Australian Constitutionalism between Subsidiarity and Federalism
journal contributionposted on 2019-10-29, 09:33 authored by Benjamen Franklen Gussen
A full 125 years has passed since Sir Henry Parkes delivered a speech at Tenterfield advocating for a political process that led to the Federation. Throughout this period, our constitutionalism was understood through the prism of the federal model where sovereignty is divided between different tiers of government. This article argues that a refined understanding of our constitutional journey suggests a different model, one based on the principle of subsidiarity where sovereignty is not divided but shared. The article proposes a fundamental shift in the way we see federalism — from a value in itself to a subset of subsidiarity. On 27 October 2014, the Australian Prime Minster delivered another speech at Tenterfield that called for a bipartisan reform plan to fix the Federation. On the same day, The Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (‘CEDA’), a bipartisan, non-profit, national think tank, published a report on the Federation that details some reform options. Understanding that subsidiarity forms the hypostasis of our constitutionalism is imperative to any successful reform.