Who is the Australian Constitution for?

I have always thought that the Constitution was a document created for the people, that is the flesh and blood man and woman. But now I am not so sure.

In the document (a scanned copied of which can be found here) there is reference to person, persons and people. I don’t want to go too deep as to when each is or isn’t used, what I‘m more interested in is the definition that they use. The reason being is that in all my research over the years, the term person seems to be what has caused the greatest amount of discussion and confusion. So if you look in the Acts Interpretation Act 1901, which was the second bill to be passed once the Commonwealth of Australia was formed, it states the following:

22. In any Act, unless the contrary intention appears-
(a) “Person” and “party” shall include a body politic or corporate as well as an individual:

Ok so I thought, as this is a legal document, why don’t I take a look at a legal dictionary that would have been used around the time of the Constitution’s creation. The reason being, I have known for a number of years that any legal document gets created using terms whose meanings are often arse backwards to what we usually use in day to day conversations. So I looked up the word person from Black’s Law Dictionary 1st Edition, published in 1891. In there it states the following:

Persons are divided by law into natural and artificial. Natural persons are such as the God of nature formed us; artificial are such as are created and devised by human laws, for the purposes of society and government, which are called “corporations” or “bodies politic”.

So I think to myself, ok, they are saying in the Constitution the definition for a person is a “body politic or corporation” which as we can see from Black’s Law is in reference to an artificial person and not the flesh and blood man/woman. Ok, so what about the word individual? I couldn’t find a definition in the 1st edition so I looked under the Black’s Law Dictionary 2nd Edition (published 1910) and this is what it says:

As a noun, this term denotes a single person as distinguished from a group or class , and also, very commonly, a private or natural person as distinguished from a partnership, corporation, or association; but it is said that this restrictive signification is not necessarily inherent in the word, and that it may, in proper cases, include artificial persons.

Ok, so an individual could be a natural person by this definition. But I’d like to look into the last part in a bit more detail as I’ve learnt from experience that these cunning buggers aren’t into the kind of absolute honesty and truth as espoused by The One People.

So lets just look at the last part may, in proper cases, include artificial persons and see what Black’s Law has to say about these words. The term may in Black’s 1st states:

“MAY”, in the construction of public statutes, is to be construed “must” in all cases where the legislature mean to impose a positive and absolute duty, and not merely to give discretionary power.

So we see in legal land it doesn’t mean a possibility, which is what Dictionary.com tells me.

That which is fit, suitable, adapted, and correct.
Peculiar; naturally or essentially belonging to a person or thing

A general term for an action, cause, suit or controversy, at law or in equity.

Embraced; comprehended; comprehending the stated limits or extremes. Opposed to “exclusive”.

And incidently, there is a Maxim of Law which states:

Inclusio unius est exclusion alterius. The inclusion of one is the exclusion of another.

Finally, for completeness, here is the definition for artificial person:

Persons created and devised by human laws for the purposes of society and government, as distinguished from natural persons. Corporations are examples of artificial persons.

So the upshot of all this is that it would appear that the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act has nothing to do with the flesh and blood man and woman, but instead was created for the benefit of artificial persons.

Is this a good or bad thing? I’ll leave the reader to decide for themselves.


All documents used have been for private non-commercial use only.