In the Shadow of the Crown: Some Men Look At Constitutions…

Christopher Reynolds began an extensive study of Australian political history and the Australian Constitution when he was a senior professional staff member in the U.S. Congress in the 1980s. As someone who drafted and promoted legislation, he was interested in Australia’s complicated relationship with Britain as well as what it needs to change to promote democracy. Quoting authors from Aristotle to Thomas Jefferson, and a host of Australian authorities, Reynolds outlines Australia’s journey from being a dominion of the British Empire toward independence. He supports his findings by examining documents from British archives, Australian constitutional debates, as well as the constitutions of other nations that show a path to meaningful reform. Reynolds takes a revealing journey through the history of Australian politics and consider a model of government based on involvement and interaction rather than conflict with In the Shadow of the Crown.

Reynolds examined 26 constitutions, including the United States, Israel, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa and, India.

 He writes: “Ireland, South Africa and India are independent nations with a president for their executive officer. All three countries dealt with the problem of conventions within the parliamentary system when creating their Constitutions. All three opted to codify the conventions surrounding the office of governor general”. p 132.  

“In order to create a republic of Australia the initial step is to assert that sovereignty lies with the people. This does not, however, mean that parliamentary government should be scrapped. It is a familiar form of government and therefore more likely to function effectively then some other system of government. There is no need to eliminate the three branches of government as they are known, there is only a need to alter the function and relationship of the branches in order to make representation more open and effective.” p135.

 “Precedent exists for Australia to follow. There are other Dominions which have asserted independence, and other constitutions which show how a parliamentary republic can operate. When Australia is ready to perceive itself as Australian, independence is attainable. The method for achieving this end is to amend the Constitution, strengthen democratic safeguards, and establish popular sovereignty. This outcome is inevitable; it is only a matter of time before it becomes a reality”.  . p.178