Article Index

A Working Constitution

Our Australian Constitution is nearly 100 years old. It is now the sixth oldest in the world. We hope to celebrate its 100th birthday in 2001 united as Australians. Since Federation in 1901 the Australian Constitution has sustained our legal and governmental systems, providing us with a stability and unity which has made us the envy of the world. Thousands of Australians have chosen to migrate here after fleeing from disastrous experiences in republics.

The Australian Constitution unifies our nation's system of government and ensures the people of Australia are sovereign in our democracy. Through parliamentary legislation and the legal system, our nation evolves and adapts to the complexities of the modern world. Thanks to the vision of the Australian voters in 1900, Section 128 of our constitution ensures Australia is one of the very few countries in the world where constitutional change can only be achieved through a referendum of the people. Otherwise it is our elected members of parliament who make the day to day decisions of government although all legislation must receive the assent of the Governor-General before becoming law.


The constitution is old and out of date.


Our Constitution is as modern as we the people want it to be. In the exercise of the sovereignty of the people, voters have approved only eight of the 48 suggested amendments put to them at referendums.

Republicans are not able to demonstrate any way in which Australia would be better off as a republic. We could end up with replacing one of the best systems of government in the world with constitutional and political uncertainties.

If the republicans are right and nothing will really change, why bother! If, on the other hand, they are playing down the extent of the flow-on changes, why take the risk? A republic diverts attention from more pressing questions.


'A republic says that this is Australia: a nation not defined by race or religion or cultural background, but a nation defined by its commitment to this land above all others. It is a commitment to our own unique democracy and democratic institutions.'
Australian Republican Movement. Platform document p4

'The present system works well. It allows us to have stable Government in this country. The Head of State is aware of the restraints under which he must function. They are acknowledged all round and have worked since Federation quite effectively. If we move away from that and there is no restraint, then my apprehension would be that we could go through extensive periods of quite unstable Government.'
The Hon W.G. Hayden (former Governor-General) ABC "Four Corners" 1993.

'Republicanism can mean and has meant many things beyond the mere removal of the monarch. A republic denotes sovereignty of the people or a mixed and balanced Constitution, both of which are compatible with monarchy so long as the monarch is a constitutional monarch. From the mid-19th century, the British system of parliamentary government was commonly seen as a disguised republic.'
Dr John Hirst (ARM Victorian convenor) Review of "The Captive Republic.
A History of republicanism in Australia" by Mark McKenna
"The Australian" 13 November 1996

'The constitution is like a marriage licence. It tells us two people are bound together in marriage but not much about what goes on inside the marriage.'
Lloyd Waddy (ACM National convenor) Various speeches. 

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