Community Law Resource Group

The Constitution Act (1900)

Clause 4,  is now being discussed in meetings for the month of June.

Do not hesitate to download a copy from the link below:

COVERING CLAUSE 4

The contents are as follows:

Constitution Act 1900.

Covering Clause 4

Commencement of Act.

The Commonwealth shall be established, and the Constitution of the Commonwealth shall take effect, on and after the day so appointed. But the Parliaments of the several colonies may at anytime after the passing of this Act make any such laws, to come into operation on the day so appointed, as they might have made if the Constitution had taken effect at the passing of this Act.

Some words from CLRA.

The above words “But the Parliaments of the several colonies may at any time after the passing of this Act make any such laws, to come into operation on the day so appointed, as they might have made if the Constitution had taken effect at the passing of this Act”, allowed the Colonies/States taking part in Federation to continue to make Laws but only those Laws that they could make after Federation (Reserved and Concurrent powers).

The Annotated Constitution written by Quick and Garran make the following comments;

HISTORICAL NOTE.—Clause 4 of the Commonwealth Bill of 1891 (which became the Constitution Act 1900) was as follows:—

Unless where it is otherwise expressed or implied, this Act shall commence and have effect on and from the day so appointed in the Queen’s proclamation; and the name ‘The Commonwealth of Australia’ or ‘The Commonwealth’ shall be taken to mean the Commonwealth of Australia as constituted under this Act.

This clause, with the omission of the second word “where,” was adopted at the Adelaide Session,1897. At the Sydney Session, following the suggestions of the Legislatures of New South Wales and Tasmania, the words “unless it is otherwise expressed orimplied, this Act” were omitted, and the words “The Constitution of the Commonwealth” were substituted.

A provision was then added that “The Parliaments of the several colonies may at any time after the passing of this Act make any such laws, to come into operation on the day so appointed, as they might have made if the Constitution had been established at the passing of this Act.”

Some words from CLRA.

The words “of the Commonwealth Bill” point out the influence that Australia had in the creation of the Constitution Act, an act of the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament.

Now back to Covering Clause 4 and the Annotated Constitution written by Quick and Garran make the following commentsPage 343 to 345.

Shall be Established.

Clause 3 says that the people of the Commonwealth shall be united on and after the day appointed in the Queen’s Proclamation. Clause 4 contains a detailed list and expansion of the legal results of the Union so accomplished. The first immediate result is that the Commonwealth is established.

Some words from CLRA.

The word Union refers to the unification of the colonies into becoming firstly States and then the Commonwealth of Australia.

Now back to Covering Clause 4 and the Annotated Constitution written by Quick and Garran make the following commentsPage 343 to 345.

The constitutional definition of the Commonwealth will be analysed later on. Meanwhile, attention may be drawn to the significance of the word “Established.” The same verb is used in the preamble to the constitution of the United States, where it is recited that in order to form a more perfectunion the people “do ordain and establish this Constitution.

Parliament authorising the creation of colonies, the words “erect” and “establish” are used as identical terms. The Act 9 Geo. IV. (1828) (the Australian Courts Act of 1828), provided that it should be lawful for the King by charters or letters patent under the Great Seal to “erectand establish” courts of judicature in New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land.

Some words from CLRA.

In 1828, all of the area now known as the mainland of Australia was then called New South Wales and the area now known as Tasmania was then called Van Diemen’s Land.

Now back to Covering Clause 4 and the Annotated Constitution written by Quick and Garran make the following commentsPage 343 to 345.