The De-Colonisation of the Australian States

Anne Twomey, “The De-Colonisation of the Australian States

“This thesis examines the status of the Queen in Australia in relation to the Australian States and the effect upon it of the enactment of the Australia Acts 1986. It uses hitherto confidential government documents to expose the true relationship between the United Kingdom, the Crown and the States and challenge prevailing assumptions.

The thesis establishes that before 1986 the United Kingdom played a substantive, rather than a merely formal, role in the constitutional relationship between the States and the Crown. The ‘Queen of Australia’ was confined in her role to Commonwealth, not State, matters. The ‘Queen of the United Kingdom’ continued to perform constitutional functions with respect to the States, which were regarded as dependencies of the British Crown. This position changed with the enactment of the Australia Acts 1986 (Cth) and (UK). This thesis analyses the Australia Acts, assesses the validity of their provisions and contends that the Australia Act 1986 (UK) was necessary for legal and political reasons.

The thesis concludes that the Australia Acts, in terminating the residual sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament with respect to Australia, transferred sovereignty collectively to the components of the federal parliamentary democratic system. Consistent with this view, it is contended that the effect of the Australia Acts was to establish a hybrid federal Crown of Australia under which the Queen’s Ministers for each constituent polity within the federation can advise her upon her constitutional functions with respect to that polity.”