Three Changes to the Australian Constitution


To begin with, there is strong necessity to mention that Australian constitution was based on the principles of British constitution and country government. The fact is that, it was initially formed with the intention of British control over the Australian territory; nevertheless, it was further amended in order to undermine such possibility and improve the structure of the basic legislative initiative.


First of all, it should be stated that all the necessary issues for country regulation were issued on the basis of the world practice, and with taking into consideration majority of the national particularities. Nevertheless, some issues stayed improperly regulated, and require essential amendments, or even thorough changes. Thus, a race issue, and the matters, associated with Australian aborigines, are not properly regulated in the constitution. It is often emphasized in various researches (Mosler, 2002) that Australian constitution entails a potential conflict on the issue of race, as these issues are not properly allocated between Governor-general and Prime Minister.

O’Brien (2007, 87) in his turn emphasizes the following notion: “In practice the Queen’s only constitutional role is to appoint the Governor-General and State Governors on the advice of the Prime Minister and Premier respectively. The governors are commissioned to perform a function by the Queen and hence are not in a position to become dictators. If a series of events led to a race condition, as described in the article, then the Queen can terminate the commission and appoint another governor to return the country to constitutional normality”.

Taking this fact into consideration, it should be stated that the Australian Constitution grants the protection of religious freedoms, however, it restricts essentially the rights of the Australian aborigines, protection of their culture, authenticity and religious values. In the light of this fact, it should be emphasized that the Australian judges have stated the importance of religious freedom in Australia as the democratic State, however a narrow approach have been taken as for the matters of scope of religious liberties and to the meaning of establishment.

From this point of view, it should be stated that the constitution needs essential improvement in the terms of clear definition of the concepts and notions, which are discussed in the articles.

Cavendish (2004, 293) stated the following notion in his research: “The end result is that the courts have played very little role in determining the boundaries of acceptable government or legislative behaviour in the regulation of religion. Instead, the key decisions have been left to the political branches of government, which have been given a broad scope of power to engage in all but the most direct and egregious breaches of religious freedom.

Another point, which requires changes is the section 109 of the constitution. Originally, the legislative power in Australia, which is stated in the Constitution is contradicting with the global legislative practices. In the case, when the law of the Commonwealth contradicts with the national Australian law, the law of Commonwealth prevails over national legislative norm. Nevertheless, if this law stops its existence, national law comes to force again. On the one hand, there were no instances for this mechanism, nevertheless, the world practice reveals the fact, that in the case when the international law stops its existence, the national law, over which it prevailed, is no longer actual, and needs essential improvements. Consequenlty, there is strong necessity to provide the mechanism of legislative update in similar cases. Section 109, which is responsible for the mechanism of legislative prevailing, is not presupposed to regulate the update process. (Gelber, 2008)

As a democratic state, Australia allows enough freedoms to its citizens. One of such freedoms is the ability to arrange and participate in referendums. Nevertheless, it should be stated that the mechanism needs to be improved. Kane and Patapan (2005) states that the constitution of Australia may be improved only by the means of referendum, while in other democratic states it may be changed, amended or improved by parliament (or congress as in the USA). Parliamentary process takes lesser time for the changes entered into force, and financial factor of this issue is much more attractive. On the other hand, it does not distract people from their everyday life, and will force them support some political force after thorough thinking over of the political consequences, and the interests, which any force represents.


Finally, it should be emphasized that the possible changes for the Australian constitution should first be coordinated with the worldwide legislative practice, for arranging effective and legal process of constitutional reforms. Anyway, all the issues that define the image of the country on the world political arena incorporate all the necessary points, consequently, the offered ideas will not change the situation essentially. In the light of this fact, it should be stated that all the changes should be focused on the internal factors of constitutional system.


Cavendish, Richard. “Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act.” History Today 2004: 54.

Gelber, Katharine. “Treaties and Intergovernmental Relations in Australia: Political Implications of the Toonen Case.” The Australian Journal of Politics and History 45.3 (2008): 330.

Kane, John, and Haig Patapan. “Federation and National Identity in Australia.” Melbourne Journal of Politics (2005): 27.

Mosler, David. Australia, the Recreational Society. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002.

O’Brien, Ilma Martinuzzi. “Citizenship, Rights and Emergency Powers in Second World War Australia.” The Australian Journal of Politics and History 53.2 (2007): 207.

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