chapter  11
13 Pages

Post-war attempts to amend section 116

ByLuke Beck

Gough Whitlam was a reformer and the Convention was another opportunity for another reform. He described Alan Greenwood's argument as 'patently absurd' and said that intellectual consistency would demand that Greenwood move for the deletion of section 116 from the Constitution, which he had not done. Whitlam was approaching section 116 from a very different angle to the Standing Committee and Goff Letts. Whitlam pointed out that there 'a similar guarantee, from which the one in the Australian Constitution is derived' applies to Congress as well as the State legislatures. Echoing concerns raised at the Australian Constitutional Convention, the Advisory Committee noted that an extension of section 116 to bind the States might have implications for 'legitimate State activities' such as the regulation of schools. The Constitution Alteration (Rights and Freedoms) Bill 1988 proposed changes to section 80 relating to trial by jury, to section 51(xxxi) relating to compensation for compulsory acquisition of property, and to section 116.