Media Release

7 July 2005, Paris

1981 High Court Constitutional Coup Eliminated Separation of Church and State in Australia

A n Australian academic, Max Wallace, told a conference in Paris yesterday there is no constitutional separation of church and state in Australia and New Zealand. He said a 6-1 decision of the High Court in the State Aid case was a constitutional coup by six members of the High Court who have all been knighted by the Queen. Their decision eliminated the possibility of church-state separation in Australia before the idea had a chance to take hold.

The Conference is celebrating the Centenary of the legislation formalising the separation of church and state in France in 1905.

The Conference was organised by Libre Pensee and the International Humanist and Ethical Union. Speakers from all around the world are in attendance to discuss the separation issue in their respective countries.

Max Wallace pointed out no Australian government has legislated for separation at either a Federal or State level. While all the States have constitutions the Tasmanian state is the only state where religion is mentioned and it has never been judicially tested.

He said the situation was similar in New Zealand. No Government there has legislated for separation and the Supreme Court has never had to face the question. The secular nature of New Zealand's Educations Acts have been compromised by the 1975 Private Schools Conditional Integration Act.

He said most Australians and New Zealanders would not know what the word `secular' means. He said Australians and New Zealanders have been let down firstly by academics who have not seen this serious omission in our histories and secondly by religiously compromised political parties who have allowed this serious omission to continue.

Max Wallace concluded the genie would be let out of be bottle if a politician at either State or Federal level in Australia, or nationally in New Zealand, moved a private member's bill to create separation of church and state.

Until and unless that happens, Australia and New Zealand will remain multiple-church-recognition soft theocracies. This state of affairs plays into the hands of Christian inspired political parties who want to move our countries in the Religious Right direction of the United states.

Also, there is no point in Australia and New Zealand becoming Republics if we do not separate church and state. We would effectively be Christian Republics. That would be offensive to those of us who are not Christian or who have no religious belief at all which is very likely many more than the 25 per cent of our populations calculated from misleading census questions.

Max Wallace, Canberra academic.