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Robert Menzies: the rule of law « Previous | |Next »
July 21, 2004

It is a slow newsday, unless you think that Telstra's new chairman, Donald McGauchie, is a big headline. It is not. He is not going to make that much difference to selling the rest of Telstra. Nor is the full privatisation of Telstra on the Senate agenda before the election, no matter how many conciliatory noises Senator Coonan makes about revising bits of the legislation. Telstra have a long way to go to lift their service game in regional Australia. Will McGauchie try to slip a fast one past his old mates?

After flickering the major dailies I read some of Robert Menzies's essays from his Forgotten People book over morning coffee. These are much more interesting. The essay I read was 'The law and the citizen' where Menzies is talking about the rule of law. He says:

"Of all laws, that of the Constitution is at once the most fundamental and the most sacred. Parliament may tell us from day to day what we are to do or not to do. The Parliaments themselves are controlled by the Constitution, which is not their servant but, on the contrary, their master.The Commonwealth Constitution is the organic law under which the Commonwealth Parliament and the Commonwealth Government are set up and exercise their functions. Neither Parliament not Government can alter it. Only the people can do that. They were its creators forty years ago. They are its master still "

You do not hear that language about the people being the master today from the Coalition. Menzies goes on to say:

"...that to ignore the Constitution, to treat its structure and limitations it imposes upon the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament as of no account, to endeavour by clamour to prevent recourse to the courts for its interpretation, is to violate the whole conception of the rule of law."

The Coalition's attack on the High Court for its interpretation of the Constitution, and their advocacy of Parliament being supreme, do violate the rule of law. They forget what Menzies well knew: that the powers of Parliament are conferred upon it by the supreme law of the land.

Tis a sorry day to see these latter day conservatives trash the heritage of Menzies they proclaim to revere.

Did not Donald McGaughie, when the president of the National Farmers Federation hold that history has been misinterpreted by the High Court, that the the Wik decision should be overturned through legislation because co-existence with Aboriginal people will not work? That was Donald McGaughie was it not? You know, the one wanted the extinguishment of any shred of native title that might have survived the grant of a pastoral lease.The one who helped create fear in the bush that the pastoralists would lose their property to the indigenous people.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:28 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1)

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