The Australia Acts, one enacted in Australia and the other in the United Kingdom, are fundamental constitutional documents for Australia: they terminated the remaining constitutional links between the two countries. Negotiated behind closed doors, little has been known of their background and purpose.
Using previously confidential documents, this book reveals what was intended, what was disputed and what was rejected. It analyses each provision, its background, objectives, drafting changes and its current operation. It also provides a close analysis of the power to enact the Australia Acts, the validity of the provisions and their impact on the Crown and Australia’s independence.
The book addresses fundamental historical, political and constitutional matters, such as:
- the current basis for Australian sovereignty and the binding nature of the Constitution
- the relationship between federalism and the Crown
- the status of the Queen of Australia and whether there is also a separate Queen of each State, and
- the source of the power to amend Australia’s constitutional documents and the limits on its exercise.
It is also essential for those who need to ascertain the extent of State legislative power, including:
- the reach of the extra-territorial power of the States and whether a nexus is needed
- whether the States can constitutionally entrench laws, such as a bill of rights
- why the States cannot abdicate or limit the scope of their legislative powers
- whether the States can apply the Australia Acts with retrospective effect to validate defective State laws.
If Associate Professor Anne Twomey’s The Australia Acts 1986 Australia’s Statutes of Independence had been available at the time of Marquet, their Honour’s might have gone directly to Chapter Three (The Negotiation of the Australia Acts 1986) of this scholarly work to have had regard to such a proper account. This proposition demonstrates the importance and utility of Dr Twomey’s book. ... Associate Professor Anne Twomey has made another important legal and historical contribution that further enhances her reputation as a leading constitutional law scholar. I highly recommended The Australia Acts 1986 Australia’s Statutes of Independence - Chris Tam, Hearsay, the electronic journal of Bar Association of Qld, Issue 51, August 2011
Herein lies a considerable virtue of this book. Too much of the teaching of ’constitutional law’ looks only to the decisions of the judicial branch and fails to give students an understanding of the operation of the federal system as a method of government. The attention given by the author to the source materials lying behind the enactment of the Australia Acts has yielded a book which will be a valuable teaching resource and the author is to be congratulated on her work. - William M C Gummow AC, Sydney Law Review, 2011, Vol 33: 319-323
Table of Contents
The Australia Acts 1986 and Australia’s Independence
Colonial limits and the Statute of Westminster
The Negotiation of the Australia Acts 1986
Commentary on the Provisions of the Australia Acts
The Validity of the Australia Acts 1986
The Monarch and The Australia Acts
Appendix: The Australia Act 1986 (Cth)