Senate debates

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


Succession to the Crown Bill 2015; Second Reading

5:25 pm

Photo of Michaelia CashMichaelia Cash (WA, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated into Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—


The Succession to the Crown Bill 2015 will provide the Parliament of Australia's assent to three important reforms to modernise the law relating to royal succession. These changes are consistent with changes being made to the law in the United Kingdom. They will align the royal succession laws with modern values and ensure that the same person is the Sovereign of Australia and of the United Kingdom.

The first reform will end the system of male preference primogeniture so that in future the order of succession will be determined simply by order of birth. Female heirs will no longer be displaced by their younger brothers. The reform will apply to any person born after 28 October 2011.

The second reform is to remove the bar on succession for an heir and successor of the Sovereign who marries a Catholic. The existing restriction applies to Catholics alone and not to any other faith. The reform will apply to all existing marriages at the time the law comes into force as well as future marriages.

The third reform is to limit the requirement that the Sovereign consent to the marriage of a descendant of his late Majesty King George the Second to the first six persons in line to the Crown. Failure to obtain permission to marry will no longer prevent a person from marrying, but simply mean that the person and the person's descendants are removed from the line of succession. The reform will also validate some marriages voided by the Royal Marriages Act 1772 of Great Britain. The existing rule applies to hundreds of descendants. Many of them would not have been aware that they needed the Sovereign's permission to marry. Their marriages may be legally void as a result. This bill will correct this situation by validating those marriages, provided they meet certain criteria.

The reforms were enacted by the Parliament of the United Kingdom on 22 April 2013, and will come into force on the commencement of the UK legislation, as soon as all 16 Realms, including Australia, implement the reforms in their jurisdictions.

The Commonwealth, States and Territories, in the Council of Australian Governments, COAG, agreed to the reforms in July 2012, and agreed in April 2013 to implement them using a legislative consent-and-request approach relying on s51(xxxviii) of the Constitution.

Under this approach each of the States must pass legislation requesting that the Commonwealth enact legislation for the whole of Australia. All States' legislation needs to commence before the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia can enact the Commonwealth legislation. I note that all States' legislation has now commenced.

COAG further agreed that any States that wished to could also enact State legislation dealing with the rules of Royal succession alongside the request legislation.

This modernisation of the laws of succession ensures the continued relevance of the monarchy to Australia and her people and reflects the commitment that all Australians have to equality and non-discrimination.

We are proud today to be changing the laws of royal succession to reflect the values that we all hold dear.

I commend this Bill to the Senate.

Debate adjourned.