Joosse v Australian Securities and Investment Commission [1998] HCA 77

In Joosse v Australian Securities and Investment Commission [1998] HCA 77 the applicants contended that there had been “…an unremedied, perhaps even irremediable, “break in sovereignty” in Australia” by the Treaty of Versailles so that subsequent legislation is invalid, and further contended that since the references in the Constitution to the Queen were intended as references to the Queen “in the sovereignty of the United Kingdom” since the Royal Style and Titles Act 1973 (Cth), the Royal Assent has not been validly given, and that as a sovereign nation certain international treaties have direct operation in Australian domestic law.

“It is, then, to the Constitution and to laws made by the Parliament of the Commonwealth under the Constitution that the courts must look. And necessarily, of course, that will include laws made by the States whose Constitutions are continued, the powers of whose parliaments are continued, and the existing laws of which were continued (subject, in each case, of course, to the Constitution) by ss 106, 107 and 108 of the Constitution. It is not relevant to the inquiry required by covering cl 5 to inquire how Australia has been treated by other nations in its dealings with them or to inquire whether the Westminster Parliament could or could not pass legislation that has effect in Australia. Covering cl 5 provides that the Constitution and the laws made by the Parliament of the Commonwealth under the Constitution are binding on the courts, judges, and people of every State and of every part of the Commonwealth. None of the points that the applicants seek to make touches the validity of any of the laws that are in question or would make those laws any the less binding on the courts, judges, and people.

As I have noted earlier, the second of the three themes identified by the applicants relies on the Royal Style and Titles Act. As I understand it, the principal burden of the argument is that an Act of Parliament, changing the style or title by which the Queen is to be known in Australia, worked a fundamental constitutional change. The fact is, it did not. So far as Commonwealth legislation is concerned, it is ss 58, 59 and 60 of the Constitution that deal with the ways in which the Royal Assent may be given to bills passed by the other elements of the Federal Parliament. So far as now relevant, s 58 governs. It provides that the Governor‑General “shall declare, according to his discretion, but subject to this Constitution, that he assents in the Queen’s name”. And there is no material that would suggest that has not been done in the case of each Commonwealth Act that now is challenged.”

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