Federal Parliament's changing role in treaty making and external affairs

Federal government Parliament Defence National security Australia

Today, as a sovereign nation, Australia enters into treaties and its Parliaments decide whether to implement them as law in Australia. This situation is vastly different from that which prevailed at the time the Commonwealth Constitution came into effect.

In 1901, the Australian Government had no power to enter into treaties in its own right. At most its powers extended to indicating to the British Government that it wished to adhere (or not to adhere) to certain commercial treaties. This paper records and discusses the Government's changing role and makes an assessment of the recent reforms to the treaty making process which involve a much greater level of parliamentary involvement.

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