Are Aliens ‘People of the Commonwealth of Australia’?

20 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2014

Date Written: December 27, 2014


Who precisely is due any Australian constitutional protections afforded to ‘the people of the Commonwealth’.

This question is an important one in light of two relatively recent High Court cases in which it was decided that ss. 7 & 24 of the Constitution can invalidate legislation if it unreasonably denies ‘the people’ the right to vote.

The notion that ‘the people’ have constitutional rights concerning the franchise is of particular interest to long-term Australian residents – including, by the Department of Immigration & Border Protection’s own estimate , at least 120,000 New Zealand citizens – who may lawfully spend the rest of their lives in the Australian community but who have no effective pathway to citizenship and thus the right to vote.

This paper suggests an answer to the question ‘who are the people?’ based upon analysis of the original intent expressed by the Constitution’s framers during the Federation Conferences held between 1897 and 1898.

Keywords: Australian Constitution, the people of the Commonwealth, voting rights, New Zealand citizens in Australia, discrimination

Suggested Citation

Faulkner, David, Are Aliens ‘People of the Commonwealth of Australia’? (December 27, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

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