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Tuesday, 20 September 1983
Page: 1037

Question No. 131

Mr Jacobi asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 12 May 1983:

(1) Can the Attorney-General say what progress has been made towards the implementation of decisions taken at the Premiers Conference in June 1982 regarding the abolition of the residual constitutional links with the United Kingdom.

(2) Do those decisions entail (a) a formal Act on the part of the United Kingdom Parliament and Government, renouncing sovereignty over Australian affairs, (b) termination of the application of section 4 of the Statute of Westminster 1931 under which United Kingdom legislation can still operate in Australia if the legislation merely declares that the Commonwealth Parliament and Government request and consent to the operation of the legislation in Australia, and (c) putting beyond doubt the legal power to amend the covering clauses of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 under the amendment procedure contained in section 128 of the Constitution.

(3) Has the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General completed the instructions to prepare the draft legislation necessary to implement the decisions taken at the 1982 Premiers Conference on this matter.

(4) Are there any outstanding areas of disagreement which are delaying the implementation of those decisions.

(5) Can the Attorney-General say why the then Prime Minister and Premiers found it necessary to retain, for the time being, the present system under which State recommendations on the appointment of State Governors are sent to the Queen through British Ministers.

(6) Does the Commonwealth Government remain opposed to the proposals put forward by the Premiers, namely, that the State Governments should be able to tender advice directly to the Queen on the appointment of State Governors and the granting of British honours.

(7) Can the Attorney-General say if the Queen is opposed to the proposals referred to in part 6.

(8) When does the Commonwealth Government (a) anticipate being able to reach final agreement with the Queen, the Government of the United Kingdom and the State Governments, on the way in which the residual constitutional links with the United Kingdom should be abolished and (b) envisage that the residual constitutional links with the United Kingdom will finally be abolished.

Mr Lionel Bowen —The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) Considerable progress has been made towards settling draft legislation and discussions are continuing with a view to resolving the few outstanding issues as quickly as possible.

(2) (a) Yes, (b) Yes, (c) The legislation will not amend or clarify section 128 itself, but it will provide for certain procedures that will clearly enable the covering clauses to be amended.

(3) No.

(4) (5) and (6) The Commonwealth and State Governments have not yet reached agreement on the procedures to be substituted for the present procedures concerning the tendering of advice to the Queen on the appointments of State Governors and the granting of honours pursuant to State recommendations.

(7) It would not be appropriate for me to state whether the Queen does or does not oppose the proposals referred to.

(8) (a) Not before 1984, (b) In 1984.