Handshakes and racism

The framers of the Constitution were mainly concerned with the financial and trade issues arising from Federation and how best to weight the interests of the small States against those of the more populous states in the new federal Parliament. In these and other areas they adapted provisions from the United States Constitution. However, they did not include a Bill of Rights.

— Tony Blackshield and George Williams, Australian Constitutional Law and Theory (Federation Press, 5th Edition, 2010) 125.

Australia’s Constitution is distinguished among those of modern democracies in several ways. Most obviously, it is one of the few examples of a Westminster Parliament operating within a federal system, modelling its Lower House of Parliament on the British House of Commons and the Upper House on the American Senate.

The drafters of the Constitution made the amendment process so complicated that proposals to amend it are more likely to fail than to pass. The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (Imp) has been modified only eight times since it came into force in 1901. As a result, they also managed to preserve two great traditions of the British Empire: handshakes and racism.

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