Model 3 - Nomination of the
President by a "Constitutional Council" with appointment by a
Parliamentary super-majority. This is similar to Model 2, but is one step
further from the politicians and one step closer to non- or bi-partisan
nomination. The advantage of this model over Model 1 is in its simplicity, but
the disadvantage is in its inflexibility. Only those sections which differ from
my Model 1 are presented here.
- Minimalist Model 4 - Nomination of the
President by a "Constitutional Council" with popular election.
Popular election seems to be the preferred model of the general public. This
takes the non-/bi-partisan nomination of Model 3 and combines it with popular
election rather than Parliamentary appointment. Like Model 3, the advantage of
this model over Model 1 is in its simplicity, but the disadvantage is in its
inflexibility. Only those sections which differ from my Model 1 are presented
- Comparison chart for comparisons with the current
Constitution. See also Stephen
Souter's comparison chart for comparisons with other republican
- Minimalist Model 1A - Same as Minimalist Model 1,
but with references to amendments edited out and renumbering and
contemporisation of punctuation for ease of reading.
Stage 2 amendments implement more substantial
changes which are not necessarily part of the republican agenda.
- Suggestions for Stage 2 models - Expressed as
amendments to Minimalist Model 1.
- Stage 2 Model 1 - To be considered for
implementation after the establishment of a republic. Retains the States. (Not
- Stage 2 Model 2 - Same as Stage 2 Model 1,
but dispenses with the States and provides for the establishment of smaller
Provinces. Only those sections which differ from my Model 1 are presented here.
(Not completed yet !)
- The Australian Constitution currently
in force, from the Senate.
- Another copy of the
Australian Constitution currently in force, from the Prime Minister's
- The Australian Republican Movement home page, and Minimalist Republican
Constitutions proposed by the Australian Republican Movement.
- The Constitutional Centenary
Foundation home page. This organisation promotes understanding of, and
discussion about, the Constitution.
- Constitutions of
other countries from International Constitutional Law.
- Constitutions of
other countries from Washburn University School of Law.
- National Library of
Australia - The Republic Debate and the Constitutional
- The Proportional
Representation Society of Australia.
- The Queen's web site. See her page on "Commonwealth
Realms" for the Queen's clear statement that she is the current Head of
State of Australia. Note that although the term "Head of State" is not actually
mentioned in the text of the Constitution, the term "sovereign", meaning the
same thing (but specifically in a monarchical context), is used. In any case,
the Head of State is the official who is at the apex of the constitutional
pyramid, and according to s.2 of the Constitution, this is, unambiguously, the
Queen, with the Governor-General as her representative.
- Australians For Constitutional
Monarchy, the main opponents of the Australian Republican Movement.
- The Australian Monarchist League,
possibly more vehemently opposed to change than the Australians For
- The Prime Minister's site
on the Constitutional Convention.
- Australian Electoral
Commission information on the Constitutional Convention.
- (Want any others added here? Please let me know!)
This site has been registered with the Constitutional Convention Secretariat
as submission number 349.
If you'd like to contact me, please email me at email@example.com. I'd love to hear
your comments and criticisms!
Alternatively, you can leave comments on my
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