Committee's Reference and Introduction
1.1 The Committee was asked by the Senate on 8 December 1994 to inquire
into the Commonwealth's treaty making power and the external affairs power
and report by 24 August 1995. Extensions were sought, and the reporting
date was deferred to 30 November 1995.
1.2 The terms of reference are as follows:
The meaning and operation of section 51(xxix) of the Constitution with
particular reference to:
(a) the Commonwealth Parliament's function in ratifying international
treaties and conventions entered into by the Australian Government;
(b) the Commonwealth Parliament's role in ensuring that the management
of such treaties and conventions by the Executive is consistent with
the spirit and intent of the Constitution;
(c) the means by which the Commonwealth Parliament pursuant to section
51(xxix) of the Constitution should regulate the Federal Government's
power with respect to implementation of treaties and conventions which
have been entered into;
(d) the extent to which it is desirable to proscribe the Federal Government's
executive power to enter into such conventions and treaties; and
The Committee's inquiry
1.3 The Senate References Committee called for submissions from interested
persons by placement of advertisements in the major national newspapers
on 15 December 1994 and by letters to particular persons and organisations
known to have an interest in the relevant issues.
1.4 The Committee received 157 submissions in relation to its inquiry.
(See Appendix 1).
1.5 The Committee also took evidence at public hearings in the following
cities on the dates shown:
Canberra 01 May 1995
Melbourne 02 May 1995
Perth 15 May 1995
Sydney 16 May 1995
Hobart 22 May 1995
Brisbane 13 June 1995
Canberra 14 June 1995
Adelaide 25 July 1995
1.6 Further information about those who gave evidence to the Committee
at these hearings is included in this Report as Appendix 2.
States and states
1.7 At international law, countries are referred to as 'states'. To avoid
confusion with the Australian States, which are a constituent part of
the Australian federation, nation states are referred to either as 'countries'
or 'states' and the Australian States are referred to as 'States'.
1.8 Section 61 of the Constitution confers the executive power of the
Commonwealth on the Queen, as represented by the Governor-General. Section
62 of the Constitution states that the Governor-General is to be advised
by the 'Federal Executive Council'. Section 64 of the Constitution provides
that Members of the Federal Executive Council shall be the Queen's Ministers
of State for the Commonwealth. Hence, the term 'Executive', as used in
this Report, means the Governor-General, acting on the advice of the relevant
1.9 In Australia there are parliaments of the States as well as the Commonwealth
Parliament. References to 'the Parliament' in this Report refer to the
Commonwealth Parliament. In order to distinguish references to the State
parliaments from references to the Commonwealth Parliament, the parliaments
of the States are referred to specifically as follows, the New South Wales
Parliament, the Victorian Parliament, the Queensland Parliament, the Western
Australian Parliament, the South Australian Parliament and the Tasmanian
Parliament. The assemblies of the Territories are referred to as the Northern
Territory Assembly and the Australian Capital Territory Assembly.
- Journals of the Senate, No. 133, 8 December 1994.
- Journals of the Senate, No. 188, 25 September 1995; Journals
of the Senate, No. 194, 18 October 1995; Journals of the Senate,
No. 201, 14 November 1995 and Journals of the Senate, No. 205,
21 November 1995