CONSTITUTIONAL POWERS AND CALL FOR REFERENDUM. (Letters to Premiers lemma and Beattie).
You are absolutely right to resist the Federal takeover of powers over water. Prime Minister Howard's move is not so much a spat with the States as an attack on the people.
Article 100 of the Constitution says: "The Commonwealth shall NOT, by any law or
regulation of trade or commerce, abridge the right of a State, or of the residents therein, to the waters of rivers for conservation or irrigation."
If Mr. Howard believes the drought has created sufficient reason for a transfer of powers, the Constitution provides the formula for such a procedure - a referendum of the Australian people under Article 128 of the Constitution In 1942 a similar attempt was made, under the excuse of wartime emergency, topersuade the States to transfer 14 powers to Canberra. Every State agreed, with the exception of the Upper House in the smallest State, Tasmania. The leader of the Upper House, one-time Test Cricket Captain Joe Darling, bluntly told Federal Attorney-General Dr. H. V. Evatt to go back to Canberra and hold a Constitutional referendum, as was his duty. Tasmania and Joe Darling were attacked for hindering the war effort, but stood firm. Frustrated, Dr. Evatt was finally forced to hold the famous "14powers-referendum" in 1944. There was a massive vote "NO" in every State, with the biggest vote against in Tasmania.
It is always under threat of crisis or emergency that the Commonwealth seeks to by-pass the Constitution.
Water trading on the Stock Exchange, the separation of water and land titles, the foreign and corporate "ownership" of water, the blasphemous claim that "ownership of all water is vested in the State", and the transfer of power over water from the States to the Commonwealth are all ultra vices and should not be contemplated without the people's consent. This, as Mr. Howard knows, is both the letter and the spirit of the Constitution, and to disregard it is an abuse of power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely!
Is this why tuition on the Constitution and its history has been weeded out of the school curriculum? We should all write to our political representative and State Premier, objecting to this power-grab by John Howard. Surely the Commonwealth and the States could agree to work together for the GOOD OF ALL the Australian people without the States handing over their Constitutional powers over water?
Ask Mr. Howard, is he threatening he will withhold the finances IF the States don't hand over their Constitutional powers to the Commonwealth? Just whose money does he think he is handling?
Kind regards, Phil Tzavellas