chapter  8
16 Pages

The original understanding of section 116

ByLuke Beck

The starting point for an analysis of the word 'for' is the draft Constitution Bill prepared by the Tasmanian Attorney-General Andrew Inglis Clark before the 1891 National Australasian Convention. The Convention gave slightly more attention to the meaning of the free exercise clause than it did to the other clauses of section 116. Henry Higgins made much of the fact he was borrowing language from the United States Constitution for section 116. Higgins proposed the establishment and free exercise clauses principally because they were found in the United States Constitution. Charles Bradlaugh was not mentioned in debate at the Federal Convention but his situation was referred to in public in connection with the drafting of the Constitution. The principal mischief section 116 was intended to address was the possibility that the Commonwealth might have power to impose religious observances such as by enacting Sunday closing laws.