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PRESS RELEASE - MONDAY 9 APRIL 2018

Long awaited answers on how Australia became a nation and how our governance really works

Each year more and more Australians express declining knowledge of, and attitudes to, the Australian system of governance and its processes. Yet Australia has an extraordinary and unique story that is foremost in world history. Operating under the rules of the Australian Constitution, we are today envied as one of the most enduring and stable systems of government in the world. So why do so few of us understand how our Constitution works, our freedoms, our rights and our responsibilities as citizens of a great nation? 

The High Court has worked with the Constitution Education Fund Australia (CEFA) to build the first Exhibition for the newly established Australian Constitution Centre. Visitors will experience an inspirational journey exploring thousands of years of ideas and events as countries trialled alternative systems of government. By 1901, the writers of the Australian Constitution had entrenched six foundation principles that today explain how things work in the operation of the Commonwealth Government. These principles are introduced throughout the Exhibition as they integrate the stories of our nation building.

Mrs Kerry Jones, CEO of CEFA said earlier today “Each day constitutional questions are raised that deserve to be answered. How did women get the right to vote?  When did the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples finally achieve native title land rights? Does the Constitution impose rules on the politicians and the States?  Is it true that if I am a murderer I still get a fair trial?  Is our democratic right to vote worthwhile? What dates from the story of our nationhood should we celebrate through annual public holidays? Should we alter the Constitution and if so, what are the most important issues facing us today?  Has the culture, values and beliefs of our Australian society changed since federation 1901? What does Australian citizenship mean today? Can we find common ground and ways forward for our nation?”

Mrs Jones added “The Australian Constitution Centre recognises the urgent need for a comprehensive civics education program to restore knowledge, trust and confidence for the deliverance of good governance. Our Exhibition will provide this to the hundreds of thousands of years 5 and 6 students who will experience it when they come to Canberra.”

Collaborating institutions have gifted and loaned papers, letters and artefacts that are treasures never before been on public display. For the first time ever the High Court will open up interpretations of landmark cases, enabling visitors to the Exhibition to experience the work of the Court and its role in our democracy since Federation.

Parliamentary Ambassador from the Australian Government, Julian Leeser MP, said earlier today “I am delighted that the Turnbull Government has funded and supported the Australian Constitution Centre. Visitors of all ages will experience and discover why our nation has processes of governance considered amongst the best in the world”. 

THE AUSTRALIAN CONSTITUTION CENTRE WILL OFFICIALLY BE OPENED BY THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF AUSTRALIA, THE HON SUSAN KIEFEL AC AT 3:00PM, APRIL 9th, AT THE HIGH COURT, CANBERRA. ALL MEDIA ENQUIRIES SHOULD BE DIRECTED TO CEFA CEO, MRS KERRY JONES, 0417 213 228 OR MR JULIAN LEESER MP, 0424 182 654.

MEMBERS OF THE PRESS GALLERY ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO ATTEND A PRE-OPENING MEDIA CONFERENCE AT THE HIGH COURT AT 2:30PM.