George Williams On Dual Citizenship And Same Sex Marriage Survey

Professor George Williams, Dean of Law at the University of New South Wales, has addressed the National Press Club on the dual citizenship issue and the same sex marriage postal survey.

Williams suggested that the Turnbull government is “running against the grain of existing High Court authority” in relation to the marriage survey and the seven dual citizenship cases currently before the court.

In his address, Williams called for a range of constitutional reforms.

Williams, 48, has been Dean of Law since 2016. He was admitted to practice in 1993 and served as an associate to Justice Michael McHugh in the High Court. He has worked as a solicitor and barrister and has extensive academic experience at a number of universities.

A member of the ALP, Williams has unsuccessfully contested preselection on two occasions.

  • Watch Williams’ Address in full (59m)
  • Listen to Williams’ speech (33m)
  • Listen to the Question and Answer session (25m)

Transcript of Address to the National Press Club by Professor George Williams.

The Constitution is not normally front-page news in Australia. Despite the profound impact it has on our politics and society, it is easy to see why.

The United States Constitution reflects its revolutionary origins in beginning with the famous call “We the people.” By contrast, our Constitution is contained in a British Act of Parliament that opens with:

Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania…

“Whereas” is hardly the sort of beginning that gets the heart racing. In addition, these words are not even complete. They fail to mention Western Australia, which joined the Federation just before the commencement of the Constitution in 1901. [Read more…]


Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s New Year Message

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has released a 2014 New Year Message in which he says he will “start the conversation” about recognising the first Australians in the Constitution.

In relation to indigenous recognition, Abbott said: “I will also start the conversation about a constitutional referendum to recognise the first Australians. This would complete our Constitution rather than change it.”

  • Listen to Abbott’s message (2m)
  • Watch Abbott (2m)

Text of media release from Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

If ever we should enter a New Year full of optimism, it is 2014. [Read more…]


The State Of The Federation: Ted Mack

This is the text of Ted Mack’s Henry Parkes Oration, delivered in Tenterfield tonight.

MackTed Mack was an independent councillor and Mayor of the North Sydney Council in the 1970s and 1980s.

He was elected as the independent member for North Shore in the NSW Legislative Assembly in 1981 and was re-elected in 1984 and 1988, retiring two days before he became eligible for a parliamentary pension.

In 1990, he was elected as the independent member for the federal seat of North Sydney, defeating the incumbent Liberal, John Spender. He was re-elected in 1993 and retired in 1996.

In this speech, Mack argues that “no serious observer of politics in Australia, except those with specific interests, can pretend that we do not have major problems with our system of government or that we are incapable of achieving any improvement after a century of experience”. [Read more…]


Abbott: Indigenous Issues Will Be At The Heart Of A Coalition Government In Word And Deed

Tony Abbott says engagement with Aboriginal people will be one of the hallmarks of an incoming Coalition government.

Speaking to The Sydney Institute tonight, Abbott said a non-Labor government would be “complacent, even neglectful” if it failed to address “the most intractable difficulty our country has ever faced”. [Read more…]


Scullion: A Genuine Sense Of Bipartisanship

This is the text of Senator Nigel Scullion’s speech on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Peoples Recognition Bill.

Scullion is a Northern Territory senator and Deputy Leader of The Nationals.

His speech is an interesting example of bipartisanship on the recognition of Indigenous Australians in the Constitution.

Transcript of Senator Nigel Scullion’s speech on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill.

ScullionSenator SCULLION (Northern Territory—Deputy Leader of The Nationals) (13:19): I too support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill 2012. I thank the previous speakers and I have to say that this is, without doubt, the first time in my 12-odd years in this place that I have had a genuine sense of bipartisanship. We are excited by the prospects, we are nervous about how we proceed and we are talking genuinely with each other to ensure that our views are not polarised. It gives me a great deal of confidence that we, as representatives of the wider Australian community, can behave in that way. Hopefully that will help engender an appropriate environment for the community discussions to follow on the content of the changes. [Read more…]


Act Of Recognition Passes In House Of Representatives

A Bill recognising the “unique and special place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples” has been passed by the House of Representatives.

The Bill is a step on the path to constitutional recognition. Its passage came on the fifth anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations. [Read more…]


Parliamentary Committee Recommends Referendum On Local Government

The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government has recommended that a referendum on financial recognition of local government be held in conjunction with this year’s federal election.

The Committee recommends that Section 96 of the Constitution be amended to read:

…the Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State or to any local government body formed by State or Territory legislation on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.

The report argues that uncertainty arising from the High Court’s Pape v Commissioner of Taxation (2009) and Williams v Commonwealth of Australia (2012) cases creates a “moment for action” that should result in a referendum this year. [Read more…]