This paper argues that the focus on the identity of the head of state which has characterised the Australian republican debate fundamentally misses the point about Australian sovereignty and independence. It is not the foreign status of the British head of state. but the imperial status of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK) which is the fundamental limitation on Australian sovereignty. This is so despite the High Court judgments emerging in the wake of the Australia Acts of 1986 which proclaim that Australian sovereignty now resides entirely with the Australian people. Such judgments may have legality within Commonwealth law but they are fundamentally irrational in terms of the wider constitutional tradition of which they are a part. This is because they violate the hermeneutic limits which provide the rational framework for all High Court judgments. This paper therefore concludes that, ultimately, the only way that the evolution of Australian legal independence from Britain can actually produce a revolution in sovereignty is if there is an alteration of the ultimate rules of recognition of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK) at referendum.
Monash University Law Review Vol. 27, Issue 1, p. 21-77