Australian Autonomy #OnThisDay

On 9th of October 1942, the Australian Parliament voted for its autonomy, within the Commonwealth with the passing of The Statute of Westminster Adoption Act.

The British Parliament could no longer legislate for the Commonwealth without the express request and consent of the Australian Parliament.

The act received Royal Assent on 9 October 1942, but the adoption of the Statute was made retroactive to 3 September 1939, when Australia entered World War II. Wikipedia

With this document Australia adopted an Act of the British Parliament which set out as law the independence of the governments of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Eire and Newfoundland. These had become self-governing Dominions of Britain, rather than colonies, but what this meant constitutionally had never been made clear.

Britain’s Statute of Westminster, an Act of Parliament passed in December 1931, was the legal recognition of the evolved independence of the Dominions within the British Commonwealth. It defined the equal status of the Dominion Parliaments with the British Parliament, and established that the Dominions were under the authority of the Crown, and not the government, of Britain.

In adopting provisions of the Statute, Australia ratified the free and equal status of its government in relation to the government of Britain. One effect was to remove the necessity of reserving certain Bills for the assent of the sovereign. Ten Bills, most related to shipping and navigation, had been reserved since 1901; nine had received the Royal Assent.

This document was thus another step in a process of constitutional separation following those taken with the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and the Balfour Declaration in 1926. The next step was the Australia Act in 1986.

Documenting Democracy

This major piece of constitutional legislation was passed during the Second World War.

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  1. “ This major piece of constitutional legislation was passed during the Second World War.”

    By Scotland can’t have even a referendum because of war in Ukraine or Covid?

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