The Crown was our first institution, and it is our oldest.

As with common law and the language, so with the Crown: it was to be adapted and made Australian, a point specifically recognised by out High Court in 1999 when it ruled, unanimously, that our Crown is in fact a separate, Australian, institution. The soverign is the same person who is Sovereign of Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and her other realms, but each crown is separate.

In the British Empire at its heyday there was but one Crown. Labour Leader and High Court Judge Dr Herbert Vere Evatt 1936 (The King and His Dominion Governors, reprinted in Evatt and Forsey on The Reserve Powers, Legal Books, Sydney 1990) concluded that the imperial crown was one and indivisible. But this has changed with the independance of the former dominions, now the realms.

The Australian Crown is the vast institutional, non-political heart of our constitutional government. It draws the line beyond which the politicians, and the political parties can't go. Without the sovereign there could of course be no such vast institution.

The Crown has many aspects. Above all it is part and parcel of the defence that the Westminster system provides against the fulfilment of the Lord Actons's famous warning, which is fundemental to an understanding of how freedom can best be preserved. This is that power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

 

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