Constitution Amendment (Restoration of Oaths of Allegiance) Bill 2011



About this Item
SpeakersVoltz The Hon Lynda; Shoebridge Mr David; Nile Reverend The Hon Fred; Kaye Dr John; Moselmane The Hon Shaoquett; Foley The Hon Luke; Deputy-President (The Hon Jennifer Gardiner)
BusinessBill, Division, Message, Second Reading, Third Reading, In Committee, Motion, Report Adopted



CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT (RESTORATION OF OATHS OF ALLEGIANCE) BILL 2011
Page: 7828

Second Reading

Debate resumed from an earlier hour.

The Hon. LYNDA VOLTZ [4.01 p.m.]: The Opposition opposes the Constitution Amendment (Restoration of Oaths of Allegiance) Bill 2011. Labor believes that the oath of allegiance should be directed to those whom we represent. The reforms made in 2006 to direct the oath of allegiance to the people of this nation were appropriate, and are reflected in the oath that is taken by our new citizens. Many members have spoken in this debate of their views as to the monarchy and our head of State. Whilst I do not necessarily agree with those views, I do not expect everyone to share my world view. I acknowledge that in this place a range of views are held as to how the world is perceived, but the reality is that members in this place should direct their allegiance to the people they represent—the people of Australia and New South Wales.

The Hon. Marie Ficarra said that the number of people who watched the marriage of Prince William to Catherine Middleton and the number of people who watched the marriage of Prince Frederick to Mary Donaldson was some evidence of the views of the people of New South Wales. That view could be extended to include the number of people who watched the marriage of Kim Kardashian to Kris Humphries. Some members in this place confuse the cult of celebrity with our democratic system of government. Members are elected to represent the people of Australia and the oath of allegiance taken by members duly reflects that role. This is not a republican or monarchist debate; this is a debate about the role of this place to represent the best interests of the people of Australia and New South Wales. The changes made in 2006 reflected that view.

Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE [4.04 p.m.]: I commend the words of my colleague Dr John Kaye and those of the Opposition in opposing the Constitution Amendment (Restoration of Oaths of Allegiance) Bill 2011. Members in this Chamber were elected by the people of New South Wales to represent their best interests and those of the people of Australia. When taking office members should swear allegiance to the people of New South Wales and Australia and recognise them as the ultimate authority. It comes from the people and not from a monarch. For that reason, if for no other, The Greens oppose the bill.

Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE [4.05 p.m.], in reply: I thank all members who made a contribution to this debate. I particularly thank those who have supported the bill—the Hon. Marie Ficarra, the Hon. David Clarke and the Hon. Trevor Khan. But I also thank those who opposed the bill because it is good for democracy to have members participate in debate. Some members may be surprised to know—because many are new—that I was first sworn into this Parliament on 28 October 1981. When I took the oath of allegiance the Legislative Council presented me with a Bible. This is that Bible and inside the front cover is the oath of allegiance I took, together with my signature. For the benefit of Labor members, it was signed by the three commissioners—Johno Johnson, Paul Landa and Clive Healy—and reads:

      I Frederick John Nile do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors according to law. So help me God.
I am happy for members to look at that Bible as it is quite unique. I hope the Government will consider re-establishing that custom. Members of the Muslim religion, for instance, may not want to be given a copy of the holy Bible, which includes the Old Testament and the New Testament, but others may like one.

The Leader of the Opposition and the Hon. Lynda Voltz raised the republicanism argument, which was quite misleading. This bill has nothing to do with that. That was the pattern of behaviour of the former Government. In 2006 the oath of allegiance was removed, the Governor was removed from Government House and the portraits that were signed by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were removed from the Parliamentary Dining Room, which I refer to as sneaky republicanism. In spite of the will of the people being expressed through a democratic referendum, the former Labor Government was directly overriding the will of the people. The former Labor Government tried through stealth to change our status to that of a republic—and removing the oath of allegiance was a key factor in that process.

In his contribution to debate on an earlier bill, Mr David Shoebridge used the words "claimed by the Crown" on a number of occasions without realising their potential impact. Those words remind us that we are a constitutional monarchy and that the Crown is part of our legislative process. This bill will restore the status quo that operated in this State from 1823 in the Legislative Council and from 1856 in the Legislative Assembly when all members took an oath of allegiance. That was the normal custom. This bill also restores the unity of our nation, because all the other States and, most importantly, the Commonwealth have the oath of allegiance. Earlier I interjected and said that Labor members should talk to the Prime Minister because the Commonwealth has the oath of allegiance. Until this bill is passed, New South Wales remains out of step with all the other States and the Commonwealth.

The bill restores the unity of the Commonwealth and State governments that have an oath of allegiance, which is important. For those who are still confused about the role of the Queen or the Crown, it was explained in the second reading speech and I will not detail it now. The Crown represents the people; the Crown is there to defend the people. Our Constitution has a Governor-General and a Governor, who have no power other than to uphold the Constitution and to ensure that governments are honest. The constitutional monarchy protects the rights of the people. This bill is not anti-people; it is pro people. With this historic vote, which I trust will be supported by at least a majority of members, it is important that we restore the oath of allegiance to its rightful place in New South Wales.

Question—That this bill be now read a second time—put.

The House divided.
Ayes, 21
Mr Ajaka
Mr Blair
Mr Borsak
Mr Brown
Mr Clarke
Ms Ficarra
Mr Gallacher
Miss Gardiner
Mr Gay
Mr Green
Mr Khan
Mr Lynn
Mr MacDonald
Mrs Maclaren-Jones
Mr Mason-Cox
Mrs Mitchell
Reverend Nile
Mrs Pavey
Mr Pearce


Tellers,
Mr Colless
Dr Phelps

Noes, 18
Ms Barham
Mr Buckingham
Ms Cotsis
Mr Donnelly
Ms Faehrmann
Mr Foley
Dr Kaye
Mr Moselmane
Mr Primrose
Mr Searle
Mr Secord
Ms Sharpe
Mr Shoebridge
Mr Veitch
Ms Westwood
Mr Whan


Tellers,
Ms Fazio
Ms Voltz

Pair

Ms CusackMr Roozendaal
Question resolved in the affirmative.
    Motion agreed to.
      Bill read a second time.

      In Committee

      Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
        Dr JOHN KAYE [4.22 p.m.], by leave: I move The Greens amendments numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 on sheet C2011-138 in globo:
            No. 1 Page 3, schedule 1 [1], lines 3–5. Omit all words on those lines.

            No. 2 Page 3, schedule 1 [2]. Insert after line 7:
                (4) A Member may, in addition to taking the pledge of loyalty, take an oath of allegiance before the Governor or other person authorised by the Governor for that purpose.

            No. 3 Page 3, schedule 1 [3], lines 19–21. Omit all words on those lines.

            No. 4 Page 3, schedule 1 [4]. Insert after line 23:
                (3A) A member of the Executive Council may, in addition to taking the pledge of loyalty, take an oath of allegiance before the Governor or other person authorised by the Governor for that purpose.
        These amendments will require all members to pledge their loyalty or to take an oath of allegiance to the people of New South Wales and Australia, as they currently do and, if they wish to do so, to convert their allegiance to the Queen or to others, which will be an optional extra. These amendments will ensure that every member of this Chamber is loyal, first and foremost, to the people of New South Wales and Australia. In debate on the second reading and also when replying to debate on this bill Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile again canvassed that issue. He believes—and clearly he has a right to believe—that pledging loyalty to the Queen is equivalent to pledging loyalty to the people of New South Wales and Australia. He sees it not as pledging loyalty to an individual but rather pledging loyalty to an institution—

        Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile: Which represents the people.

        Dr JOHN KAYE: —which represents the people of New South Wales. That logic is extremely interesting because to me representation involves some kind of voting or some kind of act of choice.

        The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: You are being obtuse.

        Dr JOHN KAYE: I note that the member, who knows me well, said I was being obtuse. I do not think I am being obtuse. I think that is an important point. I do not think that a secondary loyalty, as expressed through an institution or an individual, is any substitute for a primary expression of loyalty. By moving these amendments I am not seeking to take away the ability of Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile, the Leader of the House, the Hon. Duncan Gay, anybody else—

        The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: Or the Government Whip.

        Dr JOHN KAYE: —or the Government Whip, to pledge loyalty to the Queen if they wish to do so. These amendments will not remove their right to do so; they will make it clear that they can do both. These amendments will give them a choice.

        The Hon. Marie Ficarra: It is unnecessary.

        Dr JOHN KAYE: The Hon. Marie Ficarra said that it is unnecessary, but for me and for many Australians this is an important issue.

        The Hon. Marie Ficarra: You are just trying to distort it.

        Dr JOHN KAYE: I am not trying to distort the issue. It is important for many Australians, and for me, to know that the people they elected have their primary allegiance to them and not to a foreign monarch. These amendments do not seek to take away the right of Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile, the Hon. Duncan Gay or anybody else who is re-elected to this Parliament to express publicly their loyalty to the Queen. These amendments will require them to ensure that they also express loyalty to the people of New South Wales and Australia. I commend The Greens amendments to the Committee.

        The Hon. SHAOQUETT MOSELMANE [4.26 p.m.]: I place on record my opposition to the Constitution Amendment (Restoration of Oaths of Allegiance) Bill 2011, which is being debated because of a deal struck between the Government and members of the Christian Democratic Party. Earlier when I was looking at the website of the Christian Democratic Party I noted a press release of Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile which states:
            Constitutional Oath Makes a Comeback.

        The second paragraph of that press release states—

        The Hon. Trevor Khan: Are you speaking to the amendments?

        The Hon. SHAOQUETT MOSELMANE: Yes, I am speaking to the amendments. The second paragraph of that press release states:
            Amid constant interjections from the NSW Greens and the Left faction of the ALP, Rev Nile was noticeably delighted that 'many years of progressing Republicanism had been reversed'.
        Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile obviously knew in advance what would be the outcome of any motion that he moved to suspend standing orders to bring on debate on his private member's bill.

        Dr John Kaye: What date is that?

        The Hon. SHAOQUETT MOSELMANE: The press release is dated 11 November, which is 13 or 14 days ago. Unless I am mistaken, a deal has been done or Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile received a message from God that his bill would be debated tonight. I wanted to draw that to the attention of members.

        The Hon. LUKE FOLEY (Leader of the Opposition) [4.28 p.m.]: I add to the comments made by my colleague the Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane about The Greens amendments. Opposition members do not support the amendments moved by Dr Kaye for the simple reason that we support the status quo, that is, the law as changed by the Parliament in 2006, which we prefer and which we unsuccessfully defended today. However, we stand by our 2006 reforms and, as such, will not be voting for any changes to the law concerning pledges or oaths taken by new members.

        Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE [4.29 p.m.]: I support the amendment moved by my colleague Dr John Kaye. It is unusual to see the Labor Opposition adopting a sort of dog in the manger approach to this issue. If they cannot get everything they want they will not agree to any improvements to what obviously is a poor bill. Every person who is elected to this Chamber should swear his or her loyalty to the people of New South Wales and Australia, which is the intent of these amendments. The people of New South Wales elect us and they are the ones from whom we get our authority. It is unfortunate that Government members are supporting legislation introduced by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile which will result in people being elected to this House and not swearing their loyalty to those who elected them.

        The Government is supporting the bill introduced by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile in order to buy his vote on another key piece of legislation—the Police Amendment (Death and Disability) Bill 2011. We know from the contribution of the Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane that as long ago as 11 November Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile got his 30 pieces of silver. He said in his 11 November press release that he knew the Government would support his bill. Government members might not like it but that is the reality and that is why they are supporting Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile.

        Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile: Point of order: I ask the member to withdraw the offensive remark that I have sold myself for 30 pieces of silver. As a Christian I take great offence to that.

        Dr John Kaye: To the point of order: The allegation was not necessarily directed at Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile alone. It was also directed at the Government.

        The Hon. Duncan Gay: To the point of order: There is nothing more offensive to a man of the cloth than to use the Judas example of 30 pieces of silver. It is clearly offensive to Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile and the member should withdraw.

        Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile says that he has taken offence and, therefore, I will withdraw the comment. I accept that it is not the purpose of debate to personally offend people. However, it is clear that as of 11 November Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile knew he had the Government in his pocket on this because he put out a press release stating that he knew for certain that this bill would become law. It could become law only with the support of the Coalition. How is it that Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile knew so long ago that his bill would become law?

        The arrangement has never been explained. This member not only has support for his bill but also Government support to put his bill ahead of, for example, important legislation such as the Police Amendment (Death and Disability) Bill 2011. How did he know he would obtain the Government's support to advance his bill ahead of something as crucial as police death and disability—and he knew this as long ago as 11 November? No reason has been advanced as to why this bill should be debated at such a crucial time when there is other important business to be dealt with. The amendment should be supported. The Government would have more credence if it supported the amendment to allow those elected to swear their loyalty to the people of New South Wales, not just to a monarch on the far side of this planet.

        Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE [4.32 p.m.]: As the person who introduced the bill, I oppose the amendment. The bill was carefully drafted to allow members a genuine choice. Members who wish to take that pledge can still do so; no-one is preventing them from doing that. They now have an option. The bill now provides that members who wish to be consistent with our State Constitution and our Commonwealth Constitution can take the oath of allegiance. As to the date of the media release, we had a debate on this bill when I sought to bring it on. We had to have a second reading debate, so we had the numbers. Anybody—even blind Freddy—could see that we had the numbers to pass the bill.

        Dr JOHN KAYE [4.33 p.m.]: Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile says that under the bill there will be a choice. It can only be described as a choice in the deeply dichotomous world of A or B. It is a binary choice. One chooses a republic, the people or the monarch.

        Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile: Where is the dichotomy?

        Dr JOHN KAYE: Reverend Nile would know that the word "republic" is a bastardisation of the Latin "res publica", which means "things of the public".

        Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile: It is a Freudian slip.

        Dr JOHN KAYE: There is nothing Freudian about it. I have never hidden my commitment to a republic.

        The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: A Soviet socialist republic.

        Dr JOHN KAYE: Indeed, the word "republic" comes from the Latin "res" meaning things and "publica", meaning public. It comes about—

        The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Jennifer Gardiner): Order! One member will speak at a time.

        Dr JOHN KAYE: If there is to be real choice, it should be whether one declares his or her allegiance to the monarchy. The underlying commitment should be to the people of New South Wales. I am genuinely concerned about what the bill will do for people such as the Hon. Duncan Gay. When presumably he is re-elected—no doubt he will stand again and again; he is well known for his political immortality—he will have a Hobson's choice: a choice between the people of New South Wales and the monarch. He is well known as a monarchist. He does not hide that fact, but I imagine he would have some commitment to the people of New South Wales and wish to express commitment to both. The amendment gives him a far richer palate of choices than provided in the bill.

        Question—That The Greens amendments Nos 1 to 4 [C2011-138] be agreed to—put.

        The Committee divided.
        Ayes, 5
        Ms Barham
        Ms Faehrmann
        Mr Shoebridge

        Tellers,
        Mr Buckingham
        Dr Kaye
        Noes, 32
            Mr Ajaka
            Mr Blair
            Mr Borsak
            Mr Brown
            Mr Clarke
            Ms Cotsis
            Mr Donnelly
            Ms Ficarra
            Mr Foley
            Mr Gay
            Mr Green
            Mr Harwin
            Mr Khan
            Mr Lynn
            Mr MacDonald
            Mrs Maclaren-Jones
            Mr Mason-Cox
            Mrs Mitchell
            Mr Moselmane
            Reverend Nile
            Mrs Pavey
            Mr Primrose
            Mr Roozendaal
            Mr Searle
            Mr Secord
            Ms Sharpe
            Mr Veitch
            Ms Voltz
            Ms Westwood
            Mr Whan
            Tellers,
            Mr Colless
            Dr Phelps
        Question resolved in the negative.
          The Greens amendments Nos 1 to 4 [C2011-138] negatived.
            Schedule 1 agreed to.
              Title agreed to.
                Bill reported from Committee without amendment.
                  Adoption of Report
                    Motion by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile agreed to:

                        That the report be adopted.
                    Report adopted.
                      Third Reading
                        Motion by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile agreed to:

                            That this bill be now read a third time.
                        Bill read a third time and transmitted to the Legislative Assembly with a message seeking its concurrence in the bill.
                          [The President left the chair at 4.48 p.m. The House resumed at 8.00 p.m.]