Article Index

But at the request of Australia, the Statute of Westminster was not to apply to the Australian States.

This was because State politicians of all parties had less confidence in Federal governments  than  British ministers, to convey their advice to the Crown on such matters as the appointment of Governors, and the reservation of proposed legislation for Royal Assent.

Accordingly, on State matters, the Sovereign was advised by Her British Ministers. Technically then, the British Crown retained a vestigial role in Australian affairs until 1986.

It is important to understand that this was only because State governments trusted the British more than the Federal government.  The States were not prepared to have the Prime Minister advise The Queen on State matters, for example on the appointment of Governors, or on disallowing State legislation.

This was terminated under legislation passed by the all Australian Parliaments and by the British Parliament: the Australia Acts, 1986.

The Queen played a crucial role in agreeing to a solution which is unique in the Commonwealth. This is that on State matters The Queen would be advised by the Premier, a practice which does not apply in Canada.

That the British Crown was to play a residual role in Australia until as late 1986 is not so surprising given the peaceful way in which Britain transferred power to her former colonies.

Until 1982, the Canadian constitution could only be changed by the British Parliament, but not because of any British wish to retain control. The Canadian governments could not agree on how to amend their constitution.

This development demonstrates once again the genius of our evolving and enormously successful constiutional systems.

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