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Propose change to Establishment of Full Sovereignty[edit]

A similar process is taking place on Canada wiki page - I propose the same here? Shire Lord (talk) 20:58, 10 February 2017 (UTC)

Yes, we have modified the heading in the Canada infobox to Establishment of Full Sovereignty (from the United Kingdom) with the assistance of Shire Lord . The Canada infobox never did use the word independence.
The content of the box is different for Canada, of course, since the process to independence was different than in Australia. For example, in 1831, Canada allowed Britain to retain the authority to amend the constitution (with the consent of the Canadian Government). It was only in 1982 that the authority was reclaimed by Canada: Patriation, the final step to full sovereignty.
 • Confederation July 1, 1867 
 • Statute of Westminster December 11, 1931 
 • Patriation April 17, 1982 
Peter K Burian (talk) 22:38, 10 February 2017 (UTC)
In the Australia infobox, should you not show Statute of Westminster 1931, 9 October 1942 (with effect from 3 September 1939). There is a Wikipedia article, Statute of Westminster 1931: The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and modified versions of it ....
And, based on this UK source, it does seem that the correct name of the act is Statute of Westminster 1931

Peter K Burian (talk) 22:56, 10 February 2017 (UTC)

Having had my attention drawn to Canada, I could support the expression "Establishment of Full Sovereignty (from the United Kingdom)". The idea that Australia became independent upon Federation has had very few takers—among the higher judiciary only Lionel Murphy. On the other hand, the Treaty of Versailles, 1919 is significant for both Australia and Canada, since they signed it autonomously—though maybe to add it here would be confusing since Britain was an actual party on their behalf. Also in the interest of clarity, I'd leave the 1942 act by itself, since the question here is the timeline and for Australia 1942 is an operative date while 1931 is not.
But I'll make you an alternative offer, from one of the main textbooks on Australian constitutional law (Blackshield & Williams): "Path to Independence (from the United Kingdom)". Less clunky, no? Wikiain (talk) 23:50, 10 February 2017 (UTC)
I don't see the need for brackets around "from the United Kingdom" given it's already in non-bold font, making the two de-emphasisers somewhat redundant. What improvement is this change intended to bring? We already have all three dates. CMD (talk) 00:24, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
The only date that should be in the info-box is 1901, when the state was created. The road to independence was based more on precedent than statue and so there are no other clear dates that belong in the info-box. The UK in fact had no power to unilaterally change the Australian constitution or to block amendments before the 1986 constitutional change. TFD (talk) 02:35, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
Yes, TFD, I was trying work along with the proposal but I'd be more comfortable with saying just "Establishment ... 1901" (maybe a bit like "Oz Co., Est. 1901"). Though technically the UK, by repealing its Commonwealth of Australia Act 1900, could have abolished and replaced the Australian Constitution up to 1986. Australia has no constitutional milestone comparable with Federation (unless the founding of the colonies, beginning with "British Invasion 1788"...) Wikiain (talk) 03:57, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
"Technically," the UK could still repeal the Australian constitution just as they could revoke American independence or order the sea to retreat. But it would have no effect. TFD (talk) 04:13, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
When it all comes down to it, "Independence", "Path to Independence" and "Establishment of Full Sovereignty" all really mean the same thing. Independence was not a one step process so there's no really good way of saying it, but "independence" is a single word, and we should be brief in the infobox. Why make it more clunky than it needs to be, and more confusing for readers? --AussieLegend () 07:06, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
I agree. On other pages many editors get in a lather about the whole 'when did Oz become independent?' thing. It's not all that important, to be honest. Even after the Australia Act some still maintain that we are dependent upon the Succession Acts of the United Kingdom. Why not simply state the important dates which mark the development of our life as a nation?Gazzster (talk) 07:32, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
Actually, I was little bit wrong. "Establishment of Full Sovereignty" implies a date that full sovereignty occurred, and, since independence has been a multi-stage process there is no one date that we can use, so "Establishment of Full Sovereignty" should not be used at all. Regarding Peter K Burian's assertion that we shouldn't mention Statute of Westminster 1931 in the infobox, this was thrashed out back in 2008. The Statute of Westminster was specifically backdated to take effect on the first day of WWII. Had it not been, some of the legislation that was enacted during the war would not have been legal. It's a very important part of our road to independence, so it's something that does need to be mentioned. --AussieLegend () 09:06, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
The Statute of Westminster 1931 merely put the Balfour Declaration of 1926 into legal form. It had said, "They are autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations." The Balfour Declaration merely stated the reality of the relationship. The separate international personality of the Dominions had been accepted by the League of Nations in 1919. I don't see why all these dates should be mentioned in the info-box. I would just put in 1901, the year the Commonwealth was created. The nuances can be explained in the article. TFD (talk) 11:30, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
The problem is, we didn't have full independence in 1901. --AussieLegend () 19:12, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
According to the Government of Australia, "Australia became an independent nation on 1 January 1901 when the British Parliament passed legislation allowing the six Australian colonies to govern in their own right as part of the Commonwealth of Australia."[1] Of course it took 85 years to catch up with the paperwork, while in the case of all countries given independence after Second World War, it was done all at once. While one could argue when exactly Australia became independent, there is certainty it was created in 1901 and that date, which we could call "Federation." While you say Australia did not have full independence, the reality is that the UK exercised no authority over Australia. Its real power was the same as the U.S. today, a global superpower that smaller nations followed. TFD (talk) 21:20, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
That website statement is good shopfront but romantic. Britain declared war on Germany in 1914 (and in 1939?) on behalf of the whole Empire: Australia was then at war as a component of the Empire. The Commonwealth until 1942, and the States individually until 1986, were unable to legislate inconsistently with ("repugnantly" to) Imperial law. The earliest sensible date to identify full independence is 1986, with the Australia Acts. Even then, the "sovereign" of the UK is still automatically that of Australia and the succession rules are made by the UK (albeit that changes to them require Australia's consent). So I'm still going for "Established ... 1901". Wikiain (talk) 00:01, 12 February 2017 (UTC)

^^^ Incorrect. The Australia Acts 1986 had nothing to do with the Commonwealth. They were relevant to the states only - removing the option to appeal from state supreme courts to the judicial committee of the privy council (a court which several independent nations still have appeals to today). To be honest, if we were talking about independence of the states here, the most relevant dates in the timeline by far would be the granting of self government to the colonies in the 1850s. The Commonwealth has been fully independent in theory since 1942 and in practice since 1901. Prior to 1942 the UK could legislate for Australia but never in fact did so. Similarly, the Queen of Australia has been the same person as the Queen of the United Kingdom (and the Queen of Canada, etc) and we followed the British in to two wars - but this was by choice. At the time, there was little question among the population that these were the natural choices to be made, but nonetheless you cannot say a country is not independent because of a choice that it makes. I think we either go with independence at keep it as it is now (although I find inclusion of the Australia Acts to be dubious as they are not related to the country's independence) or with establishment and keep 1901 only. I would personally favour the latter. If we wanted to keep it as it is and make the wording more accurate we might say "constitutional history" but even then, the inclusion of the Australia Acts would be wrong as they had no effect on the Commonwealth Constitution. --Saruman-the-white (talk) 01:20, 12 February 2017 (UTC)

According to one expert, the power of veto had become obsolete by 1848.[2] It was Australia's decision to raise money and troops for the First World War. In the 19th century Canada had refused to participate in the Crimean War. So Australia had de facto independence since its founding and assumed responsibility for its foreign policy and defense by 1919, and this reality was reflected in the Balfour Declaration, the Statute of Westminster and patriation. Some remnants of colonialism remain: a shared monarch and Commonwealth citizenship, the exchange of high commissioners rather than ambassadors. Unlike other former colonies, the Dominions achieved independence through practice rather than statutes or treaties, and the formal statutes lagged well behind the reality. And there are independent countries that rely on other countries for their defense or foreign relations. Even today, Canadian passports say, "In countries where there is no Canadian office, applications may be made in an emergency to the nearest British diplomatic or consular office." TFD (talk) 03:05, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
Saruman-the-white: what I said was correct. Section 1 of the Australia Acts refers primarily to the Commonwealth, although the effect as to the Commonwealth is only to restate the effect of the Statute of Westminster: but that is not the same as having "nothing to do with the Commonwealth". When section 1 goes on to refer to the States, and then sections 2 and 3 refer to legislative powers of the States, the effect is to remove the States from the "repugnancy" restriction, which for the States had survived the Statute of Westminster. Similarly, section 10 frees the States, as the Statute of Westminster had freed the Commonwealth (albeit codifying existing Imperial convention), from intervention by the British government. Then section 11 terminates almost all avenues of appeal from any Australian court to the Privy Council (the exception is in Constitution section 74, which however is extremely unlikely to be used), although the effect was mainly on the State supreme courts since Commonwealth legislation had removed appeals from the High Court to the Privy Council by 1975. The Australia Acts did not and could not have had any effect upon the Australian Constitution, but they did have effects upon sub-constitutional law that was relevant to independence. Nonetheless, none of this matters if the infobox refers to "Establishment" and only Federation in 1901 is mentioned. Wikiain (talk) 03:18, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
After a lengthy discussion, consensus has been achieved for the Canada article - we agree that 'independence from the United Kingdom' is most appropriate. I have no issue with the same words being used for the Australia article. Australia, like Canada, is fully independent of British rule. It therefore makes sense to leave the Aussie piece as is. NorthernFactoid (talk) 00:14, 18 February 2017 (UTC)

The bottom line: independence from the UK (sovereignty)[edit]

There is too much information in the article to really get a quick appreciation as to when independence from the UK was gained. Here is a summary of the steps:

*1901: The British Parliament passed legislation allowing the six Australian colonies to govern in their own right as part of the Commonwealth of Australia.

This was not full independence ... the United Kingdom still retained the power to make laws for Australia and to overturn laws made by the Australian Parliament.

AND the states remained colonial dependencies of the British crown.

    *1927: Balfour Declaration of 1926 Australia gained further nationhood ... declared that Britain and its Dominions were constitutionally equal to each other.  probably not particularly significant

*1931: The Statute of Westminster 1931 was passed by British Parliament ... prevented the British Parliament from making laws for its dominions except where it was required by a dominion’s own laws

Bizarrely, the states remained colonial dependencies of the British crown. (Was Australia actually "independent" yet??)

   *1942: [[Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942}}  Australian Parliament that formally adopted the Statute of Westminster 1931 i.e. "Yes, thanks, we'll accept it". How important is this, really? 

*1986 full independence: Australia Act 1986, which effectively terminated the ability of the British Parliament to make laws for Australia or its States even at their request. It also advanced Australian sovereignty by breaking the right of appeal from our courts to the British Privy Council. ... the British government is no longer responsible for the government of any state and the Westminster parliament can no longer legislate for Australia. Most important, they transferred into Australian hands full control of all Australia's constitutional documents.

So March 3, 1986, is the day Australia achieved complete independence from Britain.

Some useful sources:,3127 (confirms that the states remained colonial dependencies of the British Crown until the Australia Acts 1986)

@Lord Eastfarthing: Do you agree with the content of the above?

Peter K Burian (talk) 15:18, 12 February 2017 (UTC)

Yes I agree; this is progressive independence so it would be better to say Sovereignty from United Kingdom, as the Canada article states. Shire Lord (talk) 15:48, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
You are ignoring constitutional convention which was more important. Britain did not in fact legislate for Australia (except to amend its constitution at its request) and did not overturn its laws. It had no right to do so, which was acknowledged (not enacted) in the Balfour Declaration. It says, "we refer to the group of self-governing communities composed of Great Britain and the Dominions. Their position and mutual relation may be readily defined. They are autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations." The Declaration further says, "it is recognised that it is the right of the Government of each Dominion to advise the Crown in all matters relating to its own affairs. Consequently, it would not be in accordance with constitutional practice for advice to be tendered to His Majesty by His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain in any matter appertaining to the affairs of a Dominion against the views of the Government of that Dominion." Accordingly, Australia marks 1901 as the date of its independence, i.e., it has been independent since its foundation. TFD (talk) 16:04, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
The argument here is progressive independence - Australia was not fully independent in 1901. A dominion is classed as semi-independent (quasi-independent). If constitutional convention is being used then the wording would be sovereignty or autonomy not independence. Shire Lord (talk) 17:18, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
Do you have any sources that explain the distinction between sovereignty and independence? And who classes a dominion as semi-independent? TFD (talk) 20:59, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
Do you have any reliable sources for the date of independence given above - or any alternate phrasing? The High Court considered this matter in Sue v Hill and was unable to determine an exact date. --Pete (talk) 21:33, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
When Australia became independent was a tangential issue in Sue v. Hill. The decision said, "Australia and the United Kingdom have their own laws as to nationality so that their citizens owe different allegiances." (97.) Those laws were enacted in the UK and Australia in 1947-48, prior to which by common law they were equally British subjects. During the Hanoverian era, Great Britain and Hanover had the same monarch hence were equally British subjects although they were independent of each other. On the other hand, separate citizenship can be created before independence. Moreover, the judges decided that "foreign power" should be given its ordinary meaning. "Foreign" means "of another country." In that sense, the UK has always been foreign to Australia. TFD (talk) 00:32, 14 February 2017 (UTC)

The point is that Australia, like other Dominions, gained rights after their original independence was declared: The following is an extract from Volume 1 of the Final Report of the Constitutional Commission 1998. The report was forwarded to the then Attorney-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, 

[AFTER 1901, BEFORE 1931] 2.118 The creation of the Commonwealth of Australia by the union of the six Australian colonies did not in itself change the status of Australia or its relationship with the United Kingdom. The restrictions referred to above on the power of colonial Governments and legislatures continued, generally speaking, to apply to both the States and the Commonwealth. The same was true of the other great Dominions of the Crown, which by 1910 included Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Newfoundland. NOT TOTAL SOVEREIGNTY

2.124 ... There remained, however, some other legal disabilities on the Dominions, which conflicted with the broad scope of the Balfour Declaration, and which had to be removed by Imperial enactment. The Parliaments of the Dominions could not make laws contrary to Acts of the Imperial Parliament which operated in the Dominions, because of the provisions of the Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865 (Imp). There was also some doubt as to whether the Dominion Parliaments could make laws operating outside their territories. These restrictions were abolished by the Statute of Westminster 1931 (Imp) (sections 2 and 3) subject. in the case of Australia, to the adoption of the Act by the Parliament of the Commonwealth. This was done by the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942 (Cth), to operate from the outbreak of World War II, that is, 3 September 1939.

2.125 The legislative supremacy of the United Kingdom Parliament remained, but section 4 of the Statute of Westminster 1931 (Imp) provided that no Act of the United Kingdom Parliament should extend to a Dominion as part of its law unless it expressly declared that the Dominion had requested and consented to its enactment. Sections 8 and 9 of the Statute of Westminster 1931 (Imp) ensured that the power given to the Parliament of the Commonwealth to repeal or amend Imperial laws operating in Australia did not extend to overriding the Constitution.

2.128 It is clear from these events, and recognition by the world community, that at some time between 1926 and the end of World War II [ended in 1945] Australia had achieved full independence as a sovereign state of the world. The British Government ceased to have any responsibility in relation to matters coming within the area of responsibility of the Federal Government and Parliament.


AFTER 1945 There were still many benefits in terms of total sovereignty: The Australia Act 1986 removed any remaining links between the British Parliament and the Australian states. ... removed the right of the British Parliament to make laws for Australia and ended any British role in the government of the Australian States... It also removed the right of appeal from Australian courts to the British Privy Council in London. Most important, the Act transferred into Australian hands full control of all Australia's constitutional documents. |title=Australia Act 1986 publisher=[[Australasian Legal Information Institute Peter K Burian (talk) 22:16, 12 February 2017 (UTC)

So where's your source for an exact date? Are you familiar with WP:SYNTH? --Pete (talk) 22:22, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
Exact date of what?Peter K Burian (talk) 22:31, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
The two Australia Acts remove the outmoded links between Australia and the United Kingdom parliamentary, government and judicial systems. They reflect Australia’s status as an independent and sovereign nation. Her Majesty’s position as Queen of Australia is in no way affected.

The major features of the Acts include: ◾An end to appeals from Australian courts of law to the Privy Council, making the High Court of Australia the final court of appeal for Australian courts on all matters. ◾An end to the powers of the United Kingdom Parliament and Government over the States.An end to United Kingdom legislation, such as the Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865, restricting the legislative powers of the States to repeal or update old Imperial laws still applying to them.

The following is an outline of the constitutional links ended by the Australia Acts: [UK LOSES THESE RIGHTS]]

Power of the United Kingdom Parliament to enact legislation having effect as part of Australian law. ◾The Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865 and the ” repugnancy” rule (ie the rule that State legislation inconsistent with United Kingdom laws extending to the States is invalid to that extent). ◾Possible implied limitations on powers of State Parliaments, deriving from their former colonial status. ◾Merchant Shipping Act 1894 ( limitations on State powers to regulate merchant shipping). ◾Queen’s power to withhold assent from, or disallow, State laws on the advice of United Kingdom Ministers. ◾Appeals to the Privy Council from State Courts. Peter K Burian (talk) 22:31, 12 February 2017 (UTC)

Well, let's start with a reliable source for complete independence. Don't try to argue whatever case it is you're making, just come up with a source, and it would help if you provided the wording you identify as supporting the claim. Thanks. --Pete (talk) 22:34, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
Fine, I'll take this one: Australia was independent by 1945 (after the end of the war according to this source) extract from Volume 1 of the Final Report of the Constitutional Commission 1998. 
That does not diminish the value of the Australia Act 1986 in providing Australia with additional freedoms from the UK and powers. The two Australia Acts remove the outmoded links between Australia and the United Kingdom parliamentary, government and judicial systems. They reflect Australia’s status as an independent and sovereign nation. Her Majesty’s position as Queen of Australia is in no way affected.

Peter K Burian (talk) 22:42, 12 February 2017 (UTC)

I'm seeing argument, but no exact date. Does this mean you can't find a source? --Pete (talk) 22:53, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
I understand the argument too. But note that the Colonial Laws Validty Act actually did not limit the powers of the Australian government since the UK could not disallow legislation. Incidentally, Australia was recognized as a sovereign nation by the Treaty of Paris 1919. The United States did not recognize Canada until 1926, basing its decision of the Balfour Declaration 1926, while for some reason it did not recognize Australia until 1940. So, Australia was independent from its foundation, but obsolete legislation from colonial days was only removed gradually. And the reason it was gradual was that it was obsolete, hence no urgency, and no reason to stir up hornets nests in the Dominions: republicanism in Australia, French nationalism in Canada, race relations in South Africa. Today, Australia has real restrictions on its sovereigny in the form of military and trade treaties, but so does every other country. TFD (talk) 23:23, 12 February 2017 (UTC)

^I agree with TFD's position. I think in the sidebar, we should only list 'establishment' (1901). The rest is too complicated for the sidebar. The sidebar is a place for the most crucial information about a country in brief form. As we have seen, this was the key transformative date and the others were comparatively imperceptible shifts which were more a matter of theory than practical reality. As such, I think they can be briefly outlined in the body but they do not have the transformative significance in practical terms to go in the infobox. I am definitely in favour of listing the only real key date of any practical significance, namely 1901. The reality is, the country has been set up and functioned the same way under the same constitution since 1 Jan 1901 - one of the oldest surviving continuous constitutional orders. While talking about the catch up of some of the largely theoretical elements is interesting in theory for people interested in constitutional law such as myself, and there is a place for it in more detailed discussion, it certainly isn't vital enough to go in the infobox--Saruman-the-white (talk) 12:18, 13 February 2017 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 12 February 2017[edit]

Australia was first discovered by the portuguese in 1522, but this event is usually attributed to the dutch. Portuguese hided the proofs for many years in order to keep other european explorers away from Oceania. The proofs, story and maps are available here: & Thank you! Leoferreirapt (talk) 19:31, 12 February 2017 (UTC)

  • Not done: Historical consensus does not support this. --AussieLegend () 20:10, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
Here is the government of Australia's position on discovery (the accepted historical facts. Note: there is not a word about the Portugese. It was discovered by the Dutch.
  The first records of European mariners sailing into 'Australian' waters occurs around 1606, and includes their observations of the land known as Terra Australis Incognita (unknown southern land). The first ship and crew to chart the Australian coast and meet with Aboriginal people was the Duyfken captained by Dutchman, Willem Janszoon.
  Between 1606 and 1770, an estimated 54 European ships from a range of nations made contact. Many of these were merchant ships from the Dutch East Indies Company and included the ships of Abel Tasman. Tasman charted parts of the north, west and south coasts of Australia which was then known as New Holland.
  In 1770, Englishman Lieutenant James Cook charted the Australian east coast in his ship HM Barque Endeavour. Cook claimed the east coast under instruction from King George III of England on 22 August 1770 at Possession Island, naming eastern Australia 'New South Wales'. The coast of Australia, featuring Tasmania as a separate island, was mapped in detail by the English mariners and navigators Bass and Flinders, and the French mariner, Baudin. 
Peter K Burian (talk) 20:18, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
Yes - these references to retired journalist Peter Trickett's Beyond Capricorn appear from time to time on Wikipedia, and unfortunately his work is continually presented as though it's something new. It's not, it was written in 2007. There is almost universal consensus amongst academics that the Dutch were the first Europeans to sight Australia. And quite a lot has been written since Trickett by Robert J. King, Gayle K. Brunelle and others on the Dieppe Maps in particular. Nickm57 (talk) 04:40, 13 February 2017 (UTC)

Was Australia ever a dependency?[edit]

I'll throw in my own chips by asking the question the other way round. I think we are all agreed that 1 Jan 1901 was significant. The day before, "Australia" was an island/continent occupied by five colonies (Tasmania was another colony on a nearby island by the same name). On 1 January, a new nation came into being, legally (but not socially) independent of all others, sharing our monarch with several other dominions. Yes, appeals could be made to the Privy Council, but that is Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council which advises the monarch, not the UK government. There may be a separate question as to how independent the colonies/states were at various times, but they clearly had enough independence to cede various powers to the Commonwealth in 1901.

I guess Australia is "in personal union with" Canada, UK and the other dominions, in the same was as the Kingdom of Hanover was in personal union with the UK from 1714 to 1837, before its rules of succession separated it. The Perth Agreement limits the opportunity to break out of the personal union as Hanover did in 1837. --Scott Davis Talk 03:47, 13 February 2017 (UTC)

Oh perleeeze! Not only does this raise nothing new but it also contains several errors. I'll just point out the two most definite of them: (1) appeals "to the Privy Council" were to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, a court composed of law lords and operating separately from the PC as a whole; (2) the Perth Agreement is only an application of the Statute of Westminster. Let's not proceed with this section. Wikiain (talk) 07:09, 13 February 2017 (UTC) Wikiain (talk) 07:09, 13 February 2017 (UTC)

The Perth Agreement is not binding on Australia and there is no impediment to the country changing its succession law without agreement of the other Commonwealth Realms. TFD (talk) 15:44, 13 February 2017 (UTC)
Australia is a party to the Perth Agreement and has abided by it: that's all that matters. The rest of what you say concerns a somewhat remote possibility. Wikiain (talk) 00:27, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
Matters to what? Australia is actually not a party to the Perth agreement, the PM of Australia was. But Australia is a party to real treaties, such as the Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna, but that does not mean it is not a sovereign state. TFD (talk) 02:05, 14 February 2017 (UTC)

I don't think you understand constitutional law very well. Australia has implemented the Perth Agreement through legislation by choice which it could repeal at will. It is mere statute. It is not constitutionally entrenched. Similarly, Australia has thousands of agreements with other countries which have similarly been implemented by statute. Your argument is the equivalent of saying that both Australia and Italy have the same law on the statute books with respect to x common healthcare policy thus Italy's sovereignty is impeded when in fact a huge amount of law is common between countries and what SOVEREIGNTY means is that the law was passed freely by the country and that there is no impediment to it repealing it at will. Your arguments betray a surprising lack of understanding of constitutional law for someone who is so keen on changing the consensus.--Saruman-the-white (talk) 01:23, 14 February 2017 (UTC)

What I don't understand is what you are getting at. Wikiain (talk) 01:40, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
I'd say that about sums it up.--Saruman-the-white (talk) 03:31, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
I think they are reiterating my point. That the Perth agreement did not limit the sovereignty of Australia. TFD (talk) 02:07, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
I never suggested that it did. I just said that Australia was a party to the Agreement. The PM of Australia signed on behalf of Australia, as an exercise of Australian sovereignty. That makes Australia a "party to" the Agreement, though not in the same way as with a treaty. It's an agreement among members of the Commonwealth "family". Wikiain (talk) 02:27, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
So it's as relevant to our sovereignty as a free trade deal with Thailand which is similarly implemented by means of consensual legislation and which could be repealed at will--Saruman-the-white (talk) 03:31, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
If you are asking whether there is any impediment, in Australian law or in international law, to repealing or amending the Australian legislation that gives effect in Australia to the Perth Agreement: no. Australia's adherence to the Agreement was an act of Australian sovereignty and in no way a restriction of it. Wikiain (talk) 03:53, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
The PM did not sign on behalf of Australia and Australia is not a party to the agreement. The agreement, which is quoted in full in the Wikipedia article, merely says, “The Prime Ministers have agreed that they will each work within their respective administrations to bring forward the necessary measures to enable all the realms to give effect to these changes simultaneously.” She had to get parliamentary approval and states' approval and left office before that was done. In no way were they bound by the Perth agreement to do that. TFD (talk) 04:00, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
Thank you for the correction about signing. But I do insist that the PM made Australia a party to the Agreement; her own agreement was as the Australian head of government and accordingly it committed Australia. That was why the next PM proceeded as had been agreed. As to seeking those approvals, the Perth Statement also says: “The Prime Ministers have agreed that they will each work within their respective administrations to bring forward the necessary measures to enable all the realms to give effect to these changes simultaneously.” Thus each of the Commonwealth realms was bound to take measures of that kind, albeit that in each realm the process would have been different. "Bound" morally and politically, possibly even "legally" in some broad sense though let's not get into that—but I think we would agree that it was a free exercise of Australian sovereignty. Wikiain (talk) 05:38, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
It was her personal agreement to get Australia to make the necessary changes. She had no authority to agree to the changes on behalf of Australia's federal and state parliaments. At most she was agreeing on behalf of the federal executive not to change the law but to persuade the legislators to do that. Had she failed, then the law would not have been changed and there would be no claim for any other country to make against Australia. TFD (talk) 12:58, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
She gave an undertaking on behalf of Australia, as the Australian head of government. It was not "personal" in relation to the other Commonwealth realms. That is, there was no question of Australian "dependency". Wikiain (talk) 13:18, 14 February 2017 (UTC)

Only insiders can edit this article?? Wikipedia:Dispute resolution to follow[edit]

Well, Waldo must be happy today as he deleted/reverted every edit I had made to the sovereignty from the UK sections.

 Latest revision as of 02:57, 13 February 2017 HappyWaldo  (→‎Nationhood:  rv to original. progress towards full independence explained concisely. recent edits have bogged the section down in WP:TMI, looks messy)

Looks messy? Additional facts, fully cited, are messy? Does Concise mean: "omit any content that were not added by you and by a few other insiders?"

For example, which of these citations provided information that is not accurate OR is not necessary? |title=Australia's last brick of nationhood |last=Donovan |first=David |date=6 December 2010 |website=Australian Broadcasting Corporation |publisher=Australian Broadcasting Corporation |access-date=12 February 2017 |quote=Many people incorrectly assume that Australia became a fully independent and sovereign nation on January 1st 1901 with Federation |title=The De-Colonisation of the Australian States, Paper No. 07/19 |last=Twomey |first=Anne |date=May 2007 |website=SSRN |publisher=Sydney Law School Research |access-date=12 February 2017 |quote=Statute of Westminster 1931, the Australian States remained 'self-governing colonial dependencies of the British Crown' until the Australia Acts 1986 came into force. |title=The De-Colonisation of the Australian States, Paper No. 07/19 |last=Twomey |first=Anne |date=May 2007 |website=SSRN |publisher=Sydney Law School Research |access-date=12 February 2017 |quote=the Australian States remained 'self-governing colonial dependencies of the British Crown' until the Australia Acts 1986 came into force |title=Australia's last brick of nationhood |last=Donovan |first=David |date=6 December 2010 |website=Australian Broadcasting Corporation |publisher=Australian Broadcasting Corporation |access-date=12 February 2017 |quote=Furthermore, despite the Australia Act, the Queen retains several powers under the Australia Constitution. For instance, under s59 of the Constitution, she has the power to disallow any Australian law within a year of its enactment, though by convention she refuses to use this power. Perhaps to remind us she retains such powers she does, however, sometimes perform some Constitutional function – such as giving the Royal Assent to an Act of Parliament – for ceremonial purposes during a Royal visits. In addition, the Queen also appoints her representative in Australia, the Governor General. Also by convention, she does so only on the advice of the Australian Prime Minister

journal |last=Waugh |first=John |date=2011 |title=An Australian in the palace of the king-emperor: James Scullin, George v and the appointment of the first Australian-born governor-general |url= |journal=Federal Law Review |volume=39 |issue=2 |pages=235-253 |issn=0067-205X |access-date=12 February 2017 Peter K Burian (talk) 15:53, 13 February 2017 (UTC)

WP:DISPUTE Talk page discussion is a prerequisite to almost all of Wikipedia's venues of higher dispute resolution. If you wish at any time to request a Third Opinion (3O), use the Dispute Resolution Noticeboard (DRN), or open a request for mediation (RFM), you will be expected to show there has been talk page discussion of the dispute. Peter K Burian (talk) 15:53, 13 February 2017 (UTC)
We are talking about dates to use in the lead. What does the fact that the Queen may be asked to rubber-stamp legislation when she is visiting have to do with what dates to put in the info-box? It is distracting to seeing walls of text posted with no explanation of their relevance. TFD (talk) 16:33, 13 February 2017 (UTC)
I reject the premise implicit in this thread title. New editors and new points of view are always welcome. However, we all follow the procedures established over the long and productive years of Wikipedia's rise, and we support the five pillars that hold the thing up. PKB, you are not participating in discussion if you cannot address the concerns raised by other editors. --Pete (talk) 17:38, 13 February 2017 (UTC)
Deleting all content that I add does not seem to be the collaboration that Wikipedia discusses. I believe that every single word, and every single citation that I have added has been reverted.
No one, no matter how skilled, or how high standing in the community, has the right to act as though they are the owner of a particular page. Also, a person or an organization that is the subject of an article does not own the article, and has no right to dictate what the article may say. WP:OWNERSHIP Peter K Burian (talk) 21:45, 13 February 2017 (UTC)
You should stepback and look at why your having the same problem in multiple articles. What makes more sense here...that many many editors in diffent articles are out to "get you" or that its your placment of content it's sourcing and wording that is the problem? --Moxy (talk) 21:53, 13 February 2017 (UTC)
No, not many editors are revising content that I add to articles. In fact, it's a single one in all three articles about Canada.
And in Australia, one editor reverted my content on sovereignty and one reverts the content on colonization. Peter K Burian (talk) 22:06, 13 February 2017 (UTC)

@Pete Thanks for your comment. I have been discussing the issue of sovereignty in the Talk sections ... extensively.

  5 Propose change to Establishment of Full Sovereignty
  6 The bottom line: independence from the UK (sovereignty)
  7 Semi-protected edit request on 12 February 2017

But then, every word I had added (fully cited content) was reverted:

  02:57, 13 February 2017‎ HappyWaldo (talk | contribs)‎ . . (177,910 bytes) (-3,928)‎ . . (→‎Nationhood:  rv to original. progress towards full independence explained concisely. recent edits have bogged the section down in WP:TMI, looks messy) 

I am not aware of any Talk topics about colonisation. So, I did some work on that section and all of it was deleted.

    22:02, 12 February 2017‎ Skyring (talk | contribs)‎ . . (181,843 bytes) (-2,184)‎ . . (Reverted to revision 765137946 by Bahudhara (talk): Appears to be based on self-published book. Please discuss on talk. (TW)) 

And in fact, most of the content reverted at 22:02 was cited with strong sources (not the Commons book): |title=Our Austral |newspaper=The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956) |location=Melbourne, Vic. |date=27 January 1940 |access date=12 February 2017 |page=8 Supplement: The Argus Weekend magazine |publisher=National Library of Australia |title=European discovery and the colonisation of Australia - First Fleet and a British Colony |author= |date=2015 |website=Government of Australia |publisher=Government of Australia |access-date=12 February 2017 Peter K Burian (talk) 22:06, 13 February 2017 (UTC)

I think your issue is that you come to a page expecting to be able to make whatever changes you want notwithstanding what anyone else may think. The reality is it is what weight is given to is more of a democratic process. Clearly you have put yourself in the minority and the changes have been rejected by the majority. When this occurs, the solution is not to continuously try to force the edit which has been rejected.--Saruman-the-white (talk) 22:48, 13 February 2017 (UTC)
It is not a majority who reverts content added by others. Most of these were prior to my involvement:

00:35, 5 January 2017‎ HappyWaldo (talk | contribs)‎ . . (178,577 bytes) (-1,708)‎ . . (→‎Environmental issues: threats to wildlife adequately covered in biodiversity section. i think all of the material in 'environmental issues' could be absorbed in other sections) (undo | thank)

04:38, 12 February 2017‎ HappyWaldo (talk | contribs)‎ . . (177,686 bytes) (-1,593)‎ . . (→‎Geography: recover edit (rv presumably by mistake)) (undo | thank)

02:18, 12 February 2017‎ Saruman-the-white (talk | contribs)‎ . . (179,045 bytes) (-234)‎ . . (Undid. Not a constitutional tie. Succession is governed by mere legislation which could be changed by a simple majority in parliament at will.) (undo | thank)

18:41, 3 January 2017‎ HappyWaldo (talk | contribs)‎ . . (180,080 bytes) (-1,814)‎ . . ("If your edit gets reverted, do not revert again. Instead, begin a discussion with the person who reverted your change to establish consensus." WP:BRD) (undo | thank)

08:26, 3 January 2017‎ HappyWaldo (talk | contribs)‎ . . (180,081 bytes) (-785)‎ . . (→‎Cuisine: why 4 references, just more article size bloat) (undo | thank)

08:24, 3 January 2017‎ HappyWaldo (talk | contribs)‎ . . (180,866 bytes) (-847)‎ . . (→‎Government: used to have kirribilli house here too but we decided to remove cause one building (parliament house) is enough) (undo | thank)

08:19, 3 January 2017‎ HappyWaldo (talk | contribs)‎ . . (181,713 bytes) (-394)‎ . . (→‎Media: too listy, overlinking (sea of blue)) (undo | thank)

19:00, 2 January 2017‎ HappyWaldo (talk | contribs)‎ . . (179,284 bytes) (-586)‎ . . (→‎Government: overboard w images. doubt many Australians could recognise high court building) Peter K Burian (talk) 23:18, 13 February 2017 (UTC)

Does anyone understand what Peter is trying to say or show us above. --2605:8D80:5C1:3465:D465:BE5A:AD90:13ED (talk) 03:20, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
It's not at all clear, and I don't have the time to read all the sources to find if any wording supports PKB's often startling conclusions. Some of the sources are very dubious. Trying to puzzle out his indentation strategy is a task in itself. Perhaps instead of trying to make bold and bulk changes in many articles at once, he could pick one point in one article and we can chew that over? --Pete (talk) 05:33, 14 February 2017 (UTC)


Given the current kerfuffle over "establishment" versus "independence from..." I do not understand why both can't be incorporated into a single solution, like many other infoboxes do. For example, Brunei has Formation as the title for the infobox section with "creation" for the first date, and "Independence from the United Kingdom" along with its appropriate date as well. I think this model makes a great deal of sense:

1. "Formation" is a more accurate description than "establishment" (really the first date is what establishes something, such as an official claim or a first permanent habitation) and "Independence from..." (which is really quite narrow and actually shifts a great deal of focus to a different country, ie the United Kingdom).

2. "Formation" allows for a more accurate depiction of the formation of Australia to what it currently is today, and recognises the fluid and organic nature of its evolution, while also leaving the focus entirely on the topic of this article which is Australia itself, and not on independence (or the UK).

3. This also allows for both viewpoints resulting in this dispute to be incorporated in a true collaborative spirit. Namely that those supporting "establishment" get their way in that Australia was "established" in 1901 (although why not start with 1788? I'm not Australian but I would assume if the date is important enough to become the National Day of Australia it is important enough for a mention in the infobox), and those wishing for "Independence from..." get their way as "Independence from the United Kingdom" could be used for the 1986 date.

In this way it seems to me we would have an infobox that is concise with only three of four dates, clearly and accurately depicts the fluid and organic nature of Australia's formation over time, and incorporates both the establishment and independence aspects of Australia's history, which are both important. In this way we may be left with something which may end up looking something like this (obviously Establishment could be 1901 instead of 1788, and the titles and blue links would change depending on consensus, this is just a very rough suggestion):


Establishment 26 January 1788

Federation 1 January 1901

Legislative Autonomy 9 October 1942 (with effect from 3 September 1939)

Independence from the United Kingdom 3 March 1986

trackratte (talk) 06:32, 14 February 2017 (UTC)

Trackratte, without doubting your good intentions, please look again at Australia Day. I think you will see how "Formation" starting in 1788 would be highly problematical. We could have "Formation" said to begin maybe 60,000 years ago, but then we would have to rethink the article. At the moment the article is about the political entity "Commonwealth of Australia" and that entity certainly has an establishment date of 1 January 1901. I'm uncomfortable with the implication that there was no political entity "Australia" earlier than that, but the infobox has to reflect the current content of the article. Wikiain (talk) 07:17, 14 February 2017 (UTC)

The comparison with Brunei is a bit ridiculous, Brunei existed long before it even knew the UK existed, and became a protectorate and then became independent again without huge changes. As for focus, I find it hard to see the focus shifting much. At any rate, Australia was a union of six British colonies. CMD (talk) 07:38, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
As we have explained, 1986 is certainly NOT the date that would be used for 'independence'. There's no point continuing to go around in circles here. 1986 is most certainly not the date that should be used for independence (it is far less relevant to Australia, ie the federal commonwealth, the subject of this article, than the statute of westminster. Furthermore in practical reality as the UK never legislated for Australia post-1901, 1901 is by far the most important date. The infobox should stay as it is and Wikiain should stop frivolously trying to reiterate his viewpoint again and again.--Saruman-the-white (talk) 10:51, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
I suggest we put just one of those lines in the info=box (Federation 1 January 1901) and leave all the discussion about Australia's constitutional development to the main article. In this, we are able to consult tertiary sources to see what they do. The CIA Factbook says: "Independence: 1 January 1901 (from the federation of UK colonies)).[3] In ordinary English, federation was formation in that the country was formed by federating the colonies. TFD (talk) 12:47, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
Saruman-the-white: kindly stop being personal. I have consistently been canvassing what might be the most appropriate date to identify Australian "establishment" or "independence", which were the options initially proposed. As to "independence" at or by 1986, there is the authority of the High Court of Australia in Sue v Hill. One doesn't have to agree with the High Court's sense of history, but the decision has to be taken into account both as an informed view of the history and as a set of legally authoritative statements. TFD: the CIA Factbook is badly researched; check textbooks of Australian constitutional law. As to "establishment" of the political entity "Commonwealth of Australia", I have been preferring 1901.
Everybody: can we agree on "Establishment" and 1 January 1901 and then nothing else? Wikiain (talk) 13:05, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
I am using the CIA factbook as a tertiary source. "Reliable tertiary sources...may be helpful in evaluating due weight." It's not that I presenting the CIA as a source for facts, but merely to show what information the typical reader show expect to see in the extremely brief summary in the info-box.
Why do you want to say "Establishment" instead of "Federation?" How was Australia established? Through federation. Why use a vague term when an exact one will do?
TFD (talk) 14:48, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
Given the current kerfuffle over "establishment" versus "independence from..." I do not understand - I do not understand why there is a kerfuffle at all, and why it has resulted in 8,000 words of discussion, much of what amounts to gobbledygook. If the Canadians are having issues, that's their problem. It doesn't mean we have to have issues here. Independence was an ongoing process, the three relevant pieces of legislation are listed in the infobox and nobody has had a problem with that in nearly seven years. I don't see any need for change. --AussieLegend () 17:28, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
These issue is that info-boxes are supposed to summarize key information, such as when Australia came into existence, rather than explain the nuances of its constitutional evolution and the debates about the significance of the various changes. TFD (talk) 18:32, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
The infobox doesn't explain anything as it stands. It does simply summarise independence by listing the 3 key pieces of legislation related to independence. You can't eliminate any one of the 3 because they are all essential. Calling it anything other than independence is, at best, confusing to readers. Federation was just the beginning of independence. "Establishment" is indeed vague. --AussieLegend () 19:29, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
The infobox is supposed to summarize key information. The Statute of Westminster is not key because per the Balfour Declaration 1926, the UK could not amend Australia's laws without permission. The Act says, "it is in accord with the established constitutional position that no law hereafter made by the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall extend to any of the said Dominions as part of the law of that Dominion otherwise than at the request and with the consent of that Dominion." 1986 is not a key date either because the UK did not even have persuasive influence over Australia any more. Why are any of these more important than when Australia assumed responsibility for its own affairs, was recognized by the League of Nations or the UN, or the Balfour Declaration, or obtaining an Australian governor-general or the attaining of responsible government before federation? TFD (talk) 19:41, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
The Balfour Declaration didn't have any legal effect until the Statute of Westminster was adopted. In fact, the Balfour Declaration itself has no authority at all as it is not legislation. It was necessary to incorporate the Balfour Declaration in the Statute of Westminster before it could be given any authority, and this didn't happen until 1931. However, the Statute of Westminster had to be adopted individually by each country and Australia didn't do that until 1942. The effect was backdated to the beginning of WWII so that legislation passed by Australia during the war had legal effect. The Australia Act eliminated the remaining possibilities for the UK to legislate with effect in Australia, for the UK to be involved in Australian government, and for an appeal from any Australian court to a British court. So yes, both are critical. Have you read the articles on these acts and the attached references? --AussieLegend () 19:58, 14 February 2017 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The Balfour Declaration 1926 says, "There is, however, one most important element in it which, from a strictly constitutional point of view, has now, as regards all vital matters, reached its full development—we refer to the group of selfgoverning communities composed of Great Britain and the Dominions. Their position and mutual relation may be readily defined. They are autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of would not be in accordance with constitutional practice for advice to be tendered to His Majesty by His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain in any matter appertaining to the affairs of a Dominion against the views of the Government of that Dominion." I other words, were the Queen to decide to disallow legislation or approve imperial legislation regarding Australia, it would be on the advice on the prime minister of Australia. Ironically, the Queen or her Governor-General retains the power to disallow legislation or even to sack the prime minister. But the Queen does not act on the advice of her UK ministers in doing that, any more than she relies on her Canadian or NZ ministers on issues relating to Australia, and has not done so since long before the Balfour Declaration. TFD (talk) 20:31, 14 February 2017 (UTC)

A significant moment in Imperial history. Just a minor quibble: Commonwealth legislation has never been disallowed. The Governor-General may refuse assent, but that power comes from s58, rather than s59. The Governor-General may dismiss the Prime Minister under s64, but the Queen has no similar power. --Pete (talk) 22:40, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
I know there is a debate about whether the Queen could fire the PM. Let's agree to disagree. She can fire the GG and replace him or her with someone who will fire the PM. By convention, she cannot do that because she acts under the instruction of the prime minister of Australia. But that's my point. Conventions are never broken and the one against disallowance goes back as far as the 1840s in the case of Upper Canada and applies to colonies that have governments responsible to the legislature. The Australian constitution does not even mention the office of prime minister or the cabinet and says that executive power is vested in the Queen and exercised by the GG, advised by the Federal Executive Council. Unless you are aware of convention, that is extremely misleading.
It's doubly misleading because "executive power" as generally perceived and "the executive power" as mentioned in s61 are two different concepts: "The executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen and is exercisable by the Governor-General as the Queen's representative, and extends to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution, and of the laws of the Commonwealth." It doesn't mean that Queen owns all power and only the Governor-General can exercise it in her name. In fact both Queen and Governor-General have powers specific to their office which may not be exercised by the other. "The executive power" itself is rather limited.[4] --Pete (talk) 23:53, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
The executive power is the same as in any country: government powers are executive, legislative and judicial. Bu convention the executive of Australia the cabinet lead by the PM. The constitution says it is the Queen, represented by the GG, advised by the council. Don't tell me that the government of Australia's power is rather limited. It is no more limited than the government of the UK or the U.S. TFD (talk) 02:07, 15 February 2017 (UTC)
Executive power as a general concept is one thing. The specific executive power defined in s61 and from time to time interpreted by the High Court is something different. It is not the general power of government to do things, as one might expect. The parliamentary paper above gives a better description than I can. --Pete (talk) 02:15, 15 February 2017 (UTC)
You might mention where in the paper it says that. The paper says, "The Constitution - Three Arms of Government...The legislative, executive, and judicial powers are separately stated in the Constitution, in Chapters I, II and III respectively." If you don't think the PM and cabinet are part of the executive and make all key executive decisions, then what are they? TFD (talk) 02:50, 15 February 2017 (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at. Nobody disputes that there are three arms of government, one of which is the executive. Nor that Cabinet forms the executive government, of which the PM is head. The executive has considerable power. This is not the same as the executive power defined in s61, which is exercisable by the Governor-General (and delegated as appropriate), although there is considerable overlap. Executive power does not include all official power exercised within Australia. If we read on from your quote above, we immediately encounter the following:

In his discussion of the Commonwealth Executive, Professor Michael Crommelin states that 'unlike Chapter I of the Constitution, Chapter II was intended to mask rather than prescribe the workings of the executive'. One of the reasons for the uncertain scope of the executive power is the desire of the Constitution's framers to retain a deal of flexibility.(24) Another is the 'uncertain scope and status of the prerogative' which forms part of the executive power and includes the Crown's common law powers such as the right to declare war and to enter into treaty agreements.

You seem to think that the executive power is something concrete, namely the sum total of the powers of Cabinet, as led by the PM. Are you saying that the Governor-General, by virtue of his exercise of the executive power, is the true head of government? --Pete (talk) 03:26, 15 February 2017 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────No, I am saying that according to the written constitution, the governor-general (or the Queen according to some) is the head of government. However, by convention which is not written into the constitution there is a prime minister and cabinet who make all executive decisions and carry out all executive actions. The concept of the three functions of government, including the executive, are well-established. Are you seriously arguing that the governor-general decides the budget or whether Australia goes to war? There is a Wikipedia article, Executive (government) which describes the concept as I understand it. Do you think that it means something else? TFD (talk) 04:25, 15 February 2017 (UTC)

The constitution does not specify the term head of government, but most sources describe the Prime Minister as holding that position. This is also my view. I reject your assertion that the Governor-General decides the budget or anything of that nature. He or she signs the document into law according to s58, but that's not a use of the executive power. Looking at Executive (government), that's my understanding of the situation too. I think you are missing my point; you seem to be confusing the general concept of "executive power" as exercised by Cabinet, with the specific power laid down in the Constitution. --Pete (talk) 05:47, 15 February 2017 (UTC)
Pete's distinction is correct (and I have made it hereabouts before). I'm sorry, TFD, but please consult one of the current textbooks on Australian constitutional law: the biggest and best of them are Winterton/Gerangelos and Blackshield & Williams. Wikiain (talk) 07:12, 15 February 2017 (UTC)
Ironically, the Queen or her Governor-General retains the power to disallow legislation or even to sack the prime minister. - What relevance is this to anything here? We were talking about the significance of legislation, which the Balfour Declaration is not, not whether the Queen can sack the PM. This seems to be a monumental tangent. --AussieLegend () 07:19, 15 February 2017 (UTC)
Tangent indeed. Whether the monarch/G-G can sack the PM is irrelevant to the question of independence as she is the Queen of Australia distinct from her role in any other country. Indeed in Parliamentary republics, the ceremonial President (equivalent of queen/G-G) can sack the PM. It's not relevant to independence. Anyhow, I agree with TFD's position as he has outlined it and to leave it at establishment - 1901. I am also perfectly happy to leave it as it is now.--Saruman-the-white (talk) 09:23, 15 February 2017 (UTC)
Establishment is far too vague a term for us to present to our readers. Establishment could easily be taken to be 1788, because that's when the country was originally established. Looking at the above, I see TDF arguing against establishement in favour of federation. --AussieLegend () 09:33, 15 February 2017 (UTC)
On second thought I would be equally happy with federation only, keeping it as it is, or keeping it as it is but replacing 'independence' with 'constitutional history' which would allow us to put the full variety of events in--Saruman-the-white (talk) 10:46, 15 February 2017 (UTC)
1788 is not really a significant date for the Commonwealth of Australia, subject of this article. That is 1901 whether we call it Federation or Establishment. 1788 means about as much as 1829 (Western Australia has never overlapped with New South Wales). If 1788 were to be listed, it would be as "First permanent white settlement". A number of non-government organisations had federated or otherwise spanned the colonial borders before 1901, but that kind of thing continues today (we have "multinational companies" in many fields) and some of the 19th century federations included New Zealand or other southern hemisphere colonies. --Scott Davis Talk 12:22, 15 February 2017 (UTC)
1788 is not really a significant date for the Commonwealth of Australia - That's completely irrelevant to our readers. Independence starting in 1901 is understandable. The average reader knows Australia (the article title) was here before then, so "established 1901" is just confusing. Australia (regardless of its legal name at the time) was established in 1788. --AussieLegend () 03:49, 16 February 2017 (UTC)
Australia (regardless of its legal name at the time) was established in 1788. – There's more than a few people who think it was "established" long before then. The "history of Australia. Mitch Ames (talk) 12:53, 16 February 2017 (UTC)
There was continuity from earlier states, and of course the territory existed long before. That's why I recommend a precise term ("federation") instead of establishment. TFD (talk) 14:00, 16 February 2017 (UTC)

I will summarize my point briefly. There is the written constitution and there is convention. In the written constitution, the executive branch of government is the monarch or governor-general advised by the executive council. By convention, the prime minister and cabinet form the government, although they are not mentioned in the written constitution. Similarly by convention Westminster did not legislate for Australia against its request and the Queen did not disallow legislation. The effect of the acts of 1931 and 1986 was to codify those conventions into written legislation. While the article should explain all this, the key dates that should be mentioned in the info-box is when the practice changed.

Wikiain, I have consulted a current textbook on Austalian constitutional law. (The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia By Nicholas Aroney, Peter Gerangelos, James Stellios, Sarah Murray) It says exactly what I did: "The actual exercise of the executvie power at both Commonwealth and State levels is undertaken by Ministers of State who are responsible to Parliament....In political terms, it is the Prime Minister and Cabinet which directly exercises, and directs the exercise of, the executive power of the Commonwealth. However, the Cabinet is not mentioned in the Constitution. In the formal legal sense, executive power is wielded by the Governor-General advised by the Federal Executive council." (p. 402)[5] "There is no mention of 'the Cabinet' or 'the Prime Minister' in the Constitution." (p. 405) "The conventions supporting the Cabinet system appear to be deeply entrenched, both in Great Britain and Australia...." (p.405, quoting HE Renfree.) If you have different information, then please provide a reference.

TFD (talk) 14:03, 15 February 2017 (UTC)

What does executive power have to do with the date of independence? --AussieLegend () 03:49, 16 February 2017 (UTC)
Executive power is an example of the discrepancy between what the written constitution says and convention. It was an example I thought everyone would understand but apparently not. (Hence the lengthy discussion.) It is misleading to use the date of a change in the written constitution to date independence just as it is to use the written constitution to explain how the executive works. While some argue that independence dates from the Statue of Westminster when said the UK Parliament would no longer legislate for Australia without their permission, this had already been established by convention hence does not belong in the info-box. TFD (talk) 04:10, 16 February 2017 (UTC)
So, let's get this straight. The executive power of Section 61 of the Constitution isn't what the High Court and constitutional scholars say it is. Rather it's what you say it is? --Pete (talk) 04:45, 16 February 2017 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I feel you are clutching at straws here. Executive power has nothing to do with the dates of independence.
It is misleading to use the date of a change in the written constitution to date independence - Nobody is doing that.
While some argue that independence dates from the Statue of Westminster when said the UK Parliament would no longer legislate for Australia without their permission - Again, nobody is doing that. The date of the Statute of Westminster Act has nothing to do with Australian independence because that UK Act had no effect until it was adopted in Australia by the passing of the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act eleven years later.
this had already been established by convention hence does not belong in the info-box. - I'm not sure what convention you're talking about, but you are correct, it doesn't belong in the infobox, and it isn't anyway. --AussieLegend () 04:54, 16 February 2017 (UTC)
No the executive power isn't what I say it is, it is what the constitutional scholars I cited say it is. If you think a high court decision contradicts that, kindly state what it is and where it is in disagreement. Incidentally, the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942 adopted the Statute of Westminster 1931 as of 1939. But why do any of these dates belong in the info-box? "Convention" means an informal and uncodified procedural agreement that is followed by the institutions of a state. All the provisions of the 1931 and 1942 act had long been adopted by convention. TFD (talk) 05:10, 16 February 2017 (UTC)
Make up your mind. In discussion above, you seem to think it a lot more broad and more general than it really is. --Pete (talk) 05:13, 16 February 2017 (UTC)
My position has been consistent. Only one date should be in the lead, 1901. I have explained my reasons to you in detail and if you cannot follow my reasoning, then I do not think that further explanation will make any difference. TFD (talk) 05:44, 16 February 2017 (UTC)
I think you are wrong in your understanding of the executive power, but this is not the place for a lengthy discussion. On what should be in the infobox, I disagree. "Establishment" is just going to be confusing. "Federation" is a precise date, "Statute of Westminster" is a vital step, and "Australia Act" pretty much sealing the deal. Readers can go to our articles on each one of those acts for more information, rather than havin to work out what "Establishment" might mean. Clearly not full independence. --Pete (talk) 16:50, 16 February 2017 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────That is 5 dates. (Westminster is 3 dates: the UK law, its adoption by Australia and the retroactive adoption date.) You left out the Balfour Declaration when the UK government publicly acknowledged it could not legislate for Australia against its will or veto legislation. What about 1919 when Australia was first recognized by other nations, which is one definition? Or when it first established a citizenship act? (Another element of sovereignty according to the Montevideo convention.) Or when the UK established citizenship excluding Australians? Or when it changed British subjects to Commonwealth citizens, or later, when it decided Australians could no longer register as British citizens? What about when it accepted that the governor-general would be Australian, or when it was decided that the UK was a "foreign" country. What about what's left: an Australian republic, the exchange of ambassadors not high commissioners, the abolition of Commonwealth citizenship? TFD (talk) 13:56, 17 February 2017 (UTC)

"Convention" means an informal and uncodified procedural agreement that is followed by the institutions of a state. - Conventions are informal processes. Independence is a formal process.
Westminster is 3 dates: the UK law, its adoption by Australia and the retroactive adoption date.) - The date that Westminster was adopted in the UK is irrelevant to Australia's formal adoption.
You left out the Balfour Declaration - As I've already explained, the Balfour Declaration itself is irrelevant. The Westminster Adoption Act is the important document here. It ratified the Statute of Westminster which contained the Balfour Declaration.
Or when the UK established citizenship excluding Australians? - Didn't happen in Australia, so it's irrelevant. --AussieLegend () 17:42, 17 February 2017 (UTC)
It is relevant because because nationality creates rights and obligations. Until British citizenship was established, people born in Australia had the same rights and obligations to the UK as persons in the UK. As pointed out in Sue v Hill, "Australia and the United Kingdom have their own laws as to nationality so that their citizens owe different allegiances." That is part of what makes Australia "independent" from the UK. Incidentally, Australians allegiance to the UK was valid law in Australia. TFD (talk) 00:44, 18 February 2017 (UTC)
It's not relevant to the issue of national independence of Australia. The laws of the UK don't apply here. That's why the Statute of Westminster had to be ratified here by the passing of the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act, even though the Statute of Westminster had been passed in the UK in 1931. --AussieLegend () 04:19, 18 February 2017 (UTC)
It's only an infobox. Clearly, full independence took most of last century to achieve, and it's more than one date and less than twenty. Why not wikilink to articles on Federation, Statute of Westminster, and Australia Act or similar? Possibly the League of Nations thing. Or have one article on Australian independence - and it's a topic that clerly interests a few of us here - and link to sections in that article? --Pete (talk) 18:15, 17 February 2017 (UTC)
Independence is a formal process. Says who? And there was no formal process that said the Queen cannot act on the advice of her UK ministers or withhold assent from Australian bills. Malcolm Turnbull said, “by mid-1950s, Australia was certainly an independent nation.” And he's the Prime Minister and a noted constitutional expert. And would you say the Prime Minster's and cabinet positions are "informal," because they exist by convention? TFD (talk) 19:17, 17 February 2017 (UTC)
I think that citizenship is relevant to independence, although not in the way that has been suggested. Rather, in reaction to the restriction of British nationality in 1948, Australia established its own citizenship: the status of Australian Citizen was created in 1949 by the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 (Cth)—retitled the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 in 1973 and then replaced by the Australian Citizenship Act 2007. Wikiain (talk) 02:58, 18 February 2017 (UTC)
Independent countries have their own citizens, see for example the Montevideo Convention. Note however that Canada was the first Commonwealth Realm to establish citizenship and it was seen as "local" in nature as opposed to based on allegiance. So the switch from British subject to Australian citizen was a long process which is not yet entirely complete. Commonwealth citizenship, which replaced the status of British subject, still places rights and responsibilities on Australian citizens, such as the right to vote in the UK. TFD (talk) 03:15, 18 February 2017 (UTC)
Commonwealth citizenship is a peripheral status enjoyed by citizens of all Commonwealth countries. It carries some rights but no responsibilities, and therefore has no connection with independence. Wikiain (talk) 05:10, 18 February 2017 (UTC)
Commonwealth citizenship is the name given in the 1981 Nationality Act to British subjects who were citizens of Commonwealth countries. Commonwealth citizens can be charged for treason in the UK even if the offense did not occur there or the person was part of an invading army (see Kanao Inouye) and also for murder (see R v Cheong 2005 on p. 39, footnote 68: "a reference to a "British Subject in an Act passed before 1 January 1983, has the same meaning as "Commonwealth citizen" under s. 37 of the 1981 Act.").[6] Note that as a Canadian citizen, Kenouye could not be convicted of war crimes by a British court, but could and was convicted of treason as a British subject. TFD (talk) 05:56, 18 February 2017 (UTC)
TFD: if you wish to make technical legal points, please use direct legal referencing. You might be right (and the article wrong) about Inouye, if there was no actual Canadian citizenship at the time of his treasonable acts. References in the British Nationality Act 1981, section 51, are only to earlier British legislation. And I cannot find the Cheong case that you refer to, even by using the original reference. Even so: against whom or what could a Commonwealth Citizen commit treason? Wikiain (talk) 13:11, 18 February 2017 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Sec 51 says, "in any enactment or instrument whatever passed or made before commencement “British subject” and “Commonwealth citizen” have the same meaning." In other words, the act does not change the status of British subjects to Commonwealth citizens, it changes the name. The Offences against the Person Act 1861 reads, "Where any murder or manslaughter shall be committed on land out of the United Kingdom...every offence committed by any subject of Her Majesty in respect of any such case, whether the same shall amount to the offence of murder or of manslaughter."[7] Treason is against the sovereign. See for example the Crimes Act 1900 of New South Wales, which is still in force: "Whosoever, within New South Wales or without, compasses, imagines, invents, devises, or intends to deprive or depose Our Most Gracious Lady the Queen, her heirs or successors, from the style, honour, or Royal name of the Imperial Crown of the United Kingdom, or of any other of Her Majesty’s dominions and countries, or to levy war against Her Majesty, her heirs or successors, within any part of the United Kingdom, or any other of Her Majesty’s dominions, in order, by force or constraint, to compel her or them to change her or their measures or counsels, or in order to put any force or constraint upon, or in order to intimidate or overawe, both Houses or either House of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, or the Parliament of New South Wales, or to move or stir any foreigner or stranger with force to invade the United Kingdom, or any other of Her Majesty’s dominions, or countries under the obeisance of Her Majesty, her heirs or successors, and expresses, utters, or declares such compassings, imaginations, inventions, devices, or intentions, or any of them, by publishing any printing or writing, or by open and advised speaking, or by any overt act or deed, shall be liable to imprisonment for 25 years."[8] The NSW legislation was adopted from UK legislation still in force.

Of course the fact that Australian citizens continue to owe allegiance to the Queen does not mean Australia is not independent, any more than it was not indpendant pre-1986 or pre-Statute of Westminster. As you say, they are "technical legal points."

TFD (talk) 16:27, 18 February 2017 (UTC)

BTW the article on Inouye says what I said: as a Canadian, not a British citizen, he could not be convicted of war crimes in a British court, but could be convicted of treason as a British subject. TFD (talk) 18:55, 18 February 2017 (UTC)

TFD: The Offences Against the Person Act speaks of the place where the action occurred; it does not assert jurisdiction over that place, thereby denying its independence. The Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) is an act of the Colony of NSW which, upon Federation in 1901, was adopted by the State of NSW. The British legislation quoted in the Crimes Act therefore has force in NSW as law of NSW. It might be seen today as an assertion of Australian independence, that this law criminalises attacking the British monarch and the British parliament, as well as invading the UK. Australian allegiance to the Queen is to the Queen of Australia: Singh v Commonwealth [2004] HCA 43.
The Inouye article seems unclear. When born in Canada, he would have been a British subject. He committed treason as a British subject, since at that time there was no category "British citizen" and Canadian citizenship had yet to be introduced. That he was tried as a British subject, however, is your implication (WP:OR). Let's leave Inouye alone. Wikiain (talk) 00:52, 19 February 2017 (UTC)
The Inouye case is not my OR but but what the article on him and the source I provided say.
Indeed neither the criminal or treason laws claim jurisdiction of territories ouside the realm in which they were enacted, but they claim that the citizens of those territories owe allegiance to the crown. You said above, "[Commonwealth citizenship] carries some rights but no responsibilities." That is false. It carries the responsiblity to obey the treason and murder laws of the UK, even when in Australia. By contrast, Americans owe no allegiance to the crown and therefore those laws do not apply to them unless they are in the UK, in which case they, like all aliens in amity, owe local allegiance. So if an Australian murders someone in Australia and visits the UK, they can be convicted of murder. But if an American murders someone in America and visits the UK, they cannot be convicted of murder. Technically, an Australian could probably be extradited to the UK for a murder committed in Australia.
Australian allegiance is both to the Queen of Australia and to the person who happens to be Queen of Australia. Allegiance to the person was established in Calvin's Case of 1607 and allegiance to the office was established by Isaacson v Durant (1886). Personal allegiance means allegiance to her in all her territories which is what the NSW treason law expects.
TFD (talk) 01:01, 19 February 2017 (UTC)
The article Kanao Inouye does not say in which capacity he was tried for treason. That he was tried as a British subject may be correct, but it is your inference.
A lot of water has passed under several bridges since Calvin's Case, which is discussed extensively in Singh. Blackshield & Williams, Australian Constitutional Law and Theory (6th edn 2014, p 983) says that the main judgment in Singh "may have reflected an underlying shift in High Court jurisprudence ... to a transpersonal conception of 'sovereignty'". Your emphasis on the person appears to entail that whatever counts as treason in any Commonwealth realm will count as treason in all of them, which would hark back to the now discredited doctrine of indivisibility of the Crown. I don't see the High Court of Australia upholding that. It could mean that, if one Commonwealth realm were to criminalise mockery of the monarch (as in Thailand), all of the Commonwealth realms would almost instantly be rocking with traitors. Wikiain (talk) 05:06, 19 February 2017 (UTC)
See Casual Slaughters: "This conviction [for treason] was also appealed, and the heart of Inouye's pleas was that he was not a British subject."[9] I understand the point that the Crown could proceed on the basis that he was a subject when the crime was committed but he was a subject when prosecuted and there had been no change in the wording of the treason laws to acknowledge the acquisition of separate citizenship in various Commonwealth nations and never has been since.
The Singh judgment says that Australia (like every other independent country) may make its own nationality laws and exclude non-citizens from the country. No one has ever questioned that. Nonetheless UK law retains certain rights and obligations for Commonwealth citizens, including the right to vote and some obligations under criminal and treason laws.
And no, I did not say that what is treason in one country is treason in them all. As far as I know only the UK and NSW word their treason laws in that manner.
Incidentally, Calvin's Case did not say the crown was indivisible and in fact distinguishes between the Crown of Scotland and the Crown of England.
TFD (talk) 08:12, 19 February 2017 (UTC)
In my understanding 'Commonwealth citizen' is a concept that only exists in UK law. In the UK, citizens of other Commonwealth countries are definied in their legislation as commonwealth citizens and have certain rights that other foreigners don't have (they have something similar for Irish and EU Citizens). No other commonwealth country recognises such a concept though. Australia, Canada, etc, don't let Brits or Malaysians vote or give them preferential treatment. This is not relevant to the question of independence. Indeed, many countries have arrangements giving preferential rights to citizens of certain other countries - and in any case - Australia doesn't do it. As far as I know we only give preferential treatment to NZers as part of a separate scheme. A cynic might say the British alone recognise this concept to make themselves feel like they are the head of an empire again--Saruman-the-white (talk) 10:38, 19 February 2017 (UTC)
To get back to the point of the discussion, saying that Australia only became independent in 1986 (or 1931) is misleading, because the formal changes made did not reflect the political and perhaps legal reality. TFD (talk) 13:56, 19 February 2017 (UTC)

Infobox at NPOVN[edit]

I have raised the issue of the what info to put into the "Foundation" field at WP:NPOVN#Info-box: "Establishment" of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. I suggest the process will be more likely to succeed if editors who have been involved in the discussions, including myself, limit their participation by presenting their positions and wait for uninvolved editors to comment before engaging in lengthy argument that would make it difficult for univolved editors to follow and comment. TFD (talk) 16:26, 20 February 2017 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 3 March 2017[edit]

Your Demographics adds up to 109.8% that does not make sense (100% is 100%) fix it please, you cant be both Australian and Irish right? Sieben1973 (talk) 23:39, 3 March 2017 (UTC)

No change to figures, but I have added that the census table is annotated: "As some people stated two ancestries, the total persons for all ancestries exceed Australia's total population." Wikiain (talk) 23:54, 3 March 2017 (UTC)


With 24.38 millin people, density per sq.Km is 3.1 now, not 2.8-- (talk) 19:56, 9 March 2017 (UTC)

An important point, but that seems to be WP:OR. You need a reliable source. Wikiain (talk) 03:02, 10 March 2017 (UTC)
WP:CALC allows us to do routine calculations, so I've updated the article with appropriate comments as to where the number came from. Mitch Ames (talk) 12:11, 11 March 2017 (UTC)
{{Data Australia}} was already being used to automatically update the estimated population so I have expanded its use to automatically calculate the population density when the population changes. This means we should not see this problem reoccur. --AussieLegend () 18:28, 11 March 2017 (UTC)
Thanks AussieLegend - I suspected that there might have been a way to automate the calculation, but I had no idea how to do it. Mitch Ames (talk) 00:47, 12 March 2017 (UTC)
Thanks too. I had no idea that it could be done. Wikiain (talk) 00:57, 12 March 2017 (UTC)