Abolitionism was the movement to end slavery. This term can be used both formally and informally. In Western Europe and the Americas, abolitionism was a historic movement that sought to end the Atlantic slave trade and set slaves free. King Charles I of Spain known as Emperor Charles V, was following the example of Louis X of France who had abolished slavery within the Kingdom of France in 1315, he passed a law which would have abolished colonial slavery in 1542, although this law was not passed in the largest colonial states, it was not enforced as a result. In the late 17th century, the Roman Catholic Church condemned the slave trade in response to a plea by Lourenço da Silva de Mendouça, it was vehemently condemned by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839; the abolitionist movement only started in the late 18th century, when English and American Quakers began to question the morality of slavery. James Oglethorpe was among the first to articulate the Enlightenment case against slavery, banning it in the Province of Georgia on humanitarian grounds, arguing against it in Parliament, encouraging his friends Granville Sharp and Hannah More to vigorously pursue the cause.
Soon after his death in 1785, Sharp and More united with William Wilberforce and others in forming the Clapham Sect. The Somersett Case in 1772, in which a fugitive slave was freed with the judgement that slavery did not exist under English common law, helped launch the British movement to abolish slavery. Though anti-slavery sentiments were widespread by the late 18th century, the colonies and emerging nations that used slave labour continued to do so: Dutch, British and Portuguese territories in the West Indies, South America, the Southern United States. After the American Revolution established the United States, northern states, beginning with Pennsylvania in 1780, passed legislation during the next two decades abolishing slavery, sometimes by gradual emancipation. Massachusetts ratified a constitution. Vermont, which existed as an unrecognized state from 1777 to 1791, abolished adult slavery in 1777. In other states, such as Virginia, similar declarations of rights were interpreted by the courts as not applicable to Africans and African Americans.
During the following decades, the abolitionist movement grew in northern states, Congress regulated the expansion of slavery in new states admitted to the union. In 1787 the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade was formed in London. Revolutionary France abolished slavery throughout its empire in 1794, although it was restored in 1802 by Napoleon as part of a program to ensure sovereignty over its colonies. Haiti formally declared independence from France in 1804 and brought an end to slavery in its territory; the northern states in the U. S. all abolished slavery by 1804. The United Kingdom and the United States outlawed the international slave trade in 1807, after which Britain led efforts to block slave ships. Britain abolished slavery throughout its empire by the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, the French colonies re-abolished it in 1848 and the U. S. abolished slavery in 1865 with the 13th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. In Eastern Europe, groups organized to abolish the enslavement of the Roma in Wallachia and Moldavia, to emancipate the serfs in Russia.
Slavery was declared illegal in 1948 under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Mauritania was the last country to abolish slavery, with a presidential decree in 1981. Today and adult slavery and forced labour are illegal in all countries, as well as being against international law, but a high rate of human trafficking for labour and for sexual bondage continues to affect tens of millions of adults and children. In 1315, Louis X, king of France, published a decree proclaiming that "France signifies freedom" and that any slave setting foot on the French ground should be freed; this prompted subsequent governments to circumscribe slavery in the overseas colonies. Some cases of African slaves freed by setting foot on the French soil were recorded such as this example of a Norman slave merchant who tried to sell slaves in Bordeaux in 1571, he was arrested and his slaves were freed according to a declaration of the Parlement of Guyenne which stated that slavery was intolerable in France. Born into slavery in Saint Domingue, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas became free when his father brought him to France in 1776.
As in other New World colonies, the French relied on the Atlantic slave trade for labour for their sugar cane plantations in their Caribbean colonies. In addition, French colonists in Louisiane in North America held slaves in the South around New Orleans, where they established sugarcane plantations. Louis XIV's Code Noir regulated the slave institution in the colonies, it gave unparalleled rights to slaves. It included the right to gather publicly, or take Sundays off. Although the Code Noir authorized and codified cruel corporal punishment against slaves under certain conditions, it forbade slave owners to torture them or to separate families, it demanded enslaved Africans receive instruction in the Catholic faith, implying that Africans were human beings endowed with a soul, a fact French law did not admit until then. It resulted in a far higher percentage of blacks being free in 1830, they were on average exceptionally literate, with a significant number of them owning businesses and slaves.
Other free people of colour, such as Julien Raimond, spo
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the Federal Government of the United States. The legislature consists of two chambers: the House of the Senate; the Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D. C.. Both senators and representatives are chosen through direct election, though vacancies in the Senate may be filled by a gubernatorial appointment. Congress has 535 voting members: 100 senators; the House of Representatives has six non-voting members representing Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U. S. Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia in addition to its 435 voting members. Although they cannot vote in the full house, these members can address the house and vote in congressional committees, introduce legislation; the members of the House of Representatives serve two-year terms representing the people of a single constituency, known as a "district". Congressional districts are apportioned to states by population using the United States Census results, provided that each state has at least one congressional representative.
Each state, regardless of population or size, has two senators. There are 100 senators representing the 50 states; each senator is elected at-large in their state for a six-year term, with terms staggered, so every two years one-third of the Senate is up for election. To be eligible for election, a candidate must be aged at least 25 or 30, have been a citizen of the United States for seven or nine years, be an inhabitant of the state which they represent; the Congress was created by the Constitution of the United States and first met in 1789, replacing in its legislative function the Congress of the Confederation. Although not mandated, in practice since the 19th century, Congress members are affiliated with the Republican Party or with the Democratic Party and only with a third party or independents. Article One of the United States Constitution states, "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives."
The House and Senate are equal partners in the legislative process—legislation cannot be enacted without the consent of both chambers. However, the Constitution grants each chamber some unique powers; the Senate ratifies treaties and approves presidential appointments while the House initiates revenue-raising bills. The House initiates impeachment cases. A two-thirds vote of the Senate is required before an impeached person can be forcibly removed from office; the term Congress can refer to a particular meeting of the legislature. A Congress covers two years; the Congress ends on the third day of January of every odd-numbered year. Members of the Senate are referred to as senators. Scholar and representative Lee H. Hamilton asserted that the "historic mission of Congress has been to maintain freedom" and insisted it was a "driving force in American government" and a "remarkably resilient institution". Congress is the "heart and soul of our democracy", according to this view though legislators achieve the prestige or name recognition of presidents or Supreme Court justices.
One analyst argues that it is not a reactive institution but has played an active role in shaping government policy and is extraordinarily sensitive to public pressure. Several academics described Congress: Congress reflects us in all our strengths and all our weaknesses, it reflects our regional idiosyncrasies, our ethnic and racial diversity, our multitude of professions, our shadings of opinion on everything from the value of war to the war over values. Congress is the government's most representative body... Congress is charged with reconciling our many points of view on the great public policy issues of the day. Congress is changing and is in flux. In recent times, the American south and west have gained House seats according to demographic changes recorded by the census and includes more minorities and women although both groups are still underrepresented. While power balances among the different parts of government continue to change, the internal structure of Congress is important to understand along with its interactions with so-called intermediary institutions such as political parties, civic associations, interest groups, the mass media.
The Congress of the United States serves two distinct purposes that overlap: local representation to the federal government of a congressional district by representatives and a state's at-large representation to the federal government by senators. Most incumbents seek re-election, their historical likelihood of winning subsequent elections exceeds 90 percent; the historical records of the House of Representatives and the Senate are maintained by the Center for Legislative Archives, a part of the National Archives and Records Administration. Congress is directly responsible for the governing of the District of Columbia, the current seat of the federal government; the First Continental Congress was a gathering of representatives from twelve of the thirteen British Colonies in North America. On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, referring to the new nation as the "United States of America"; the Articles of Confederation in 1781 created the Congress of the Confederation, a
People driving under the influence of alcohol are referred to as drunk drivers, or drink-drivers. When charged with this as a crime, it may either be referred to as a DUI or a DWI, where a DUI is considered to be a lesser crime. Studies have been performed to identify commonalities between severe drunk drivers. Laws are in place to protect citizens from the consequences incurred by drunk drivers. According to "Why drunk drivers may get behind the wheel", a Mental Health Weekly Digest article, "lcohol-related motor vehicle accidents claim 17,000 American lives each year- the equivalent of one death every 30 minutes. An increase of blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 percent doubles the relative risk of a motor vehicle crash among 16- to 20-year-old males, that risk increases to nearly 52 times when the BAC is between 0.08 percent and 0.10 percent, the legal limits in many states." In fact "To help control the number of drunk driving episodes, states have lowered the blood alcohol content limit to.08%."
In terms of American law driving under the influence or while intoxicated "is never a defense to a crime or motor-vehicle infraction involving reckless behavior." Alcohol has a significant effect on the functions of the body which are vital to driving and being able to function. Alcohol is a depressant, which affects the function of the brain. Alcohol first affects the most vital components of the brain and "when the brain cortex is released from its functions of integrating and control, processes related to judgment and behavior occur in a disorganized fashion and the proper operation of behavioral tasks becomes disrupted." In all actuality alcohol weakens a variety of skills that are necessary to perform everyday tasks. One of the main effects of alcohol is impairing a person's ability to shift attention from one thing to another, "without impairing sensory motor functions." This indicates that people who are intoxicated are not able to properly shift their attention without affecting the senses.
People that are intoxicated have a much more narrow area of usable vision than people who are sober. The information the brain receives from the eyes "becomes disrupted if eyes must be turned to the side to detect stimuli, or if eyes must be moved from one point to another."Several testing mechanisms are used to gauge a person's ability to drive, which indicate levels of intoxication. One of these is referred to as a tracking task, testing hand–eye coordination, in which "the task is to keep an object on a prescribed path by controlling its position through turning a steering wheel. Impairment of performance is seen at BACs of as little as 0.7 milligrams per milliliter." Another form of tests is a choice reaction task, which deals more with cognitive function. In this form of testing both hearing and vision are tested and drivers must give a "response according to rules that necessitate mental processing before giving the answer." This is a useful gauge because in an actual driving situation drivers must divide their attention "between a tracking task and surveillance of the environment."
It has been found that "very low BACs are sufficient to produce significant impairment of performance" in this area of thought process. Studies suggest that a BAC of 0.01–0.04% would lower the risk, referred to as the Grand Rapids Effect or Grand Rapids Dip, based on a seminal research study by Borkenstein, et al. Some literature has attributed the Grand Rapids Effect to erroneous data or asserted that it was due to drivers exerting extra caution cautious at low BAC levels or to "experience" in drinking. Other explanations are that this effect is at least in part the blocking effect of ethanol excitotoxicity and the effect of alcohol in essential tremor and other movement disorders, but this remains speculative. A direct effect of alcohol on a person's brain is an overestimation of how their body is recovering from the effects of alcohol. A study, discussed in the article "Why drunk drivers may get behind the wheel", was done with college students in which the students were tested with "a hidden maze learning task as their BAC both rose and fell over an 8-hour period."
The researchers found through the study that as the students became more drunk there was an increase in their mistakes "and the recovery of the underlying cognitive impairments that lead to these errors is slower, more tied to the actual blood alcohol concentration, than the more rapid reduction in participants' subjective feeling of drunkenness."The participants believed that they were recovering from the adverse effects of alcohol much more than they were. This feeling of perceived recovery is a plausible explanation of why so many people feel that they are able to safely operate a motor vehicle when they are not yet recovered from the alcohol they have consumed, indicating that the recovery rates do not coincide; this thought process and brain function, lost under the influence of alcohol is a key element in regards to being able to drive safely, including "making judgments in terms of traveling through intersections or changing lanes when driving." These essential driving skills are lost.
Although situations differ and each person is unique, some common traits have been identified among drunk drivers. In the study "personality traits and mental health of severe drunk drivers in Sweden", 162 Swedish DUI offenders of all ages were studied to find links in psychological factors and characteristics
A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make laws for a political entity such as a country or city. Legislatures form important parts of most governments. Laws enacted by legislatures are known as primary legislation. Legislatures observe and steer governing actions and have exclusive authority to amend the budget or budgets involved in the process; the members of a legislature are called legislators. In a democracy, legislators are most popularly elected, although indirect election and appointment by the executive are used for bicameral legislatures featuring an upper chamber. Names for national legislatures include "parliament", "congress", "diet", "assembly", depending on country; each chamber of the legislature consists of a number of legislators who use some form of parliamentary procedure to debate political issues and vote on proposed legislation. There must be a certain number of legislators present to carry out these activities; some of the responsibilities of a legislature, such as giving first consideration to newly proposed legislation, are delegated to committees made up of a few of the members of the chamber.
The members of a legislature represent different political parties. Legislatures vary in the amount of political power they wield, compared to other political players such as judiciaries and executives. In 2009, political scientists M. Steven Fish and Matthew Kroenig constructed a Parliamentary Powers Index in an attempt to quantify the different degrees of power among national legislatures; the German Bundestag, the Italian Parliament, the Mongolian State Great Khural tied for most powerful, while Myanmar's House of Representatives and Somalia's Transitional Federal Assembly tied for least powerful. Some political systems follow the principle of legislative supremacy, which holds that the legislature is the supreme branch of government and cannot be bound by other institutions, such as the judicial branch or a written constitution; such a system renders the legislature more powerful. In parliamentary and semi-presidential systems of government, the executive is responsible to the legislature, which may remove it with a vote of no confidence.
On the other hand, according to the separation of powers doctrine, the legislature in a presidential system is considered an independent and coequal branch of government along with both the judiciary and the executive. Legislatures will sometimes delegate their legislative power to administrative or executive agencies. Legislatures are made up of individual members, known as legislators. A legislature contains a fixed number of legislators. For example, a legislature that has 100 "seats" has 100 members. By extension, an electoral district that elects a single legislator can be described as a "seat", as, example, in the phrases "safe seat" and "marginal seat". A legislature may debate and vote upon bills as a single unit, or it may be composed of multiple separate assemblies, called by various names including legislative chambers, debate chambers, houses, which debate and vote separately and have distinct powers. A legislature which operates as a single unit is unicameral, one divided into two chambers is bicameral, one divided into three chambers is tricameral.
In bicameral legislatures, one chamber is considered the upper house, while the other is considered the lower house. The two types are not rigidly different, but members of upper houses tend to be indirectly elected or appointed rather than directly elected, tend to be allocated by administrative divisions rather than by population, tend to have longer terms than members of the lower house. In some systems parliamentary systems, the upper house has less power and tends to have a more advisory role, but in others presidential systems, the upper house has equal or greater power. In federations, the upper house represents the federation's component states; this is a case with the supranational legislature of the European Union. The upper house may either contain the delegates of state governments – as in the European Union and in Germany and, before 1913, in the United States – or be elected according to a formula that grants equal representation to states with smaller populations, as is the case in Australia and the United States since 1913.
Tricameral legislatures are rare. Tetracameral legislatures no longer exist, but they were used in Scandinavia. Legislatures vary in their size. Among national legislatures, China's National People's Congress is the largest with 2 980 members, while Vatican City's Pontifical Commission is the smallest with 7. Neither legislature is democratically elected: the National People's Congress is indirectly elected. Legislature size is a trade off between representation. Comparative analysis of national legislatures has found that size of a country's lower house tends to be proportional to the cube root of its population.
Daniel Webster was an American statesman who represented New Hampshire and Massachusetts in the United States Congress and served as the United States Secretary of State under Presidents William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Millard Fillmore. He was a prominent attorney during the period of the Marshall Court. Throughout his career, he was a member of the Federalist Party, the National Republican Party, the Whig Party. Born in New Hampshire in 1782, Webster established a successful legal practice in Portsmouth, New Hampshire after undergoing a legal apprenticeship, he emerged as a prominent opponent of the War of 1812 and won election to the United States House of Representatives, where he served as a leader of the Federalist Party. Webster relocated to Boston, Massachusetts, he became a leading attorney before the Supreme Court of the United States, winning cases such as Dartmouth College v. Woodward, McCulloch v. Maryland, Gibbons v. Ogden. Webster became a key supporter of President John Quincy Adams.
He won election to the United States Senate in 1827 and worked with Henry Clay to build the National Republican Party in support of Adams. After Andrew Jackson defeated Adams in the 1828 presidential election, Webster became a leading opponent of Jackson's domestic policies, he objected to the theory of Nullification espoused by John C. Calhoun, his Second Reply to Hayne speech is regarded as one of the greatest speeches delivered in Congress. Webster supported Jackson's defiant response to the Nullification Crisis, but broke with the president due to disagreements over the Second Bank of the United States. Webster joined with other Jackson opponents in forming the Whig Party, unsuccessfully ran in the 1836 presidential election, he supported Harrison in the 1840 presidential election and was appointed secretary of state after Harrison took office. Unlike the other members of Harrison's Cabinet, he continued to serve under President Tyler after Tyler broke with congressional Whigs; as secretary of state, Webster negotiated the Webster–Ashburton Treaty, which settled border disputes with Britain.
Webster resumed his status as a leading congressional Whig. During the Mexican–American War, he emerged as a leader of the "Cotton Whigs," a faction of Northern Whigs that emphasized good relations with the South over anti-slavery policies. In 1850, President Fillmore appointed Webster as secretary of state, Webster contributed to the passage of the Compromise of 1850, which settled several territorial issues and enacted a new fugitive slave law; the Compromise proved unpopular in much of the North and undermined Webster's standing in his home state. Webster sought the Whig nomination in the 1852 presidential election, but a split between supporters of Fillmore and Webster led to the nomination of General Winfield Scott. Webster is regarded as an important and talented attorney and politician, but historians and observers have offered mixed opinions on his moral qualities and ability as a national leader. Daniel Webster was born on January 18, 1782, in Salisbury, New Hampshire, at a location within the present-day city of Franklin.
He was the son of Abigail and Ebenezer Webster, a farmer and local official who served in the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War. Ebenezer's ancestor, the Scottish-born Thomas Webster, had migrated to the United States around 1636. Ebenezer had three children from a previous marriage who survived to maturity, as well as five children from his marriage to Abigail. Webster was close to his older brother, born in 1780; as a youth, Webster helped work the family farm, but was in poor health. With the encouragement of his parents and tutors, Webster read works by authors such as Alexander Pope and Isaac Watts. In 1796, Webster attended a preparatory school in Exeter, New Hampshire. After studying the classics and other subjects for several months under a clergyman, Webster was admitted to Dartmouth College in 1797. During his time at Dartmouth, Webster managed the school newspaper and emerged as a strong public speaker, he was chosen Fourth of July orator in Hanover, the college town, in 1800, in his speech appears the substance of the political principles for the development of which he became famous.
Like his father, like many other New England farmers, Webster was devoted to the Federalist Party and favored a strong central government. Webster was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. After he graduated from Dartmouth, Webster apprenticed under Salisbury lawyer Thomas W. Thompson. Though unenthusiastic about studying the law, Webster believed that becoming a lawyer would allow him to "live comfortably" and avoid the bouts of poverty that had afflicted his father. In order to help support his brother Ezekiel's study at Dartmouth, Webster temporarily resigned from the law office to work as a schoolteacher at Fryeburg Academy in Maine. In 1804, he obtained a position in Boston under the prominent attorney Christopher Gore. Clerking for Gore –, involved in international and state politics – Webster learned about many legal and political subjects and met numerous New England politicians, he grew to love Boston. After winning admission to the bar, Webster set up a legal practice in Boscawen, New Hampshire.
He became involved in politics and began to speak locally in support of Federalist causes and candidates. After his father's death in 1806, Webster handed over his pr
The Trans-Pacific Partnership called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, is a defunct proposed trade agreement between Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States signed on 4 February 2016, not ratified as required and did not take effect. After the United States withdrew its signature, the agreement could not enter into force; the remaining nations negotiated a new trade agreement called Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which incorporates most of the provisions of the TPP and which entered into force on 30 December 2018. The TPP began as an expansion of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement signed by Brunei, New Zealand and Singapore in 2005. Beginning in 2008, additional countries joined the discussion for a broader agreement: Australia, Japan, Mexico, the United States, Vietnam, bringing the negotiating countries to twelve. In January 2017, the United States withdrew from the agreement; the other 11 TPP countries agreed in May 2017 to revive it and reached agreement in January 2018.
In March 2018, the 11 countries signed the revised version of the agreement, called Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. After ratification by six of them, the agreement came into force for those countries on 30 December 2018; the original TPP contained measures to lower both non-tariff and tariff barriers to trade, establish an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism. The U. S. International Trade Commission, the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the World Bank and the Office of the Chief Economist at Global Affairs Canada found the final agreement would, if ratified, lead to net positive economic outcomes for all signatories, while an analysis using an alternative methodology by two Tufts University economists found the agreement would adversely affect the signatories. Many observers have argued the trade deal would have served a geopolitical purpose, namely to reduce the signatories' dependence on Chinese trade and bring the signatories closer to the United States.
Twelve countries participated in negotiations for the TPP: the four parties to the 2005 Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement and eight additional countries. All twelve signed the TPP on 4 February 2016; the agreement will enter into force after ratification by all signatories, if this occurs within two years. If the agreement is not ratified by all before 4 February 2018, it will enter into force after ratification by at least 6 states which together have a GDP of more than 85% of the GDP of all signatories. On 23 January 2017, US President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum to withdraw the United States' signature from the agreement, making its ratification as it was in February 2016 impossible. On April 13, 2018, Trump said. APEC members may accede to the TPP, as may any other jurisdiction to which existing TPP members agree. After an application for membership is received, a commission of parties to the treaty negotiates conditions for accession. South Korea did not participate in the 2006 agreement, but showed interest in entering the TPP, was invited to the TPP negotiating rounds in December 2010 by the U.
S. after the successful conclusion of its Free trade agreement between the United States of America and the Republic of Korea. South Korea had bilateral trade agreements with some TPP members, but areas such as vehicle manufacturing and agriculture still needed to be agreed upon, making further multilateral TPP negotiations somewhat complicated. South Korea may join the TPP as part of a second wave of expansion for the trade agreement. Other countries and regions that are interested in TPP membership include Taiwan, the Philippines, Colombia as of 2010. According to law professor Edmund Sim in 2013, many of these countries would need to change their protectionist trade policies in order to join the TPP; the largest economy in the Pacific Rim not involved in the negotiations is China. According to the Brookings Institution in 2013, the most fundamental challenge for the TPP project regarding China was that "it may not constitute a powerful enough enticement to propel China to sign on to these new standards on trade and investment.
China so far has reacted by accelerating its own trade initiatives in Asia." In 2013, it was thought. An academic analysis has shown that while the TPP would be more successful if China participated in it, the benefits to China are intangible. In October 2015, Indonesian President Joko Widodo declared Indonesia's intention to join the TPP. Sri Lanka has announced interest of joining the TPP and is studying its feasibility. Brunei, Chile and New Zealand are parties to the Transpacific Economic Partnership Agreement, signed in 2005, entered into force in 2006; the original TPSEP agreement contains an accession clause and affirms the members' "commitment to encourage the accession to this Agreement by other economies". It is a comprehensive agreement, affecting trade in goods, rules of origin, trade remedies and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, trade in services, intellectual property, government procurement and competition policy. Among other things, it called for a 90 percent reduction of all tariffs between member countries by 1 January 2006, reduction of all trade tariffs to zero by the year 2015.
Although original and negotiating parties are members of th
Constitution of Australia
The Constitution of Australia is the supreme law under which the government of the Commonwealth of Australia operates, including its relationship to the States of Australia. It consists of several documents; the most important is the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, referred to as the "Constitution" in the remainder of this article. The Constitution was approved in a series of referendums held over 1898–1900 by the people of the Australian colonies, the approved draft was enacted as a section of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900, an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom; the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 became law on 9 July 1900, entered into force on 1 January 1901. Though the Constitution was given legal force by an Act of the United Kingdom parliament, the Australia Act 1986 removed the power of the United Kingdom parliament to change the Constitution as in force in Australia, the Constitution can now only be changed in accordance with the prescribed referendum procedures in Section 128.
Other pieces of legislation have constitutional significance for Australia. These are the Statute of Westminster, as adopted by the Commonwealth in the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942, the Australia Act 1986, passed in equivalent forms by the United Kingdom Parliament and the Australian Federal Parliament; the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act is regarded as the point at which Australia became de jure an independent nation, while the Australia Act severed all remaining constitutional links between Australia and the United Kingdom. The remaining exception is that whoever is the monarch of the United Kingdom is the monarch of Australia, although today this person Queen Elizabeth II, acts in a distinct capacity as monarch of each. Authority to interpret the Constitution lies with federal courts: with the Federal Court of Australia and the High Court of Australia; the history of the Constitution of Australia began with moves towards federation in the 19th century, which culminated in the federation of the Australian colonies to form the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
However, the Constitution has continued to develop since with two laws having significant impact on the constitutional status of the nation. In the mid-19th century, a desire to facilitate co-operation on matters of mutual interest intercolonial tariffs, led to proposals to unite the separate British colonies in Australia under a single federation. However, impetus came from Britain and there was only lacklustre local support; the smaller colonies feared domination by the larger ones. These difficulties led to the failure of several attempts to bring about federation in the 1850s and 1860s. By the 1880s, fear of the growing presence of the Germans and the French in the Pacific, coupled with a growing Australian identity, created the opportunity for establishing the first inter-colonial body, the Federal Council of Australasia, established in 1889; the Federal Council could legislate on certain subjects, but did not have a permanent secretariat, an executive, or independent source of revenue.
The absence of New South Wales, the largest colony diminished its representative value. Henry Parkes, the Premier of New South Wales, was instrumental in pushing for a series of conferences in the 1890s to discuss federalism – one in Melbourne in 1890, another in Sydney in 1891, attended by colonial leaders. By the 1891 conference, significant momentum had been built for the federalist cause, discussion turned to the proper system of government for a federal state. Under the guidance of Sir Samuel Griffith, a draft constitution was drawn up. However, these meetings lacked popular support. Furthermore, the draft constitution sidestepped certain important issues, such as tariff policy; the draft of 1891 was submitted to colonial parliaments but lapsed in New South Wales, after which the other colonies were unwilling to proceed. In 1895, the six premiers of the Australian colonies agreed to establish a new Convention by popular vote; the Convention met over the course of a year from 1897 to 1898.
The meetings produced a new draft which contained the same principles of government as the 1891 draft, but with added provisions for responsible government. To ensure popular support, the draft was presented to the electors of each colony. After one failed attempt, an amended draft was submitted to the electors of each colony except Western Australia. After ratification by the five colonies, the Bill was presented to the British Imperial Parliament with an Address requesting Queen Victoria to enact the Bill. Before the Bill was passed, one final change was made by the imperial government, upon lobbying by the Chief Justices of the colonies, so that the right to appeal from the High Court to the Privy Council on constitutional matters concerning the limits of the powers of the Commonwealth or States could not be curtailed by parliament; the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act was passed by the British Parliament in 1900. Western Australia agreed to join the Commonwealth in time for it to be an original member of the Commonwealth of Australia, established on 1 January 1901.
In 1988, the original copy of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 from the Public Record Office in London was lent to Australia for the purposes of the Australian Bicente