Constitution should guarantee participation

Of the 44 referendum proposals to amend the Australian Constitution put to popular vote over the past century only eight have succeeded says George Williams, Professor of Law at the University of NSW.

"The result is that the constitution remains in almost exactly the same form as when it was enacted in 1901."

By contrast, "more than 56 percent of the member states of the United Nations made major changes to their constitutions between 1989 and 1999", of which "more than seventy per cent adopted a completely new constitution".

Professor Williams explains that "Australia's constitution makes sense only when it is read against the assumptions and conventions Australia inherited from the Westminster system of government in Britain".

Although absent from Professor Williams' analysis, the principal assumption was that half the population, women, were incapable of making a rational contribution to government.

This assumption prohibited their participation.

The Parliament legislated against this doctrine in its second year, giving women the opportunity to gain experience in government.

An amended, or new Constitution providing for women's and men's legislatures presided over by an executive of elders accompanied by courts of women's and men's jurisdiction, would guarantee women participation in perpetuity as well as involvement in their own right unsupervised by men.

4 April, 2008