Leading Researchers Believe British Subjects Could Roll Republic – High Court Challenge Anticipated

The Executive Director of Ausflag, Mr Harold Scruby, today released letters from leading Australian political experts, suggesting that British Subjects (foreigners) could ruin the chances of Australia becoming a Republic in the forthcoming referendum on 6 November 1999.

Mr Scruby said: "There are up to 300,000 British Subjects living in Australia, a large percentage residing in South Australia and Western Australia, where the vote is most critically balanced. All these people have been invited, begged, and cajoled into becoming Australia citizens and have refused. All have been living and voting in Australia for between 15 and 50 years, but have refused all offers to become Australians. We believe they have no right to determine Australia's future, either at elections or referenda."

Mr Scruby added: "This view is supported by a poll conducted by AGB McNair in 1996 which found that 81% of Australians believed that only Australian citizens should vote at Australian elections or referendums.

"Ausflag's concerns are based on recent amendments to the Flags Act that require a plebiscite/referendum before the current flag can change. We do not want our chances of proclaiming our own flag prejudiced by the votes of foreigners whose loyalties lie elsewhere.

Mr Scruby said: "Ausflag is planning a challenge in the High Court. Our case will be based on the following argument:

  1. Section 24 of the Constitution relevantly provides that "The House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the Commonwealth".

  2. 'Aliens' under Section 51 (xix) of the Constitution are not 'people of the Commonwealth'.

  3. All non-citizens are aliens.

  4. Therefore, all non-citizens are not people of the Commonwealth.

  5. As a consequence, non-citizens cannot be electors in elections and constitutional referenda.

"The recent decision in the High Court in the 'Heather Hill' case in deciding that Britain is a foreign power for the purposes of the Constitution, indicates that the Court may be receptive to this argument.

"Some politicians argue that denying British Subjects voting rights would require retrospective legislation. This is utter nonsense. Ausflag is seeking to deny these people future voting rights. This is prospective and no different from any ordinary legislation which denies people rights they have had in the past, such as recent laws denying ownership of certain firearms.

"Ausflag is indeed surprised and disappointed that to date, no politician has sought to reflect the overwhelming will of the Australian people by proposing amendments to the Electoral Act.

"We have a team of expert solicitors and barristers who are prepared to argue the case pro bono. However, we are only hampered by the need to raise the required funds should we lose and the Commonwealth's costs are awarded against us," Mr Scruby added.