Commonwealth of Australia?  Nah, it’s now called STRAYA!

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A popular OPCA concept in Australia is the theory that because the government publications often have the title “The Australian Government” this verifies the original “Commonwealth of Australia” has been usurped, and is now under foreign administration.

The “two governments” theory is atypical of the Sovereign Citizen theories of their U.S. counterparts, but this Australian version was largely concocted by Scott Bartle in his documentary “What the FUQ” or  “Frequently Unanswered Questions” of the Australian Government”. In the film he asks various authorities  from “The Australian Government” to prove they are in fact the legitimate “Commonwealth of Australia“, but unfortunately he received no response.

To the paranoid mind, their non-response of course, confirms the fact they aren’t.

So why did they change from “Commonwealth of Australia” to “The Australian Government” anyway? The answer is amazingly simple. They didn’t. If you look at a copy of our Constitution you’ll notice that our official country name is the “Commonwealth of Australia“.

Put simply, “Commonwealth refers to the type of nation created by federation.

Our Constitution was written over a period of about a decade before we federated in 1901. It is said that Henry Parkes, affectionately known as the father of federation, suggested the term “Commonwealth” when the drafting process of the Constitution was beginning. A vote was taken and a substantial majority of the delegates at the 1891 Constitutional Convention in Sydney accepted the name “Commonwealth of Australia“.

At the later Constitutional Conventions there were other potential names suggested. In the 1901 Commentaries on the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, Quick and Garran wrote (in ss 17): 1

“Other names were submitted for consideration before federation, such as “United Australia,” “Federated Australia,” “The Australian Dominion,” “The Federated States of Australia” etc, but the name “Commonwealth” was generally accepted as the description of the federal unit.”

They wrote that Webster Dictionary in 1901 defined “Commonwealth”:

“A Commonwealth is a State consisting of a certain number of men united by compact, or tacit agreement under one form of government and one system of laws. It is applied more appropriately to governments which are considered free or popular, but rarely or improperly to absolute governments. Strictly, it means a government in which the general welfare is regarded rather than the welfare of any particular class.”

Webster’s (now known as Merriam Webster) mentioned the phrase 2 the common good” when defining a “Commonwealth”:

“A commonwealth is a nation, state, or other political unit: such as:

a)one founded on law and united by compact or tacit agreement of the people for the common good
b)one in which supreme authority is vested in the people

But back at federation, mentioning republicanism was a sure-fire way to get yourself removed from public life. Hence a few delegates dissented on the vote to call our country the “Commonwealth of Australia”:

“The only objections raised to it being that it was suggestive of republicanism, owing to its association with the Commonwealth of England, under Oliver Cromwell’s Protectorate.”

But Maitland rejoiced in the return of the term “Commonwealth”. As mentioned in Sue v Hill [1999] HCA 30, (at 84) he wrote in 1901:

“There is no cause for despair when ‘the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland’. We may miss the old words that were used of Connecticut and Rhode Island: ‘one body corporate and politic in fact and name’; but ‘united in a Federal Commonwealth under the name of the Commonwealth of Australia’ seems amply to fill their place. And a body politic may be a member of another body politic.”

So ultimately, “Commonwealth” describes the type of nation. 

It is called “Australia, no matter what one wants to call the federation of colonies it was composed of. And so logically, it follows that the government of this “Australia” is called… “The Australian Government”…

The Acts Interpretation Acts 1901 in Part 2B, provides that: 4

Australia means the Commonwealth of Australia and, when used in a geographical sense, includes Norfolk Island, the Territory of Christmas Island and the Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, but does not include any other external Territory.”

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