Although Australia Day was some weeks ago, the controversy persists and ongoing discussion on the date and what for, continues to be of major importance for Australia.
Contributed by Glen Davis
Another Australia Day on January 26 has come and gone. A day in which English troops landed on the land of the Eora people in what is now called Sydney Cove, that is somehow meant to symbolise the founding of a nation.
As it was, the nation called Australia only goes back to Federation on January 1, 1901
Early pro-federation rally at Martin Place in Sydney
On March 3, 1986, the Federal Governments Australia Act came into force. There were two separate Acts, one passed by the Federal Parliament of Australia, the other by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. (These were signed simultaneously on March 2 by Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, and Queen Elizabeth II).
Both worked to provide a formal Australian independence almost entirely separate from England’s United Kingdom or reduce overt English involvement in Australian Judicial and Political matters to a minimum.
The Act aimed to bring constitutional arrangements affecting the Commonwealth and the
Australian States into conformity having the status of the Commonwealth of Australia being a sovereign, independent, and federated nation. The Australian Commonwealth and its states had broken any constitutional ties to the United Kingdom to obtain a level of independence.
Thus, as it ended any further possibility the United Kingdom had to legislate for Australia.
It also removed the prospect for an Australian court of launching an appeal to a British court. How many of us are aware that in 1979 the elected NSW Government were instructed by Buckingham Palace not to submit bills to their State Parliament and alter the Queens powers to appoint State Governors and the role of England’s Privy Council to act on appeals from the State courts?
In many ways this was the final straw leading to the Australia Act of 1986
Despite all this, the Australian Head of State is still Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of England. The current Australian Constitution delegates her powers to her Australian Representative, the Governor General.
Photo by Toby Melville/AFP: Queen of England remains head of state of Australia
In 2021 you seriously wonder about Australia’s political maturity when this structure remains in place.
As a young political activist back in 1986. The proclamation of the Australia Act didn’t have much resonance with me. I would much rather seen the English Royal family abdicate, or anything else that would remove them from our lives.
Now many moons later, I am thinking, is there something about this Act that can be a basis of a national day? If the Act is a legislative, political declaration of Australia becoming an independent nation, is it worth celebrating?
The current question/debate is around what day we should call Australia Day, but maybe the question should be is do we really need an Australia Day?