The Way Forward

Australia's Colonies signed up to the Commonwealth of Australia Act 1900, becoming States on 1 January, 1901. After a campaign led, amongst others, by legendary Aboriginal activist Oodgeroo Noonuccal, culminating in a referendum in 1967 which achieved overwhelming support, Aborigines came under the auspices of the Constitution of Australia. Subsequently, the Australia Act 1986 (Cth) severed all ties with the Westminster Parliament and the Queen in her capacity as the British Monarch, but not as the Australian Monarch. Unless Aborigines have superior force of arms, which is not the traditional way anyway, negotiations with the Crown to reconcile Aboriginal Sovereignty with the governance of the nation will occur appropriately under the terms of the Australian Constitution.

First up is the requirement for a women's jurisdiction consistent with Aboriginal protocol. The international Courts are of no assistance because international law doesn't recognise a women's jurisdiction. The Constitution will need to be reformed to provide for a women's legislature to enable a women's jurisdiction, a simple task since there's hardly anyone left in Australia who doesn't support equality between women and men, such that a referendum on the provision of a women's legislature, embedded in governance conducted by agreement between women's and men's legislatures, presided over by a Council of Governors-General, accompanied by Courts of women's and men's jurisdiction, in the Aboriginal tradition, would receive overwhelming support if conducted this weekend. The Queen can use her reserve power to reject a Referendum Bill on the provision of a women's legislature, but to do so would invoke the ghost of Magna Carta and incite major political turmoil and a severe backlash against her reign. Alternatively, she can accept the extraordinary legacy of passing her sovereignty to senior citizens presiding over the first women's legislature of the modern era, which, in all probability, would be her preferred approach. Global recognition of a women's jurisdiction will occur once Australia takes the lead, consistent with the depth and extent of the Aboriginal tradition.

With a women's jurisdiction alongside the men's a genuine Treaty can be negotiated, the piece of paper often sought, after which all Australians can move forward together and lead the world in governance of global peace and sustainable prosperity in perpetuity. I know this because I've been working on it since the Black Power days of the 1970s when I used to stand outside the Builders Arms Hotel and look down Gertrude Street, Fitzroy at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne, which hosted the opening of the first Parliament of Australia in 1901, and considered the options. The way forward is perfectly clear and relatively free from obstruction.

* In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, do you agree to an amendment to the Constitution to enable equal rights between women and men?

1. The Constitution of Australia is a foundation legal document.

2. In order to preserve the integrity of law, recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution must accommodate recognition of customary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander foundation law, where such law can be found to exist.

3. Justice John von Doussain in the Federal Court recognised customary foundation law with the view he was "not satisfied on the evidence before this Court that the applicants have established on the balance of probabilities that restricted women's knowledge as revealed to Dr Fergie and Professor Saunders was not part of genuine Aboriginal tradition". [Chapman v Luminis Pty Ltd (No 5) (21 August 2001):400]

4. Customary foundation law enables governance by agreement between women's and men's legislative assemblies.

5. Recognition of customary foundation law in the Constitution rebadges the Senate a women's legislature with members elected by women and the House of Representatives a men's legislature with members elected by men, each with the same powers to initiate, review, amend, accept or reject legislation enacted with passage through both.

6. A Cabinet of an equal number of women, appointed by a majority of the women's legislature, and men, appointed by a majority of the men's legislature, reconciles the business of the Parliament and provides leadership.

7. With Royal assent, sovereignty transfers from the Crown to a Council of Governors-General comprising an equal number of senior women and men appointed by the Cabinet.

8. The Courts recognise women's and men's jurisdictions.

9. Customary foundation law and equal rights between women and men are one and the same.

10. A referendum question on equal rights between women and men in recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples would receive overwhelming support since equal rights between women and men at law has received overwhelming support, other than foundation law where the opportunity has yet arisen, since the Constitution was enacted.

philip mckeon

406/43 morehead street redfern eora
sydney australia 2016
mob: +61 0404 254 328