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Australia Is Independent

In 1931 the British Parliament passed the Statute of Westminster, which allowed the self-governing Dominions to make their own decisions about defence and foreign policy, the only areas of policy which had remained under British control. The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia passed a law to ratify the Statute of Westminster in 1942. Remaining links with Britain (as distinct from links with the Crown) were broken by Acts of the Commonwealth Parliament in 1968 and 1975, which first restricted, then abolished, appeals from the High Court to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Finally with the passage of Australia Acts 1986 through both the British Parliament (at the specific request of the Commonwealth and all State Governments) and the Australian Parliament, all remaining legal links (mainly involving the States) between Australia and Britain were severed.

REPUBLICANS ASSERT

Australia should have a Head of State who is an Australian citizen, who is appointed by Australians and who represents the independent and sovereign nation of Australia, called the 'President of Australia'. The Queen of England is seen by others as representing the UK, not Australia, and this creates confusion. The British Queen does not represent the people who now make up Australia. Australia must be seen to be an independent nation, no longer tied to the apron strings of Britain.

ACM'S RESPONSE

Australia is completely independent. We no longer have any legal or constitutional ties with Britain. Nothing in the changes that are proposed could make us any more independent. Australia is already a form of republic under the Crown of Australia; a crowned republic. The 1926 Imperial Conference of the British and Dominion Prime Ministers declared that the Governor-General of a Dominion was no longer to be the representative of His Majesty's Government in Britain, and that it was no longer in accordance with the Governor-General's constitutional position for him to remain as the formal channel of communication between the two Governments. The Conference resolved that, henceforth, a Governor-General would stand in the same constitutional relationship with his Dominion Government, and hold the same position in relation to the administration of the public affairs in the dominion, as did the King with the British Government and in relation to public affairs in Great Britain. It was also decided that a Governor-General should be provided by his Dominion Government with copies of all important documents and should be kept as fully informed of Cabinet business and public affairs in the Dominion as was the King in Great Britain.

At that same conference the Prime Ministers recognised that the Sovereign would be unable to pay State visits on behalf of any Commonwealth country other than the United Kingdom, and it was agreed that Governors-General of the various realms would pay and receive State visits in respect of their own countries. 'Buckingham Palace made it clear that it expected that Governors-General would be treated as the Heads of their respective countries and would be received by host countries with all the marks of respect due to visiting Heads of State. Canada exercised this right almost immediately and its Governors-General began visiting other countries the following year, 1927, but Australian Governments waited until 1971, forty four years after Canada, to follow suit. Since then our Governors-General have made 49 State and official visits to 32 foreign countries.

QUOTES FOR THE DAY!

'So we have evolved to the point, in our time, at which the Governor-General, an Australian citizen and resident, performs Head of State functions in and for Australia even though lie is not formally Head of State. It is this development, this evolution, which explains why Geoffrey Wainey says that Australia is in practice a republic'.
Rt. Hon Sir Zelman Cowen (former Governor-General) "The Australian Constitutional Monarchy" Grainger & Jones p 46

'Those who seek to argue that Australia or its States or Territories are not independent must ignore political reality and law, both international and domestic. In every sense of the word, Australia is an independent and self determining nation, and changes to our constitution must be justified by other arguments, not those which assert or infer that we are in sonic way tied to the apron strings of Britain or that we are in some way still of colonial status. ... ... Australia as a nation was never a colony, although each of the States of Australia have colonial origins. Our constitution is the product of the finest Australian legal and political minds, exercised over the last part of the 19th century, hammered out in the founder of the constitutional conventions and presented for adoption as our constitution. It is an Australian Constitution, formulated by Australians, for Australians. ... ... It is a good document, a sound document, one which has, and still does, serve us well. ... ... Changing the Commonwealth constitution will not enhance our independence, our sovereignty, or our capacity for self determination. They are full and plenary'.
The Hon. Barry O'Keefe (ACM Charter Signatory) Speech: "Australia 1995: An Independent and Self Determining Nation" 2 November 1995.

'Our Head of State should be one of us'
The Hon P.J. Keating (former Prime Minister) Parliamentary speech: "An Australian republic; the way forward" 7 June 1995

'The Governor-General's statutory powers, that is, those powers conferred on him by legislation passed by the Commonwealth Parliament, were similarly conferred on the Governor-General in his own right and could be exercised by no one else — not even the Sovereign. So Parliament was asked to pass the Royal Powers Act 1953. This Act allows the Queen, whenever she is personally present in Australia, and is so advised by her Australian Ministers, to exercise any statutory power ender an Act of Parliament that is exercisable by the Governor-General. The Act further provides that the Governor-General may continue to exercise any of his statutory powers even while the Queen is in Australia, and in practice Governors-General have continued to do so.'
Sir David Smith (Official Secretary to Governors-General 1973-1990) From background notes explaining the Australian Parliament's Royal Powers Act 953.

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