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The Exclusive Power of the Parliament.

Section 52. “The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have exclusive power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:

i. “The seat of Government of the Commonwealth, and all places acquired by the Commonwealth for public purposes.”

This has been already referred to in chapter iii. on “The Nature and Authority of the Federal Commonwealth,” under the head of “The territory of the Commonwealth”; and it has been pointed out that according to the American decisions the exclusive power of legislation over a place carries with it exclusive jurisdiction. Persons residing


  ― 163 ―
within it are not residents in any State; and are not entitled to vote as citizens of a State at any election.note Such territory and its government are without the most characteristic feature of a federation—the division of power between central and local governments; and the territory stands outside the “federal” arrangements of the Constitution, which adjusts the relations of the States. “Territory so placed becomes as extraneous to the State as if it were held by a foreign government.” This is true in the sense that the territory in question ceases to be part of its State. But in any other sense, such territory is not to be regarded as foreign even in the limited way in which that term can be applied to the relation of the States to each other. The Commonwealth Government exercises in regard to it the full powers of a national government throughout the Commonwealth; the government of the territory is not a distinct political entity, a separate persona, it is nothing else than the Commonwealth Government discharging its national duties.note It is obvious that the omnipotence of the Parliament in relation to Commonwealth territory, and especially the seat of government, may be made the basis of an exercise of power which may be of national importance.

In the United States the residents in the Federal District of Columbia and the territories are not electors for the Presidency, the Senate, or the House of Representatives. And in like manner the arrangements of the Constitution provide, in the first instance only, for the exercise of political power by electors of the States. Section 122, however, provides that the Parliament may allow the representation of territory surrendered by any State and accepted by the Commonwealth, in either House of the Parliament, to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.

ii. “Matters relating to any department of the public service, the control of which is by this Constitution


  ― 164 ―
transferred to the Executive Government of the Commonwealth.”

“By this Constitution” must be taken to include “under the powers of this Constitution.” Strictly speaking, the departments of customs and excise alone are transferred by the Constitution; the others become transferred on the proclamation of the Governor-General.

iii. “Other matters declared by this Constitution to be within the exclusive power of the Parliament.”

The question whether the power over commerce among the States is an exclusive power is discussed elsewhere.

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