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Constitution of Australia (1901, rev. 1985)

1The following text is from the Constitute Project, who through a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License, has generously made this content available for use for noncommercial purposes. Follow (right-click) the links and read the annotation to learn more. 1

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3Chapter I. The Parliament

4Part I. General

51. Legislative power

6The legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Parliament, which shall consist of the Queen, a Senate, and a House of Representatives, and which is hereinafter called The Parliament, or The Parliament of the Commonwealth.

72. Governor-General

8A Governor-General appointed by the Queen shall be Her Majesty's representative in the Commonwealth, and shall have and may exercise in the Commonwealth during the Queen's pleasure, but subject to this Constitution, such powers and functions of the Queen as Her Majesty may be pleased to assign to him.

93. Salary of Governor-General

10There shall be payable to the Queen out of the Consolidated Revenue fund of the Commonwealth, for the salary of the Governor-General, an annual sum which, until the Parliament otherwise provides, shall be ten thousand pounds.

11The salary of a Governor-General shall not be altered during his continuance in office.

124. Provisions relating to Governor-General

13The provisions of this Constitution relating to the Governor-General extend and apply to the Governor-General for the time being, or such person as the Queen may appoint to administer the Government of the Commonwealth; but no such person shall be entitled to receive any salary from the Commonwealth in respect of any other office during his administration of the Government of the Commonwealth.

145. Sessions of Parliament.

15Prorogation and dissolution:

16The Governor-General may appoint such times for holding the sessions of the Parliament as he thinks fit, and may also from time to time, by Proclamation or otherwise, prorogue the Parliament, and may in like manner dissolve the House of Representatives.

17Summoning Parliament:

18After any general election the Parliament shall be summoned to meet not later than thirty days after the day appointed for the return of the writs.

19First session:

20The Parliament shall be summoned to meet not later than six months after the establishment of the Commonwealth.

216. Yearly session of Parliament

22There shall be a session of the Parliament once at least in every year, so that twelve months shall not intervene between the last sitting of the Parliament in one session and its first sitting in the next session.

23Part II. The Senate

247. The Senate

25The Senate shall be composed of senators for each State, directly chosen by the people of the State, voting, until the Parliament otherwise provides, as one electorate.

26But until the Parliament of the Commonwealth otherwise provides, the Parliament of the State of Queensland, if that State be an Original State, may make laws dividing the State into divisions and determining the number of senators to be chosen for each division, and in the absence of such provision the State shall be one electorate.

27Until the Parliament otherwise provides there shall be six senators for each Original State. The Parliament may make laws increasing or diminishing the number of senators for each State, but so that equal representation of the several Original States shall be maintained and that no Original State shall have less than six senators.

28The senators shall be chosen for a term of six years, and the names of the senators chosen for each State shall be certified by the Governor to the Governor-General.

298. Qualification of electors

30The qualification of electors of senators shall be in each State that which is prescribed by this Constitution, or by the Parliament, as the qualification for electors of members of the House of Representatives; but in the choosing of senators each elector shall vote only once.

319. Method of election of senators

32The Parliament of the Commonwealth may make laws prescribing the method of choosing senators, but so that the method shall be uniform for all the States. Subject to any such law, the Parliament of each State may make laws prescribing the method of choosing the senators for that State.

33Times and places:

34The Parliament of a State may make laws for determining the times and places of elections of senators for the State.

3510. Application of State laws

36Until the Parliament otherwise provides, but subject to this Constitution, the laws in force in each State, for the time being relating to elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of the State shall, as nearly as practicable, apply to elections of senators for the State.

3711. Failure to choose senators

38The Senate may proceed to the despatch of business, notwithstanding the failure of any State to provide for its representation in the Senate.

3912. Issue of writs

40The Governor of any State may cause writs to be issued for elections of senators for the State. In case of the dissolution of the Senate the writs shall be issued within ten days from the proclamation of such dissolution.

4113. Rotation of senators

42As soon as may be after the Senate first meets, and after each first meeting of the Senate following a dissolution thereof, the Senate shall divide the senators chosen for each State into two classes, as nearly equal in number as practicable; and the places of the senators of the first class shall become vacant at the expiration of three years, and the places of those of the second class at the expiration of six years, from the beginning of their term of service; and afterwards the places of senators shall become vacant at the expiration of six years from the beginning of their term of service.

43The election to fill vacant places shall be made within one year before the places are to become vacant.

44For the purposes of this section the term of service of a senator shall be taken to begin on the first day of July following the day of his election, except in the cases of the first election and of the election next after any dissolution of the Senate, when it shall be taken to begin on the first day of July preceding the day of his election.

4514. Further provision for rotation

46Whenever the number of senators for a State is increased or diminished, the Parliament of the Commonwealth may make such provision for the vacating of the places of senators for the State as it deems necessary to maintain regularity in the rotation.

4715. Casual vacancies

48If the place of a senator becomes vacant before the expiration of his term of service, the Houses of Parliament of the State for which he was chosen, sitting and voting together, or, if there is only one House of that Parliament, that House, shall choose a person to hold the place until the expiration of the term. But if the Parliament of the State is not in session when the vacancy is notified, the Governor of the State, with the advice of the Executive Council thereof, may appoint a person to hold the place until the expiration of fourteen days from the beginning of the next session of the Parliament of the State or the expiration of the term, whichever first happens.

49Where a vacancy has at any time occurred in the place of a senator chosen by the people of a State and, at the time when he was so chosen, he was publicly recognized by a particular political party as being an endorsed candidate of that party and publicly represented himself to be such a candidate, a person chosen or appointed under this section in consequence of that vacancy, or in consequence of that vacancy and a subsequent vacancy or vacancies, shall, unless there is no member of that party available to be chosen or appointed, be a member of that party.

50Where:

51 a.in accordance with the last preceding paragraph, a member of a particular political party is chosen or appointed to hold the place of a senator whose place had become vacant; and

52 b.before taking his seat he ceases to be a member of that party (otherwise than by reason of the party having ceased to exist);

53he shall be deemed not to have been so chosen or appointed and the vacancy shall be again notified in accordance with section twenty-one of this Constitution.

54The name of any senator chosen or appointed under this section shall be certified by the Governor of the State to the Governor-General.

55If the place of a senator chosen by the people of the State at the election of senators last held before the commencement of the Constitution Alteration (Senate Casual Vacancies) 1977 became vacant before that commencement and, at that commencement, no person chosen by the House or Houses of Parliament of the State or appointed by the Governor of the State, in consequence of that vacancy, or in consequence of that vacancy and a subsequent vacancy or vacancies, held office, this section applies as if the place of the senator chosen by the people of the State had become vacant after that commencement.

56A senator holding office at the commencement of the Constitution Alteration (Senate Casual Vacancies) 1977, being a senator appointed by the Governor of a State in consequence of a vacancy that had at any time occurred in the place of a senator chosen by the people of the State, shall be deemed to have been appointed to hold the place until the expiration of fourteen days after the beginning of the next session of the Parliament of the State that commenced or commences after he was appointed and further action under this section shall be taken as if the vacancy in the place of the senator chosen by the people of the State had occurred after that commencement.

57Subject to the next succeeding paragraph, a senator holding office at the commencement of the Constitution Alteration (Senate Casual Vacancies) 1977 who was chosen by the House or Houses of Parliament of a State in consequence of a vacancy that had at any time occurred in the place of a senator chosen by the people of the State shall be deemed to have been chosen to hold office until the expiration of the term of service of the senator elected by the people of the State.

58If, at or before the commencement of the Constitution Alteration (Senate Casual Vacancies) 1977, a law to alter the Constitution entitled "Constitution Alteration (Simultaneous Elections) 1977" came into operation, a senator holding office at the commencement of that law who was chosen by the House or Houses of Parliament of a State in consequence of a vacancy that had at any time occurred in the place of a senator chosen by the people of the State shall be deemed to have been chosen to hold office:

59 a.if the senator elected by the people of the State had a term of service expiring on the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and seventy-eight, until the expiration or dissolution of the first House of Representatives to expire or be dissolved after that law came into operation; or

60 b.if the senator elected by the people of the State had a term of service expiring on the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and eighty-one, until the expiration or dissolution of the second House of Representatives to expire or be dissolved after that law came into operation or, if there is an earlier dissolution of the Senate, until that dissolution.

6116. Qualifications of senator

62The qualifications of a senator shall be the same as those of a member of the House of Representatives.

6317. Election of President

64The Senate shall, before proceeding to the despatch of any other business, choose a senator to be the President of the Senate; and as often as the office of President becomes vacant the Senate shall again choose a senator to be the President.

65The President shall cease to hold his office if he ceases to be a senator. He may be removed from office by a vote of the Senate, or he may resign his office or his seat by writing addressed to the Governor-General.

6618. Absence of President

67Before or during any absence of the President, the Senate may choose a senator to perform his duties in his absence.

6819. Resignation of senator

69A senator may, by writing addressed to the President, or to the Governor-General if there is no President or if the President is absent from the Commonwealth, resign his place, which thereupon shall become vacant.

7020. Vacancy by absence

71The place of a senator shall become vacant if for two consecutive months of any session of the Parliament he, without the permission of the Senate, fails to attend the Senate.

7221. Vacancy to be notified

73Whenever a vacancy happens in the Senate, the President, or if there is no President or if the President is absent from the Commonwealth the Governor-General, shall notify the same to the Governor of the State in the representation of which the vacancy has happened.

7422. Quorum

75Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the presence of at least one-third of the whole number of the senators shall be necessary to constitute a meeting of the Senate for the exercise of its powers.

7623. Voting in the Senate

77Questions arising in the Senate shall be determined by a majority of votes, and each senator shall have one vote. The President shall in all cases be entitled to a vote; and when the votes are equal the question shall pass in the negative.

78Part III. The House of Representatives

7924. Constitution of House of Representatives

80The House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the Commonwealth, and the number of such members shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of the senators.

81The number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people, and shall, until the Parliament otherwise provides, be determined, whenever necessary, in the following manner:

82 i.a quota shall be ascertained by dividing the number of the people of the Commonwealth, as shown by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth, by twice the number of the senators;

83 ii.the number of members to be chosen in each State shall be determined by dividing the number of the people of the State, as shown by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth, by the quota; and if on such division there is a remainder greater than one-half of the quota, one more member shall be chosen in the State.

84But notwithstanding anything in this section, five members at least shall be chosen in each Original State.

8525. Provision as to races disqualified from voting

86For the purposes of the last section, if by the law of any State all persons of any race are disqualified from voting at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of the State, then, in reckoning the number of the people of the State or of the Commonwealth, persons of that race resident in that State shall not be counted.

8726. Representatives in first Parliament

88Notwithstanding anything in section twenty-four, the number of members to be chosen in each State at the first election shall be as follows:

89 New South Wales, twenty-three;

90 Victoria, twenty;

91 Queensland, eight;

92 South Australia, six;

93 Tasmania, five;

94Provided that if Western Australia is an Original State, the numbers shall be as follows:

95 New South Wales, twenty-six;

96 Victoria, twenty-three;

97 Queensland, nine;

98 South Australia, seven;

99 Western Australia, five;

100 Tasmania, five.

10127. Alteration of number of members

102Subject to this Constitution, the Parliament may make laws for increasing or diminishing the number of the members of the House of Representatives.

10328. Duration of House of Representatives

104Every House of Representatives shall continue for three years from the first meeting of the House, and no longer, but may be sooner dissolved by the Governor-General.

10529. Electoral divisions

106Until the Parliament of the Commonwealth otherwise provides, the Parliament of any State may make laws for determining the divisions in each State for which members of the House of Representatives may be chosen, and the number of members to be chosen for each division. A division shall not be formed out of parts of different States.

107In the absence of other provision, each State shall be one electorate.

10830. Qualification of electors

109Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the qualification of electors of members of the House of Representatives shall be in each State that which is prescribed by the law of the State as the qualification of electors of the more numerous House of Parliament of the State; but in the choosing of members each elector shall vote only once.

11031. Application of State laws

111Until the Parliament otherwise provides, but subject to this Constitution, the laws in force in each State for the time being relating to elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of the State shall, as nearly as practicable, apply to elections in the State of members of the House of Representatives.

11232. Writs for general election

113The Governor-General in Council may cause writs to be issued for general elections of members of the House of Representatives.

114After the first general election, the writs shall be issued within ten days from the expiry of a House of Representatives or from the proclamation of a dissolution thereof.

11533. Writs for vacancies

116Whenever a vacancy happens in the House of Representatives, the Speaker shall issue his writ for the election of a new member, or if there is no Speaker or if he is absent from the Commonwealth the Governor-General in Council may issue the writ.

11734. Qualifications of members

118Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the qualifications of a member of the House of Representatives shall be as follows:

119 i.he must be of the full age of twenty-one years, and must be an elector entitled to vote at the election of members of the House of Representatives, or a person qualified to become such elector, and must have been for three years at the least a resident within the limits of the Commonwealth as existing at the time when he is chosen;

120 ii.he must be a subject of the Queen, either natural-born or for at least five years naturalized under a law of the United Kingdom, or of a Colony which has become or becomes a State, or of the Commonwealth, or of a State.

12135. Election of Speaker

122The House of Representatives shall, before proceeding to the despatch of any other business, choose a member to be the Speaker of the House, and as often as the office of Speaker becomes vacant the House shall again choose a member to be the Speaker.

123The Speaker shall cease to hold his office if he ceases to be a member. He may be removed from office by a vote of the House, or he may resign his office or his seat by writing addressed to the Governor-General.

12436. Absence of Speaker

125Before or during any absence of the Speaker, the House of Representatives may choose a member to perform his duties in his absence.

12637. Resignation of member

127A member may by writing addressed to the Speaker, or to the Governor-General if there is no Speaker or if the Speaker is absent from the Commonwealth, resign his place, which thereupon shall become vacant.

12838. Vacancy by absence

129The place of a member shall become vacant if for two consecutive months of any session of the Parliament he, without the permission of the House, fails to attend the House.

13039. Quorum

131Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the presence of at least one-third of the whole number of the members of the House of Representatives shall be necessary to constitute a meeting of the House for the exercise of its powers.

13240. Voting in House of Representatives

133Questions arising in the House of Representatives shall be determined by a majority of votes other than that of the Speaker. The Speaker shall not vote unless the numbers are equal, and then he shall have a casting vote.

134Part IV. Both Houses of the Parliament

13541. Right of electors of States

136No adult person who has or acquires a right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State shall, while the right continues, be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from voting at elections for either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth.

13742. Oath or affirmation of allegiance

138Every senator and every member of the House of Representatives shall before taking his seat make and subscribe before the Governor-General, or some person authorised by him, an oath or affirmation of allegiance in the form set forth in the schedule to this Constitution.

13943. Member of one House ineligible for other

140A member of either House of the Parliament shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a member of the other House.

14144. Disqualification

142Any person who:

143 i.is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; or

144 ii.is attainted of treason, or has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer; or

145 iii.is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent; or

146 iv.holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth; or

147 v.has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty-five persons;

148shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

149But subsection (iv) does not apply to the office of any of the Queen's Ministers of State for the Commonwealth, or of any of the Queen's Ministers for a State, or to the receipt of pay, half pay, or a pension, by any person as an officer or member of the Queen's navy or army, or to the receipt of pay as an officer or member of the naval or military forces of the Commonwealth by any person whose services are not wholly employed by the Commonwealth.

15045. Vacancy on happening of disqualification

151If a senator or member of the House of Representatives:

152 i.becomes subject to any of the disabilities mentioned in the last preceding section; or

153 ii.takes the benefit, whether by assignment, composition, or otherwise, of any law relating to bankrupt or insolvent debtors; or

154 iii.directly or indirectly takes or agrees to take any fee or honorarium for services rendered to the Commonwealth, or for services rendered in the Parliament to any person or State;

155his place shall thereupon become vacant.

15646. Penalty for sitting when disqualified

157Until the Parliament otherwise provides, any person declared by this Constitution to be incapable of sitting as a senator or as a member of the House of Representatives shall, for every day on which he so sits, be liable to pay the sum of one hundred pounds to any person who sues for it in any court of competent jurisdiction.

15847. Disputed elections

159Until the Parliament otherwise provides, any question respecting the qualification of a senator or of a member of the House of Representatives, or respecting a vacancy in either House of the Parliament, and any question of a disputed election to either House, shall be determined by the House in which the question arises.

16048. Allowance to members

161Until the Parliament otherwise provides, each senator and each member of the House of Representatives shall receive an allowance of four hundred pounds a year, to be reckoned from the day on which he takes his seat.

16249. Privileges etc. of Houses

163The powers, privileges, and immunities of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, and of the members and the committees of each House, shall be such as are declared by the Parliament, and until declared shall be those of the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom, and of its members and committees, at the establishment of the Commonwealth.

16450. Rules and orders

165Each House of the Parliament may make rules and orders with respect to:

166 i.the mode in which its powers, privileges, and immunities may be exercised and upheld;

167 ii.the order and conduct of its business and proceedings either separately or jointly with the other House.

168Part V. Powers of the Parliament

16951. Legislative powers of the Parliament

170The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:

171 i.trade and commerce with other countries, and among the States;

172 ii.taxation; but so as not to discriminate between States or parts of States;

173 iii.bounties on the production or export of goods, but so that such bounties shall be uniform throughout the Commonwealth;

174 iv.borrowing money on the public credit of the Commonwealth;

175 v.postal, telegraphic, telephonic, and other like services;

176 vi.the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth and of the several States, and the control of the forces to execute and maintain the laws of the Commonwealth;

177 vii.lighthouses, lightships, beacons and buoys;

178 viii.astronomical and meteorological observations;

179 ix.quarantine;

180 x.fisheries in Australian waters beyond territorial limits;

181 xi.census and statistics;

182 xii.currency, coinage, and legal tender;

183 xiii.banking, other than State banking; also State banking extending beyond the limits of the State concerned, the incorporation of banks, and the issue of paper money;

184 xiv.insurance, other than State insurance; also State insurance extending beyond the limits of the State concerned;

185 xv.weights and measures;

186 xvi.bills of exchange and promissory notes;

187 xvii.bankruptcy and insolvency;

188 xviii.copyrights, patents of inventions and designs, and trade marks;

189 xix.naturalization and aliens;

190 xx.foreign corporations, and trading or financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth;

191 xxi.marriage;

192 xxii.divorce and matrimonial causes; and in relation thereto, parental rights, and the custody and guardianship of infants;

193 xxiii.invalid and old-age pensions;

194 xxiiiA.the provision of maternity allowances, widows' pensions, child endowment, unemployment, pharmaceutical, sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services (but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription), benefits to students and family allowances;

195 xxiv.the service and execution throughout the Commonwealth of the civil and criminal process and the judgments of the courts of the States;

196 xxv.the recognition throughout the Commonwealth of the laws, the public Acts and records, and the judicial proceedings of the States;

197 xxvi.the people of any race for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws;

198 xxvii.immigration and emigration;

199 xxviii.the influx of criminals;

200 xxix.external affairs;

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