Republic? More Power For Politicians (p8 of 11)
CONSEQUENCES OF INDEPENDENCE
Australia's undoubted independence has been the cause of a dangerous and destructive campaign of misinformation. This campaign started with a series of letters to local newspapers signed with various nom-de plumes but all with the surname of Murphy. The thrust of the letters was that Australia became independent on signing the Charter of the League of Nations. Therefore, it was claimed, all laws predating 20 January 1920 are automatically void and of no effect. This claim, of course, included the Constitution. All Commonwealth Acts and Regulations depend for their validity on the validity of the Constitution because, without the Constitution, the very existence of the Commonwealth as a legal entity with power to make laws does not exist.
The concept of the Murphy Letters has become very attractive for people seeking to escape the effect of Commonwealth laws (and State laws too), particularly taxation. A campaign through various special interest newspapers, other publications and word of mouth has attracted large crowds to meetings, specially in Queensland. Claims that no lawyers in Victoria are paying their taxes, the Taxation Department is not proceeding against people who fail to pay tax or lodge returns, even parking fines can be avoided, and so on are being made. It is being said that many Court judgments have already been given upholding the claims of the Murphy Letters.
An exhaustive search of Court records reveals that the Murphy Letters principle has been argued in many cases but does not reveal the argument has been successful in any. In some cases the 'judge' has realised he has no jurisdiction to decide constitutional principles and has adjourned the matter for hearing in higher courts, in others jugment has been given against the litigant and the litigant has appealed, while in others there has been judgment against the litigant and there has been no appeal. A number of appeals have been lodged but none of them, it seems, is being progressed by the appellant. This is not surprising as appeals are expensive and the chance of success on the basis of the Murphy Letters principle is non-existent.Four such cases have, however, reached the High Court .
- Burke v R criminal charge of deception and presenting false documents;
- Joose v ASIC breaches of corporations law
- Bowers v Askin claim for negligence at common law
- Young v DCT payment of tax
The High Court (Hayne J) held in all four cases that the Murphy Letters principle is not arguable Joose v ASIC  159 ALR 260).
The significance of the Murphy Letters principle for the forthcoming Referendum is that some people who have been influenced by the false principle are campaigning for an informal vote. They say that the hidden purpose behind the Referendum in November is to establish a 'new' Constitution for Australia, thereby, overcoming the imagined problem of there being no enforceable law in Australia. They say that the result of the Referendum, "Yes" or "No", will legally entrench a flawed and unjust system of law (particularly taxation).
A variation on the theme of the need for an informal vote is being pressed by another group who claim to have developed a system of government that is better than either the present one or the proposed Republic. They say the way to achieve their scheme is for a majority of voters to place a large capital letter and a number on the ballot paper and to refrain from voting "No" or "Yes".
Of course, both groups are misguided. The only choices open at this Referendum are to retain the present system or to replace it with the kind of Republic proposed in the Bill to change the Constitution.
Written and authorised by Dr David Mitchell,
18 Proctors Rd. Dynnyrne, Tasmania 7005
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