Winning Entries to the 2014 Regional Essay Competition
2014 Division 1 (15-18 years) Winner
“Why do governments and organisations have constitutions? Explain, with examples, their functions in areas such as sport, community organisations and government.”
Riley de Jong (Toowoomba Grammar School)
Constitutions are the laws and rules which underpin the operation of an organisation. They may be written or unwritten, but their purpose remains the same; to effectively establish a basis for governance and order through defining roles, responsibilities and the amount of power granted to judicial, legislative and executive authorities (Mason, 2002). In addition, they regulate behaviour and provide sanctions for breaches of their clauses. On the purpose of constitutions, constitutional scholar David Fellman writes, “Constitutionalism subjects the officials to a higher law. It proclaims the desirability of Rule of Law as opposed to rule by the arbitrary judgement of public officials… the touchstone of constitutionalism is the concept of governance under higher law” (Wikipedia, 2014). Essentially, constitutions provide fair, effective governance of any organisation, by ensuring there are specific structure and organisation in place, by protecting the interests and liberties of all members, including those in minorities, and providing guidelines for dealing with unconstitutional behaviour. Without constitutions, our organised society would regress into a state of anarchy where Rule of Law is superseded by a style of ‘majority rules’.
Constitutions exist in many forms, and in most social organisations. Of course their contents and structure will differ depending on the organisation to which they apply. The most obvious examples of constitutions can be found in those of sports, governments, and community organisations and company/corporate structure.
In relation to sport, constitutionalism can be seen most obviously as the set of playing rules by which players, spectators and officials must abide by if they wish to participate. These rules set out how the game is to be played, how a winner is determined and provide penalties or sanctions for players who do not play to the stipulated rules. They are standardised for all players and teams, and are universally applied. For example, the rules of a game of football will remain constant regardless of where it is played. This allows the game to be played smoothly, and reduces any confusion as to what the rules are. These constitutions, in the form of rules, has allowed modern sport to evolve as teams are able to compete against each other, knowing that the rules exist and are fair (ACM Toowoomba, 2002). This form of constitution also provides for umpires and referees to act as an overseer of the sport and a judge of any behaviour which is against the rules or disputes that arise between teams. Therefore, in sport, constitutions ‘constitute’ how the game is to be played, and the consequences for not playing by these rules, creating a structured game free from disorder and unruly behaviour.
In Government, the constitution is a guide for how the state is to be run. It sets out government structure, the interaction between state and federal governments and the separation of powers between government and heads of state. The Australian Constitution, which came into effect in 1901, sets out the structure of the Parliamentary System (Mason, 2002). It is particularly important for listing the separation of powers between different levels of Government, our Head of State, the Governor-General, and the judicial system. In doing so, it ensures that the Government is never above the law and must answer to the Head-of-State. The Constitution assists in holding the Government accountable for its actions and setting stable procedures that cannot be easily changed at the whim of the ruling party. Constitutions separate power from authority, creating a system whereby all leaders of the Government are answerable to higher powers (ACM Toowoomba, 2002). The event which is salient in the minds of Australian’s regarding the role of the Constitution and more specifically the separation of powers is that of the Dismissal of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam by the Governor-General of the time Sir John Kerr in 1975. Whitlam’s government had lost the support of the Australian electorate, and the Parliament was in a state of political stalemate, and as such the Governor-General, using the powers vested in him under the Australian Constitution, intervened and dismissed Whitlam’s government, calling a double-dissolution bill election to allow the Australian public to decide on the issue (Mason, 2002), preventing the potentially damaging political storm from spilling from the proverbial teacup. This was a prime example of the constitution assisting in upholding the Rule of Law even within the Government itself and preventing a state of political anarchy from arising, as has happened in many political states which do not have the benefit of a constitution like Australia’s.
Finally, constitutions can be seen in operation within community organisations and corporate structures. Within these organisations, constitutions contain the fundamental principles which govern their operation. An organisation’s constitution is responsible for clarifying the central purpose of the organisation and outlining its basic structure and modus operandi, or ‘method of operating’. This gives members a greater understanding of the direction and function of the organisation, and their own purpose within the organisation to help it achieve its aims. This in turn promotes a more united, goal-orientated organisation which is committed to achieving its function/purpose as outlined in its constitution (Holden Leadership Centre, 2009). Without a guiding document such as a formal constitution, organisations would not be able to function to their highest potential or effectiveness.
In conclusion, William Hamilton summarises the importance of constitutions in modern societal organisations in saying, “Constitutionalism is the name given to the trust which men repose in the power of words engrossed on parchment to keep a government in order” (Wikipedia, 2014). Without constitutions, organisations would surely relapse into a state of anarchy where the Rule of Law is not respected, and is instead replaced by a form of ‘majority rules’ where only those in the majority or with authority have power.
Riley de Jong
Australian’s for Constitutional Monarchy, 2002, Constitutions [ONLINE] Accessed 12/4/14 www.ourconstitution.org/about_constitutions.php
Australian’s for Constitutional Monarchy, n.d., Laws are Means to an End [ONLINE] Accessed 11/4/14 www.ourconstitution.org/the-rule-of-law.php
Brett, J, 2011, The Australian Constitution [ONLINE] Accessed 10/4/14 www.ourconstitution.org/brett_australian_constitution_11_11.php
Constitution (Politics), Microsoft Encarta Encyclopaedia [DVD] Microsoft Corporation, 2007
Holden Leadership Centre, University of Oregon, 2009, Constitutions and Bylaws [ONLINE] Accessed 10/4/14 leadership.uoregon.edu/resources/exercises_tips/organization/constitutions_and_bylaws
Mason, K, 2002, Experience of Nationhood: Modern Australia Since 1901 (4th Ed.), McGraw-Hill Australia, New South Wales, Australia
Watson, D, n.d., Constitution, British, Microsoft Encarta Encyclopaedia [DVD] Microsoft Corporation, 2007
Wikipedia, 2014, Constitution [ONLINE] Accessed 10/4/14 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution
Wikipedia, 2014, Constitutionalsim [ONLINE] Accessed 11/4/14 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitutionalism
2014 Division 2 (11-14 years) Winner
“How is Prince Harry developing his career and interests? What leadership roles would you suggest for him if he came to live in Australia?”
Ellie de Jong (The Glennie School)
Prince Harry, formerly known as Prince Henry of Wales, is developing his career in many ways through his involvement in the military and several charities. Prince Harry is the younger son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Harry grew up learning from both of his parents about their involvement in charities, and service to the community.
After acquiring a good education at school, Prince Harry attended the Royal Military Academy where he established his skills in leadership. At the completion of a 44-week training course as an Officer Cadet, he was appointed as a Second Lieutenant in the Household Cavalry. In 2008, Harry completed more than two months service with the British Army in the Helmand province, Afghanistan, as a Forward Air Controller for NATO forces. He was then promoted from Second Lieutenant to Lieutenant.
In 2009, he started a two and a half year training course in order to become a fully-operational, full-time Army Air Corps helicopter pilot. This included spending four months as an Officer in Afghanistan, conducting an operational tour as an Apache pilot.
Captain Harry Wales, as he is known in the military now holds two honorary military titles in the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. He is currently a full-time Apache helicopter Pilot with the Army Air Corps and he has qualified as an Apache Aircraft Commander.
As well as his military involvement, Prince Harry is also immersed in Charity Work. His first charity work was being a co-founder of the charity ‘Sentebale’, in memory of his mother. This Charity raises awareness and supports orphans and vulnerable children in Lesotho. He is also currently Patron of a number of other charities and organisations. The charities that he is involved in help us to understand the sort of things that he cares about. Some of these things include helping young people, making people more aware of helping the Armed Forces, helping communities to look after their natural resources such as having clean water in the future.
More of his interests, shown in his continued involvement in other charities, are looking after orphans in Africa and looking after people with diseases like HIV/ AIDS. He also developed a documentary to raise funds and awareness for his charity ‘Sentebale’.
Prince Harry is also a keen sportsman and some of his sporting interests include things such as rugby, skiing, motorbike riding and polo. He participates in polo matches regularly, both to raise money for charities and competitive matches. Harry is Patron of the Rugby Football Union Injured Players Foundation which supports players who have been injured playing rugby.
Prince Harry would fit in really well in Australia due to his happy, easy-going attitude and his commitment to work and helping the community. To pursue his interests in Australia, Prince Harry could undertake a number of jobs and leadership roles. For example, he could undertake a role in the Australian Military or Air Force, as he is experienced in both these positions. He could join charity organisations such as the Salvation Army to continue engaging in charitable work. Prince Harry could carry out official duties in Australia. As a representative of the Royal Family and the Queen, Prince Harry displays the beliefs and morals of the Royal Family. He could help shape Australia’s democracy and the country that people believe has been made great by the fact that it is a democratic country and is part of the Commonwealth.
In conclusion, if Prince Harry were to come to Australia, he could undertake many leadership roles that could greatly benefit and shape our country’ democracy and beliefs. In doing this, he could also undertake jobs to continue following his interests. Prince Harry is an energetic, young member and representative of the Royal Family and could help our country advance our system of government and our democracy.
Ellie de Jong
Prince Harry, n.d., The British Monarchy, accessed 2 April 2014, www.royal.gov.uk/ThecurrentRoyalFamily/PrinceHarry/PrinceHarry.aspx.
Biography, 2014, Prince Harry, accessed 2 April 2014, www.princehenryofwales.org/prince-harry/biography.
What is a constitutional Monarchy?, n.d., The British Monarchy, accessed 2 April 2014, https://www.royal.gov.uk/MonarchUK/HowtheMonarchyworks/Whatisconstitutionalmonarchy.aspx.
The Role of the Royal Family, n.d., The British Monarchy, accessed 2 April 2014, www.royal.gov.uk/MonarchUK/HowtheMonarchyworks/TheroleoftheRoyalFamily.aspx.
Prince Harry, 2014, Wikipedia, accessed 2 April 2014, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Harry.
Prince Harry, 2013, Photograph, New Jersey 101.5, accessed 2 April 2014, //nj1015.com/christie-may-not-need-to-babysit-prince-harry/.
Prince Harry and little boy, n.d., Photograph, Just Jared, accessed 2 April 2014, www.justjared.com/photo-gallery/2821891/prince-harry-sentebale-gala-dinner-11/fullsize/.