File(s) under permanent embargo
Popular sovereignty, ‘the people’, and the Australian Constitution: a historical reassessment
journal contributionposted on 2019-01-01, 00:00 authored by Ben SaundersBen Saunders, Simon Kennedy
This article analyses the views of the framers of the Australian Constitution through the lens of the theme of popular sovereignty. It examines the leading works in political theory which have discussed the concept of popular sovereignty and identifies two main strands in that literature, namely the “constitutive” and “political” elements. The framers of the Constitution adhered to both of these strands of popular sovereignty thinking: they intended to create a constitutional structure that emanated from the people and to establish institutions of government through which the people would rule. The framers considered that, in a political sense, “the people” were the basis of constitutional and governmental authority and believed strongly that they were erecting a constitutional structure whose primary – if not sole – purpose was to ensure self-government by the Australian people. As such, their views can accurately be characterised in popular sovereignty terms.