Courts - Australia - Australian challenge in the UK
The case has been heard in London because the
Australian Constitution is a
British law and the Australian High Court has no jurisdiction
over the Queen. The case, brought by a NSW barrister backed
by a group of academics, lawyers and the Australian Taxation
Reform Group, was heard in the Chancery Division in March
with the finding delivered last week. A spokesman for the
group, Ian Henke of Hastings, said while the court found against
them on a number of technical grounds, the Master agreed the
wrong official seal had been used to appoint the governor
general, Major General Phillip Michael Jeffery.
"Australia is in a unique position. Under
the Constitution the powers of every minister, judge and official
depend on the Governor General and he approves all legislation.
In Britain these functions are spread among many officials,"
Ian Henke said. "The fault came because the appointment
was made by the Queen of Australia, who the Master found does
not exist under the Constitution because a referendum wasn't
held when the title was created," he said. The British
Government's solicitors sought to prevent all the facts being
considered, but the Master chose to hear the submission.
"We don't expect the Australian Government
to take any notice of the decision," said Mr Henke, "but
it has implications for the Queen and could prevent any more
royal appointments in Australia that could cripple our form
Despite the favourable findings of fact the
group will appeal the decision as it contains an important
error in law in relation to the constitution, he said. "This
is another step in what has been a long campaign to force
the Australian government to give Australians our own constitution
with a fair and just taxation system.
The Australian Constitution is still an act
of the British Parliament unlike those of the other commonwealth
countries. "We are about three steps out of 10 away from
final success," Mr Henke said.