All About Australia's Constitution


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The six Australian colonies drafted the Constitution in two constitutional conventions, in 1891 and in 1897-8. Representatives from the colonies approved a draft Constitution in 1898, but because Australia was still a collection of six colonies under the British Crown, the Constitution did not become law upon approval at the convention. The colonies sent their draft constitution to the British government for approval. In 1900, the British Parliament passed the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, of which the Constitution is section nine. The Constitution came into force on January 1, 1901.

The Constitution created the Commonwealth of Australia, a federation of the six original colonies. To create the Commonwealth, the Constitution created the federal government and enumerated the powers of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The Constitution also fixed the legal relationship between the federal government and the state governments. The Australian Constitution expressly states four individual rights: trial by jury, freedom of religion, freedom from discrimination based on State of residence, and compensation for property acquired under Commonwealth law.

About the Constitution

The creation of the Constitution began before the convention of 1891 and continues today in referenda and constitutional conventions.

  • The History and Features of the Constitution: A resource for students. Includes the history of the Constitution and the contents and key features of the Constitution. Also includes a Frequently Asked Questions link for more information.

  • Federation and the Constitution: Information on the National Australasian Convention of 1891 and the Australasian Federal Convention of 1897-98. Includes full texts of documents from each convention and a link to a timeline of Constitutional events.

  • Federation: Resources on Australia’s federation, federal conventions, and constitution. Includes a national timeline.

  • Constitutional Overview: A brief overview of the history of the Constitution and the structure of the federal government.

  • About Australian Government: A brief overview of Australian government and the Australian Constitution.

Texts of the Constitution

The Constitution comprises eight chapters and 128 total sections, the text of which can be found through the links below.

Discussion of the Constitution

The Constitution continues to be debated and amended; find information on current constitutional issues and debates below.

 

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