States rights and Australia's adoption of the Statute of Westminster, 1931-1942

Lee, David 2016, States rights and Australia's adoption of the Statute of Westminster, 1931-1942, History Australia, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 258-274, doi: 10.1080/14490854.2016.1186001.

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Title States rights and Australia's adoption of the Statute of Westminster, 1931-1942
Author(s) Lee, David
Journal name History Australia
Volume number 13
Issue number 2
Start page 258
End page 274
Total pages 17
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Place of publication Melbourne, Vic.
Publication date 2016
ISSN 1449-0854
Keyword(s) British Empire
dominion status
foreign affairs
Summary Some historians have speculated on whether party political disagreements between Labor and non-Labor parties were behind the more than 10 years it took the Commonwealth of Australia to adopt the main provisions of the Statute of Westminster, the 1931 imperial act which declared the independence of the parliaments of the self-governing British dominions. This article examines the efforts to adopt the Statute between 1931 and 1942 and the connection of the Statute with Western Australia’s campaign for secession. It is argued that there was a bipartisan consensus at the federal level between Labor and the United Australia and Country parties in Australia on a pragmatic approach to defining dominion status. This was one that sought uniformity throughout the Empire, and that therefore supported adoption of the Statute of Westminster by all the self-governing British dominions after it had been passed by the British Parliament in 1931. Party politics was a secondary issue in the delay and the Statute of Westminster did not function as a marker of any particular political party’s broader attitude to imperial loyalty. The Commonwealth’s relations with the States and the secessionist aspirations of one of them – Western Australia – were the major cause of the delay in the Commonwealth Parliament’s adopting the law.
Language eng
DOI 10.1080/14490854.2016.1186001
Field of Research 210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
160601 Australian Government and Politics
2103 Historical Studies
Socio Economic Objective 950503 Understanding Australia's Past
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, Australian Historical Association
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