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Alteration of the Limits of States.

It has been seen, that the preservation of the territory of the federating Colonies was a primary condition of the union, and intercolonial suspicion led to this security being sought in very remarkable terms.

Section 123 confers power upon The Parliament to increase, diminish, or otherwise alter the limits of a State; but requires, that, for such alteration, as well as for the arrangements incident thereto, the consent shall be obtained not merely of the ordinary authority therein—the Parliament of the State—but of the electors of the State. The result is very curious. The State Parliament may, without any consent of Electors, diminish its territory; for it is expressly authorized by section 111 to surrender any part of the State to the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Parliament may immediately transfer the territory so surrendered to another State; but, in order to make the transfer good, the Electors, as well as the Parliament of the


  ― 315 ―
State receiving the accession of territory, must assent to the “increase” of “its limits.” Again, by section 124, a State, without any approval of Electors, may be cut asunder and made into two or more States, or may lose its separate existence altogether by union with another State—in either case, no more than the concurrence of the State Parliament and the Commonwealth Parliament is required.

It may be doubted, whether the powers referred to exclude all other modes of dealing with the boundaries of the States. The Colonial Boundaries Act, 1895, is not applicable to the States (section viii. of the Act). But there are several other statutory provisions affecting the boundaries of the Australian Colonies, and it is by no means clear, that they all merge in, and are extinguished by, the provisions of the Commonwealth Constitution.note Thus, it may still be competent for the legislature of New South Wales and Victoria, by laws passed in concurrence with each other, to define in any manner different from that contained in 18 and 19 Victoria, c. 54, the boundary line of the two colonies along the course of the river Murray. Again, by the 24 and 25 Victoria, c. 44 § 5, the Governors of contiguous colonies on the Australian continent may, with the advice of their Executive Councils, determine or alter the common boundaries of such colonies, and, on the proclamation of the Crown, such boundaries as altered shall become the true boundaries of the colonies; and, by section 6, provision is made for appointing the public debt, and making other necessary arrangements on the rectification. And, while it may be assumed, that the various provisions, enabling the Crown to establish new colonies in Australia by separation from existing colonies, are either spent or repealed by implication, it does not appear certain, that the power of the Crown to annex portions of one colony to another (as under the Western Australian Constitution Act, 1890, section 6) is consumed and extinguished by the Constitution.

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