Hyper-literal interpretation of the Constitution

The Abbott government’s decision to rein in health and education funding to the states reflects a “reactionary, hyper-literal interpretation” of the constitution, Bill Shorten has argued.

It’s pleasing that the Abbott government is good for something. I’ve always maintained that there is only one interpretation of the constitution.

But it was this that caught my eye:

“It is true that when our constitution was drafted, the colonies retained responsibility for a range of front-line services, and yes, in 1901, there was no Commonwealth Department of Health or Education,” Shorten said. “But there was also no Department of Finance, or Transport, Industry, Communications, Indigenous Affairs, Arts, Sport, or Environment.”

Indeed. Abolish them too.

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57 Responses to Hyper-literal interpretation of the Constitution

  1. Rabz

    in 1901, there was no Commonwealth Department of Health or Education,” Shorten said. “But there was also no Department of Finance, or Transport, Industry, Communications, Indigenous Affairs, Arts, Sport, or Environment.”

    Sacre Bleu! How on earth did those people survive?

  2. Bruce of Newcastle

    If Mr Shorten does not like the interpretation of the Constitution he is within his rights to commence High Court action to test the interpretation. If the court rules in his favour then he will have been shown to be correct. Otherwise he should shut up and do his own job, not the High Court’s.

  3. Gab

    in 1901, there was no Commonwealth Department of Health or Education,” Shorten said. “But there was also no Department of Finance, or Transport, Industry, Communications, Indigenous Affairs, Arts, Sport, or Environment.”

    He says it like it’s a bad thing.

  4. nerblnob

    And yet Australia had Health, Education, Finance, Transport, Industry, Communications, Indigenous Affairs, Arts, Sport, and Environment.

    How could this possibly have happened without departments For and Of ?

  5. Absobloodylutely. Sinc

    What can one say other than repeat the RFSD*

    Shut.It.Down
    Fire.Them.All

    *Rabz Final Solution Doctrine

  6. No Peppa Pig!

    I wonder if all Australian sports people were drug cheats back then.
    /sarc

  7. Tel

    It is true that when our constitution was drafted…

    But that was then and this is now, right, right? So we can’t actually do what the words say anymore.

    But does he know that our Constitution also includes a way to make changes and keep with the times (hint: involving voters, not back doors and workarounds) ?

  8. Tel

    How could this possibly have happened without departments For and Of ?

    Well duh! All Australians were obviously dead in 1901, that stands to reason.

  9. Percy

    The High Court has filled in the bunkers, levelled all the trees lining the fairway and teed the ball up all nice like. Now Bill comes along to point out the wind speed and direction and distance to the pin. What’s the chance the government can actually hit this ball?

  10. .

    Shorten is wrong.

    Well duh.

    We have to go to the founder’s intent. (Although a literal interpretation as a basis is the only truly honest and legal interpretation there is).

    A hyper-literal interpretation of the constitution is not nearly enough.

    We have to realise these men presumed that a right to trial by jury under s.80 obviously meant a unanimous jury and that they presumed that by implying we were free and lived in a liberal democracy, that we had a right to bear arms, self defence and freedom from arbitrary government.

    A literal interpretation is a good start, but not enough. A true literal interpretation has the assumptions that Andrew Inglis Clark, Sir Henry Parkes, Sir Samuel Griffiths et. al., all had when they collaborated on the project.

    Fuck Shorten and the system. I will not have a hypo-literal interpretation of the laws I am meant to follow.

    It is what politicians demand of government, I shall be no worse off than Leviathan.

  11. .

    “I will now”

    Damn, stole my own thunder.

  12. boy on a bike

    Bill is free to propose changes via a referendum any time he likes.

  13. James B

    Shorten said the Australia of 1901 also had no social safety net, no minimum wage, no accessible higher education, no universal healthcare and no superannuation and was “a country where women were disempowered, where migrants were distrusted and Aboriginal Australians were counted as ‘fauna’ and deemed destined for extinction”.

    He said Australia had changed for the better, and governance had also evolved and improved.

    Wow, this guy is actually fucked. Listen to him absolutely trash the history of this nation, he really does not give a shit.

    The fact that there will be no backlash for these remarks shows how utterly fucked and dead our country is. At this point all we can hope for is that we are nuked to death.

  14. Leo G

    “I’ve always maintained that there is only one interpretation of the constitution.”

    What is your hyper-literal interpretation of Chapter II of the constitution? Should the GG really be the de facto executive?

  15. johanna

    Bill Shorten, the Postmaster-General’s Department was established in 1901, concurrent with Federation, pursuant to the communications power. So, there was a Department of Communications from the beginning. As for there being no Department of Finance, well, that was merely a hiving-off from the Treasury, which has existed from Day 1.

    That these emus let loose in the Country Womens Pavilion at the Show dare to squawk at all is bad enough. But when they do, the results are there for all to see.

    Gillard apparently had never heard of Bonner, Ridgeway and Wyatt – former Aboriginal MPs. Now we have someone who hopes to be Prime Minister who does not have the faintest grasp of the history, scope and powers of his future job.

    Frightening.

  16. johanna

    In the case of Wyatt, I should clarify that he is “former” to Peris.

  17. James B

    We have to realise these men presumed that a right to trial by jury under s.80 obviously meant a unanimous jury and that they presumed that by implying we were free and lived in a liberal democracy, that we had a right to bear arms, self defence and freedom from arbitrary government.

    Exactly. Good stuff.

    We also have to realise that the founders intended that states interpret the Constitution with THEIR OWN courts. Section 71 does not imply that all Constitutional issues are to be resolved by the High Court, or even any of them.

  18. .

    Leo G
    #1357741, posted on June 23, 2014 at 10:49 pm
    “I’ve always maintained that there is only one interpretation of the constitution.”

    What is your hyper-literal interpretation of Chapter II of the constitution? Should the GG really be the de facto executive?

    He should ride atop a white charger in the household guard uniform with the rank of Field Marshal and wear an eight pointed Ducal coronet!

  19. Infidel Tiger

    The High Court has filled in the bunkers, levelled all the trees lining the fairway and teed the ball up all nice like. Now Bill comes along to point out the wind speed and direction and distance to the pin. What’s the chance the government can actually hit this ball?

    These useless pricks won’t even hack it past the ladies tee.

  20. wreckage

    The Australia of 1901 he describes is a very different one to the historical one. He’s made up an imaginary past to hate. Women were a huge and emerging political force at the turn of the century, Aboriginals were not considered subhumans (Aboriginal rights and welfare were live issues from early settlement), social safety net was jointly handled by mutual societies, the State and the church, a minimum wage isn’t necessary by anyone’s lights in a booming economy with labour shortages – which it was – does this illiterate really aspire to being PM?

  21. He should ride atop a white charger in the household guard uniform with the rank of Field Marshal and wear an eight pointed Ducal coronet!

    He should gallop about at random every Saturday and extract the Oath of Allegiance at the point of a sword from all he meets. Even during football season.

  22. Also, he should be permitted to sit in judgement as supreme justice on any bench in any court in the land, at any time, with no warning.

  23. Plus do the occasional bit of tuck-shop duty. It would do the kids good.

  24. H B Bear

    Peanut Head continues to underwhelm. He is lucky that 99% of the media and a big chunk of voters can’t stand Abbott and that must push up his preferred PM numbers (not that they mean anything).

  25. Ripper

    Would you trust any of these peanut to re write the constitution under the excuse of republicanism?

  26. Leo G

    He should ride atop a white charger in the household guard uniform with the rank of Field Marshal and wear an eight pointed Ducal coronet

    Too Saxon for my liking. I prefer the Prussian Pickelhaube.

  27. ProEng

    Agree, abolish most of the Federal departments and get back to a Federation with frontline services and taxation run by the states.
    In fact adopt the Swiss Federal system of government (http://swiss-government-politics.all-about-switzerland.info/). They have 21 Cantons with a population of about 8 million. Citizen Initiated Referendum including constitutional issues occur once every year with decisions requiring a majority of total votes and a majority of states (which means voters in large populated areas ie cities can not dominate). The Cantons (or states ) do the taxing and give money to the federal government. That is the way federation started in Australia.
    I would suggest that there is a need for more states say 4 in Qld, 3 in NSW, 3 in WA, 2 in Vic, 2 in SA, 1 for Tas, 1 for ACT and 1 (with provision for 2) for NT.
    A Federal Senate with 3 from each state (appointed by state government or voted by people in the state) sitting for the same time 3 years as the lower house. The lower house having less parliamentarians than present, taking into account population differences so that no state has more than 5 representatives and no state has less than 1 representative. This should restrict the power of any small parties such as the greens and also the unions and the crooks.

  28. ar

    hyperliteral

    That’s just hyperbowl…

  29. Rabz

    Shorten said the Australia of 1901 … was “a country where … migrants were distrusted …”

    Agreed, James B – Peanut Head speaks utter bollocks here. My family on my dad’s side were Italian migrants who settled in this country in the late 1800s and they prospered in a new land of opportunity.

    I’m sick to death of these braindead, carping socialist mediocrities. Go and do us all a favour and ritually disembowel yourselves, you infuriating, destructive dunderheads.

  30. Alfonso

    You’ll pray for hyper -literal when the next Justice Kirby look alike gets hold of a shiny new Constitutional Preamble with which to interpret the “tone”, “context” and “intent” of the rest of the Constitution.

  31. Token

    It’s pleasing that the Abbott government is good for something. I’ve always maintained that there is only one interpretation of the constitution.

    I’m sure Peanut head believes that the constitution is a “living document” [i.e. using the Mordy technique to read and interpret what is not written].

  32. Token

    …when the next Justice Kirby look alike gets hold of a shiny new Constitutional Preamble…

    It is interesting to note how keen the left are to get that type of text into the document. I can’t wait for Adam Goode’s opinion on this topic.

  33. struth

    Where our real problems lie. Pompous twats in the high court who know better than the constitution and since hardly any great percentage of our population know we even have one, corruptly manipulate it to suit their superior world view and increase their power. The constitution is simply written to avoid this. That is in a world where common sense and basic English was understood. Purely corruption at the top.

  34. .

    I like what you’re saying ProEng, but CIR should have a “strikedown only” functionality.

  35. .

    Alfonso
    #1358056, posted on June 24, 2014 at 8:17 am
    You’ll pray for hyper -literal when the next Justice Kirby look alike gets hold of a shiny new Constitutional Preamble with which to interpret the “tone”, “context” and “intent” of the rest of the Constitution.

    We should be seriously and deeply concerned about such a development.

    No preamble. Hyperliterality. The founder’s intent.

    These are the foundations of liberty.

  36. brc

    I like what you’re saying ProEng, but CIR should have a “strikedown only” functionality.

    Indeed. Imagine an Australia where the margot kingstons of the world can try and write changes to the constitution. She’d have ten changes on the go at once, furiously being tweeted and retweeted.

    Strike downs and recall elections are the power the people need. The Gillard government wouldn’t have existed had these provisions been in place.

  37. old bloke

    He should ride atop a white charger in the household guard uniform with the rank of Field Marshal and wear an eight pointed Ducal coronet!

    Excellent idea, and the white charger should be given full voting rights in the Senate.

  38. old bloke

    using the Mordy technique to read and interpret what is not written

    Mordy can do that as he has a special magical ring which gives him insight beyond we mere mortals. When wearing his ring, he can actually see invisible writing which exists between the lines.

  39. .

    Is Clive Palmer the Goblin King?

  40. old bloke

    Judging by his shape, I’d say he was the king gobbler. “Gobbler” as one who consumes voraciously, not necessary a male turkey.

  41. Semihemi

    ” He should should ride atop a white charger……”
    And consult with the leader of the opposition as to the correct application of his Droit du Seigneur.

  42. Leo G

    “… a white charger in the household guard uniform with the rank of Field Marshal …”
    Excellent idea, and the white charger should be given full voting rights in the Senate.

    I don’t think Dot intended to insinuate Incitatus- he just omitted the commas. A horse which impresses in a household guard uniform should not be promoted just on that account- at least not without an appropriate commission. And a senate place should never be reserved for a whole horse.

  43. Diogenes

    Re citizen initiated referenda, it’s seems to work well in Switzerland. Otoh in San Francisco they are a disaster. Every referendum seems to strengthen the rights of tenants over owners. In factisso bad, if you wish to sell, you need to pay your tenant between 50 and 80 k “go away” money

  44. .

    Bloody hell, no Carmilla jokes thanks guys…

  45. Empire

    The headline you won’t read:

    Tits Horton calls for despotism: “rule of law outdated

    ’cause that’s what he’s really saying.

  46. stackja

    Barton Ministry From Wikipedia
    Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs Rt Hon Edmund Barton, KC MP
    Attorney-General Hon Alfred Deakin, MP
    Minister for Home Affairs Hon Sir William Lyne, KCMG MP (to 11 August 1903)
    Minister for Defence Rt Hon Sir John Forrest, GCMG MP (from 11 August 1903)
    Minister for Defence Hon Sir James Dickson, KCMG (to 10 January 1901)[2]
    Minister for Defence Rt Hon Sir John Forrest, GCMG MP (17 January 1901 to 10 August 1903)
    Minister for Defence Senator Hon James Drake (from 10 August 1903)
    Minister for Trade and Customs Rt Hon Charles Kingston, KC MP (to 24 July 1903)
    Minister for Trade and Customs Hon Sir William Lyne, KCMG MP (from 11 August 1903)
    Treasurer Rt Hon Sir George Turner, KCMG MP
    Postmaster-General Rt Hon Sir John Forrest, GCMG MP (to 17 January 1901)
    Postmaster-General Senator Hon James Drake (5 February 1901 to 10 August 1903)
    Postmaster-General Hon Sir Philip Fysh, KCMG MP (from 10 August 1903)
    Vice-President of the Executive Council Senator Hon Richard O’Connor, KC
    Ministers without portfolios Hon Elliott Lewis (to 23 April 1901)[3]
    Ministers without portfolios Hon Sir Philip Fysh, KCMG MP (26 April 1901 to 10 August 1903)

  47. twostix

    Didn’t labor largely not even want federalism? Chifley hated it, which is why the communist drunk ruined it by staging a coup against the states while we were in the middle of WW2.

  48. Leo G

    Tits Horton calls for despotism: “rule of law outdated“
    ’cause that’s what he’s really saying.

    BS says Constitution is BS.

  49. Toiling Mass

    Shorten said the Australia of 1901 … was “a country where … migrants were distrusted …”

    Keith Windshuttle’s researches refuting the Black Armband view of history showed that Australia was, from the outset, multi-racial. Africans, Fijians, Anglo-Saxons etc. All were British subjects and thus equal.

    I do recall, however, that there was a small party that wanted to legislate that white people were more deserving of being here and others should be prevented from coming in. Kind of a ‘white Australia policy’, for want of a better expression.

  50. Squirrel

    “johanna

    #1357742, posted on June 23, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    Bill Shorten, the Postmaster-General’s Department was established in 1901, concurrent with Federation, pursuant to the communications power. So, there was a Department of Communications from the beginning. As for there being no Department of Finance, well, that was merely a hiving-off from the Treasury, which has existed from Day 1.

    That these emus let loose in the Country Womens Pavilion at the Show dare to squawk at all is bad enough. But when they do, the results are there for all to see.

    Gillard apparently had never heard of Bonner, Ridgeway and Wyatt – former Aboriginal MPs. Now we have someone who hopes to be Prime Minister who does not have the faintest grasp of the history, scope and powers of his future job.

    Frightening.”

    Indeed – even worse, he couldn’t pronounce Damascene.

  51. Leo G

    – even worse, he couldn’t pronounce Damascene.

    Dumb as sin.

  52. Annie A

    Hello Cats,
    This is a little off topic re: Australian Constitution, but refers to Thomas Sowell’s opinion on how Obama is
    treating the American Constitution. Any thoughts?

    Link

  53. Leo G

    Annie A, the Australian Constitution was a goose allegedly hatched from a lame duck egg. Now it can be whatever the High Court interprets.

  54. .

    Annie

    The external affairs, corporations and referral powers vis a vis income tax powers have basically trashed the Federation.

    Surprisingly, the activist judges are reading our rights into the constitution in a way that seems to be pro liberty.

  55. Squirrel

    “Leo G

    #1358721, posted on June 24, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    – even worse, he couldn’t pronounce Damascene.

    Dumb as sin.”

    Just saw this – nice work!

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