Resources on secession?

Greetings, I’m writing a university paper arguing that Western Australia was legally justified when it tried to secede in 1933. I’m looking for legal theorists who present arguments in favor of secession. In particular, I’d be interested in a contractual approach. The following steps of reasoning might be involved:

  • The Constitution of Australia is a contract.
  • The states entered that contract under the assumption that the commonwealth wouldn’t take over their areas of power (they have powers reserved to them under s 107 – similar to the 10th amendment in the US).
  • We should respect original intent in interpreting the constitution.
  • Since the Federal government has breached their promise and increasingly centralized power, the states now have a right to exit the compact (secede).
  • My lecturers jaw dropped to the floor– “Wha… where’d u get that argument?”

    Me:”Radical legal scholars in the US”.

    29 thoughts on “Resources on secession?

    1. There is another argument that could be tried- since the states are named in the Constitution, but not defined, if, for example, The Kimberleys seceded and called themselves Kimberland State, would they be automatically outside the Commonwealth? Or would the commonwealth accept that Kimberland was not part of Western Australia, but claim that it was still ruled from Canberra?
      Or, if Western Australia defined itself so as to exclude the Kimberleys, maybe the Kimberleys would be a de facto new state? Or a free nation, beyond Canberra’s control.

    2. I think a state has every right to secede, but would anyone want to, though? I mean, if we all did we’d have no defence force…

    3. Nit so fast, Tinos! If the states broke away, NSW has the most people, and so could raise the best defence forces. If the states broke up, we landowners would be kings who should be wise enough to co-ordinate our defence with our neighbours, a citizen’s militia concept. Also, we could pay for private companies to defend borders- we would not need attack submarines if we could detect submarines and use depthcharges on them. And if we are dispersed, then nuclear weapons lose their advantage- no central kill shot is possible.

    4. Nuke:
      – I doubt any of your (or my) ideas would be superior to what the ADF has already thought of.
      – If we seceded nukes would be no less effective against us.
      – I will not tolerate private companies having nukes, etc.
      – I don’t think you could ever go on TV arguing for secession and a citizen’s militia, and be taken seriously.

    5. If we didn’t have nukes, then the other side would not feel a need to use theirs, nor would they want to damage the very land they want to keep and use. Why didn’t the Americans use nukes against Bin-laden, when he was in that mountain in Afghanistan? It would have seemed disproportionate.
      As for private companies having nukes, do you feel safer with states having them? I realise that proliferation has the danger that they might be used, BUT I don’t want the only effective way to totally surpress them, which would be a Leviathan state having a larger control of our lives.
      I think you could go on TV and be taken seriously, but I would prefer to make millions and fund a secessionist movement and start up a new state, perhaps in the Kimberleys, and then go on TV and present the Commonwealth with a fait accompli, as well as a declaration of independence.

    6. The constitution isn’t a contract, it is an ACT of British parliament. In essence it is a declaration of independence granted by Britian to the aggregated colonies. To secede lawfully I would think you would need to amend the constitutional reference to Australia being indivisible, there being a mechanism for such an amendment. Short of that I think you need to break the law.

    7. No I mean it’s a social contract in legal theory. John Locke etc. The case could be made that it’s a compact between the States and commonwealth. The High Court would never accept secession is constitutional, because they’d be seen to be committing treason by allowing it. However it’s fun to argue.

    8. Hi Sukrit. Unfortunately I’ve got too much Set Theory to study!

      Nuke:
      – An aggressor would be happy to nuke some parts of the country to gain the whole thing. Japan didn’t have nukes when it was nuked.
      – We didn’t use nukes in Afghanistan because it would have been immoral. Aggressors against us would have no such restraint.
      – I feel much safer with governments having nukes, than with companies having them.
      – You don’t need a leviathon state for defence.
      – Personally, I would support military action against Kimberley if it tried to secede from Australia. It would present too great a risk to national security.

    9. “I feel much safer with governments having nukes, than with companies having them.”

      Side note: just because you feel safer, doesn’t mean you are safer.

      Carry on 🙂

    10. Tinos just read this then:

      “[W]henever the inhabitants of a particular territory, whether it be a single village, a whole district, or a series of adjacent districts, make it known, by a freely conducted plebiscite, that they no longer wish to remain united to the state to which they belong at the time, but wish either to form an independent state or to attach themselves to some other state, their wishes are to be respected and complied with. This is the only feasible and effective way of preventing revolutions and civil and international wars.”
      – Ludwig von Mises

    11. “This is the only feasible and effective way of preventing revolutions and civil and international wars.”

      I would rather there be a civil war, than Kimberley secede. I think 99.9% of people would agree with me, too.

    12. “I would rather there be a civil war, than Kimberly secede.”

      WHY!!! Why would you want to have a bloody conflict and violently force a people to remain in an association that they have demonstrated that they no longer have any wish of being a part of? What the hell do you think gives you or anybody else the moral authority to do that?!

    13. Mabuse: It would be a nightmare for defence. The bloody conflict with Kimberly would be much less bloody than future conflicts in which Kimberley is used as a beachhead to invade Australia. Self defence is my moral authority.

    14. Nuke: I support democracy, not empire. I am a libertarian, although I’ve recently concluded the extremists like Rothbard are wrong.

    15. So do any people ever have any right to secede? What happened to freedom and liberty? I only support democracy when it is limited to public properties, leaving private properties alone.
      As for beachheads, how do you know the Kimberleys wouldn’t be totally neutral in all future wars? If it were a separate nation, it might act as a buffer between the commonwealth and any invading force.
      If you think that separatists might invite outside forces in to bolster their own independence, don’t forget that the Yanks did that with the French during their rebellion, and then encouraged them to leave when the war was won.
      So I think that your arguments are not compelling.

    16. Secession is an option in some situations. Freedom requires a strong government.

      Even if Kimberley were neutral, it would be the first place the aggressor would land. No one is ever going to take you seriously with your plans for Kimberley’s secession.

      The states seceding from the British empire was a completely different situation.

    17. “Even if Kimberley were neutral, it would be the first place the aggressor would land. No one is ever going to take you seriously with your plans for Kimberley’s secession.”

      They’d have to fight them as well and be strategic orphans.

    18. Freedom does not need a strong government- it might need a large army, which is a separate issue. The Taliban think they are fighting for freedom in Afghanistan, but they do not have a strong central government.
      If all citizens were also part of local militia, you could have a large army, without a centralised command. Since the voters would be the army, the danger of a standing army disappears- they’d already control the country! In all wars, the side which can utilise the most resources to its’ aims is the side that wins.

    19. Tinos, you seem to be concerned about Indonesia using Kimberland as a staging post. How would you feel if Tasmania wanted to secede? (Unlikely, I know, but it could happen. Especially if I get rich from my nearly-finished Mobile Button, and agitate in Hobart against Canberra and the Greens, who are destroying jobs.)

    20. Nuke: I’m happy for Tasmania to nullify certain kinds of laws (e.g. WorkChoices). But unless Australia ceases to be democratic, or blatantly violates the constitution or human rights, I would still support military action against Tasmania. Btw, the Greens are pretty powerful in Tasmania.

    21. Self government is a human right, the exercise of which must necessarily include the right of secession.

    22. The Riverina should secede given it is in flood and we have an official report demanding we cut water rights by 34%, with only 300 job losses in an agricultural based economy with a population of 250 000…it should rejoin the Commonwealth when it’s Australian brothers accede to her demands and make an act of contrition as to how much they hurt their loyal and dejected brothers.

    23. DEFINITELY not my style but it has been thought of before when Governments ran feral:

      http://adbonline.anu.edu.au/biogs/A090192b.htm

      “Throughout the 1920s Hardy was active in local affairs. He was a mainstay of the Wagga sub-branch of the Returned Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia. In 1928 he proposed the formation of the Riverina Development League, concerned largely with local matters such as irrigation, and in 1930 he became a member of the United Australia Association. Hardy achieved national prominence next year as leader of the Riverina Movement which had its main centres at Wagga and Narrandera; he was strongly supported by the prominent Narrandera storekeeper and rice-grower, Robert Henry Hankinson. Hardy advocated the replacement of State parliaments with provincial councils and threatened that the Riverina would secede. He rivalled the leader of the New Guard, Eric Campbell, for intemperate criticism of the New South Wales government of Jack Lang. Robert Clyde Packer, managing editor of Associated Newspapers Ltd, and other members of an employing class which had become disillusioned with parliamentary democracy, championed Hardy as the ‘Cromwell of the Riverina’, a Mussolini-style Messiah, who, like another ‘lowly carpenter’, had returned to his earthly kingdom for the day of judgment. With a campaign mounted and co-ordinated by the O’Brien Publicity Co., Hardy swooped around New South Wales in an aeroplane, delivering demagogic speeches as part of his ‘message of hope’. He did not shrink from describing himself as a Fascist and referred obliquely to a ‘Silent Division’ within the movement, which he termed ‘the country method of upholding law and order’, but which others have interpreted as a secret paramilitary arm not unlike the New Guard.

      Hardy’s truculent oratory generated interest among the police and the Commonwealth Investigation Branch and consternation from the leaders of the United Country Party, who, while involved in another, hardly less militant rural separatist organization, the New England New State movement, perceived Hardy to be a threat to their leadership. The Riverina Movement was gradually subsumed by the parliamentary party; in August 1931 Hardy became chairman of the jointly formed United Country Movement and was elected to the Senate as a United Country Party candidate in December. Nevertheless, in May 1932, during the final tempestuous days of the Lang government, he was ‘theatrical’ in urging that the country movements step outside the constitution and set themselves up in office. It was later alleged that he had drivers ready to rush proclamations to four hundred rural centres, a twelve-man emergency junta ready to assume office and a military organization prepared to defend these leaders against arrest.”

    24. Sukrit,

      The problem with your argument is that the States willingly (?) seemed to renegotiate with the Commonwealth as to change the terms of the Constitutitonal *contract*.

      How would you get around this?

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