Royal Succession: Queensland passes

I missed this, but the Parliament of Queensland passed the Succession to the Crown Bill 2013 on the 2nd of May. It was taken from 2nd reading through consideration in detail to Third Reading in an hour and forty minutes, ten of which were spent debating ten amendments to the bill – all government, and all without a vote or much discussion – and third reading had no debate. Looking at some of the previous Hansards, it doesn’t seem unusual to take a bill’s second reading, consideration in detail stage (equivalent to committee in the UK and Canadian Parliaments) and third readings on the same day. In the UK parliament, that would be considered a fast-tracked procedure. I suppose at least there was a committee review. Here’s the finished bill which received Royal Assent today.

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6 Responses to Royal Succession: Queensland passes

  1. Alan says:

    The federal government and the other states are furious. The agreement was that the states would request and consent to federal legislation. It’s not at all clear that the Queensland parliament is competent to pass this legislation on its own.

    • pp549 says:

      I saw the news about this, and the language coming out of both sides was positively poisonous. The two Attorneys-General Dreyfus and Bleijie presumably don’t get on…

      I thought the final COAG agreement was that any state, so long as they also request the Commonwealth enact equivalent laws under s51(38), could pass their own laws on Royal Succession?

      I could well be misunderstanding this, but isn’t any request under s51(38) essentially a very limited delegation of state power to the Commonwealth?

      • Alan says:

        it’s not clear that Queensland intends to refer power in terms of Placitum 38. It’s also not necessarily the case that the Queensland parliament can deal with the royal succession on its own. In the 1970s Queensland attempted to have the Queen declared Queen of Queensland and that was rejected by the High Court, to the great relief of the British government and the palace itself. The states can refer matters to the federal parliament under that section, but they cannot pass their own laws on referable matters unless they have legislative competence in that area. Queensland has a long history of claiming to be able to pass legislation by virtue of its status as a sovereign sic state and having those claims rejected by the courts.

        The Australia Acts 1986 were passed under Placitum 38 but it is absolutely clear that a state parliament, acting alone, would not have had the legislative competence to enact laws in the same terms. The issue was addressed by the High Court in Commonwealth v Queensland [1975] HCA 43; (1975) 134 CLR 298.

        If Queensland does not refer, the succession to the crown may be different in that state from the rest of the states and the territories.

      • pp549 says:

        Ah, I see it’s more complex than I thought. Didn’t realise the courts had gotten involved. Also, so how does a request work? I assumed it was enough to legislate with a request in the legislation which it looks like the final bill has to my eye, but maybe there’s more to it.

        Would the courts declare the whole law, request and internal rules, void or just parts of it?

        Thanks for putting up with my amateur questions, the Australian constitution is new to me!

  2. Alan says:

    The problem with the Queensland act is the material outside Part V, which would almost certainly be held invalid by the High Court. While a number of attorneys-general have condemned the Queensland act they haven’t specified what the problem with Part V is. It’s not an ALP thing because opposition states have been equally denunciatory.

    Once the courts find part of an act invalid there are a series of tests to determine if the whole law is then invalid. The courts have been very conservative in trying to preserve what they can, much more so, for instance, than US courts.

    Placitum 38 is, to quote one analyst,’enigmatic’. It’s by no means clear if the states can revoke a referral, condition a referral, or if a Placitum 38 law applies or does not apply in a revoking state. The weirdest problem is that in theory the constitution itself can be amended, without referendum, if all states refer power to do so. I can’t see that happening easily or the courts being very friendly to the attempt, but the possibility is there.

    Placitum 38 also skews our politics away from the constitutional allocation of legislative competencies towards endless federal-state bargaining over who does what.

    • pp549 says:

      I’m going to have to get ahold of that Queen of Queensland judgment, it all sounds quite interesting. Very complex though, especially when you point out quite how flexible that section may or may not be!

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