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A New Preamble for the Australian Constitution

By Peter Crayson

A Preamble Based on the Main ConCon Recommendations

The current original Preamble, which is actually the Preamble to the Constitution Act as passed by the UK Parliament, is as follows:

Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing 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, as follows:

The Constitutional Convention (ConCon) recommended that this be retained, but that a new Preamble be added to the Constitution proper. Here is my version thereof (with my comments in red italics):

Whereas the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia have continuously occupied the land and exercised custodianship thereof over many tens of thousands of years, over which time they established a rich cultural heritage:
The mention of "many tens of thousands of years" puts this acknowledgement into a clearer historical perspective. Reference to the "rich cultural heritage" lends more dignity to this acknowledgement.

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, named the Commonwealth of Australia, under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution thereby established:
this retains much of the original extract from which it is derived, except that it recognises the ultimate inclusion of Western Australia, and the language is expressed as though from the perspective of an observer in the present referring to a past event: thus, "have agreed" is changed to "agreed", "hereby" to "thereby". Also, the full name of the Commononwealth - "the Commonwealth of Australia" - as established at that time, is expressed here.

And whereas the Commonwealth of Australia evolved into a sovereign, independent and democratic nation under the Crown:
This acknowledges the evolution of the nation between 1 January, 1901 and 1 January, 2001 (assuming this is the date the republican Constitution will come into effect).

And whereas sovereignty ultimately resides in the People of the Commonwealth of Australia, from whom the legal and moral authority of this Constitution is drawn:
Before using the words "We the People", it is prudent to establish the status of the "People" with respect to the Constitution.

We the People of Australia,

finding unity in diversity,
this recognises Australia's cultural diversity.

acknowledging the equality of all before the law, including equality irrespective of gender,
this affirms the equality of all people before the law.

believing in liberty, equity and fairness,
this articulates our fundamental beliefs.

respecting the land and the environment which we share,
this affirms our respect for our unique land and the environment.

and declaring ourselves to be a sovereign, independent and representative democracy based on the principles of responsible and accountable government, the rule of law and the separation of powers,
this articulates the fundamental characteristics of our system of government.

have decided to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia on the first day of January, 2001 as a federal republic, and hereby commit ourselves to this Constitution.
The inclusion of the date here provides a symmetry of form of the Preamble, as the way in which it is expressed here is similar to the way it is expressed in the second paragraph, above.

Comments on ConCon Recommendations

Let me comment on some of the recommendations of the Con Con. Principal recommendations:

Other matters that Con Con also said should be considered for inclusion in the Preamble:

Last updated 10 February 1999.

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