September 1

Queensland- Significant Constitutional Change Planned?

Why is the Queensland Constitution to be amended?

The Constitution was consolidated and modernised quite recently in the Constitution of Queensland Act, 2001.

(However certain sections of earlier constitutional legislation going back to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were not brought into the 2001 Act and remain in force. These are mainly about the requirement for the approval of the Queensland people in a referendum to the abolition of the office of the Governor, and the reinstitution of the Legislative Council.)

On 25 August, 2005, the Premier introduced the Constitution and Other Legislation Amendment Bill, 2005.

A key change seems to be to section 34. This section currently provides:

“34 Power of Governor–Ministers

Ministers hold office at the pleasure of the Governor who, in the exercise of the Governor’s power to appoint and dismiss the Ministers, is not subject to direction by any person and is not limited as to the Governor’s sources of advice.”

If the amendment were adopted, the section would read:

“34 Power of Governor-Ministers

Ministers hold office at the pleasure of the Governor who, in the exercise of the Governor’s power to appoint and dismiss the Ministers, must, in accordance with constitutional conventions, act on the advice of the Premier.”

The crucial question is is this.

Is this a mere consolidation of the existing constitutional practice?

Or would it deny the reserve power which, for example, the then Governor, Sir Walter Campbell, relied on to reject the advice of Sir Joh Bjelke- Petersen to dismiss most of the cabinet and remain Premier?

Other changes are proposed, which do not seem to raise such problems.

One is a new section, section 33A. This will provide:

"33A Power of Governor—Information

The Governor may ask the Premier or another Minister for Information on any particular matter about the Government of the State that is relevant to the performance or exercise of the Governor’s functions or powers."

Because of our concerns about the proposed amendment to section 34, ACM is writing to both the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition.

We shall keep our visitors and subscribers informed.

Until next time,

David Flint


Tags

Constitution, Governor, queensland


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