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Courts - Australia - Australian challenge in the UK court

The UK High Court has found that Australia's Governor General has not
been properly appointed by the Queen. (Friday, June 25, 2004).

The case has been heard in London because the Australian Constitution is a
British law and the Australian High Court has no jurisdiction over the Queen. The case, brought by a NSW barrister backed by a group of academics, lawyers and the Australian Taxation Reform Group, was heard in the Chancery Division in March with the finding delivered last week. A spokesman for the group, Ian Henke of Hastings, said while the court found against them on a number of technical grounds, the Master agreed the wrong official seal had been used to appoint the governor general, Major General Phillip Michael Jeffery.

"Australia is in a unique position. Under the Constitution the powers of every minister, judge and official depend on the Governor General and he approves all legislation. In Britain these functions are spread among many officials," Ian Henke said. "The fault came because the appointment was made by the Queen of Australia, who the Master found does not exist under the Constitution because a referendum wasn't held when the title was created," he said. The British Government's solicitors sought to prevent all the facts being considered, but the Master chose to hear the submission.

"We don't expect the Australian Government to take any notice of the decision," said Mr Henke, "but it has implications for the Queen and could prevent any more royal appointments in Australia that could cripple our form of government."

Despite the favourable findings of fact the group will appeal the decision as it contains an important error in law in relation to the constitution, he said. "This is another step in what has been a long campaign to force the Australian government to give Australians our own constitution with a fair and just taxation system.

The Australian Constitution is still an act of the British Parliament unlike those of the other commonwealth countries. "We are about three steps out of 10 away from final success," Mr Henke said.

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