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Is the following included in the Australian Constitution - refer US 13th amendment 'no lawyers allowed in public office'?

Marilyn Quirk made this Freedom of Information request to Attorney-General's Department

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From: Marilyn Quirk

Delivered

Dear Attorney-General's Department,

Is the following included in the Australian Constitution - refer US 13th amendment 'no lawyers allowed in public office'?

Yours faithfully,
Marilyn Quirk
27 Linton Avenue
HEYBRIDGE TAS 7316
0364354446

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Locutus Sum left an annotation ()

The request will almost certainly be rejected because (i) it is invalid as an application under the Freedom of Information Act 1983 (Cth) because it is a request for information and not a request for a document, (ii) it is not even clear what information is being asked for, (iii) it appears to ask the authority to do legal research.

I maybe do not need to explain point i. As for point ii, the applicant's question could mean (a) do the words "no lawyers allowed in public office" appear in the Constitution of Australia? (b) is there anything in the Constitution of Australia that prohibits a lawyer (which maybe means a "registered legal practitioner" but maybe means something else) from holding public office, (c) are there words in the Constitution of Australia similar to the words in the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, or (d) it could mean "please read the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and tell me how it is relevant to Australia.".

The beginning is a good place to begin. The Freedom of Information Act 1983 gives a right of access to documents, subject to the Act. Section 11 says (partly) Subject to this Act, every person has a legally enforceable right to obtain access in accordance with this Act to: (a) a document of an agency, other than an exempt document. It does not give a person a right of access to information or legal advice or legal opinion.

The easiest way for the applicant to answer his own question is to read the Consitution of Australia which is available online here https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C...
A quick search shows that the word "lawyer" is not anywhere in the consitution.

Now what about the 13th Amendment to the Consitution of the United States. A description of the 13th Amendment and the text of the amendment are on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirteenth... . The 13th amendment is about abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude, not about lawyers. So what is going on with the applicant's request? I think that she has been reading some conspiracy-theory websites (search Google with "no lawyers allowed in public office" with the " marks) that say the original 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution has been lost as part of a secret and devious plan to undermine the law, and that it originally said "If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive, or retain any title of nobility or honor or shall without the consent of Congress, accept or retain any present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince, or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them or either of them."

A text very similar to the allegedly lost 13th Amendment is actually in Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Consitution of the United States. It is generally called the Title of Nobility Clause or the Emoluments Clause ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_of_N... ) If you search using Google then you will see that Senator Weinstein of the United States has said several times that she believes that Donald Trump has violated the Emoluments Clause.

If you look at the Constitution of Australia you can see at least two things that are similar to the Title of Nobility Clause. There is s 44 of the Consitution that has caused problems for some Australian parliamentarians recently because of dual citizenship (no allegiance to a foreign power) and there is also a clause that prohibits a person from holding an office of profit under the Crown.

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From: Marilyn Quirk

Delivered

Dear Attorney-General's Department,
I found your reply a bit flippant, as you must know, Australians following the 'right to know' might not be a legal expert. I have sent you the link I used. I think it is a valid question when the law, governments, and justice systems are under the microscope. Whether it is your department or not, doesn't matter but many of us don't know off the top of the head? I guess I now have some new ways to research. I do not allow that this was necessarily 'fake'.

http://themillenniumreport.com/2015/10/t...

Yours faithfully,

Marilyn Quirk

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Locutus Sum left an annotation ()

This applicant has made a mistake. An annotation, like the one I made yesterday ( https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/i... ) is a note made by a user; it is not a reply from the authority and the authority (Attorney General's Department) have no knowledge of my annotation.

Annotations are meant to be helpful, not flippant. I intended my annotation to be helpful but maybe it was not. Definitely it was not flippant. I tried to understand how the applicant could think that the 13th Amendment to the United States constitution said "no lawyers allowed in public office" if it is actually an anti-slavery amendment. I also tried to understand what the applicant really wanted. And I also tried to explain that the Freedom of Information Act 1983 explains what information the applicant has a right to under FOI and why the FOI Act will not help her with her question. Last, I tried (and I think I succeeded) in answering her question.
1. The Australian Constitution is easily viewed online. Anyone can read it and can see that it does not anywhere say "no lawyers allowed in public office".
2. The US Consitution does not say "no lawyers in public office" in the 13th Amendment but there is an emoluments clause in Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 .

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From: FOI Requests
Attorney-General's Department

UNCLASSIFIED
Dear Marilyn Quirk,

I refer to your request under the Freedom of information Act 1982 (FOI Act) to the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department on 5 May 2019. I am writing to advise that the request you have made does not constitute a valid FOI request.

Your request
‘Is the following included in the Australian Constitution - refer US 13th amendment 'no lawyers allowed in public office'

does not meet the requirements of section 15 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) as it does not provide sufficient information to identify the document.

The FOI Guidelines, issued by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, state at paragraph 2.29 that the ‘right of access’ under the FOI Act is to existing documents, rather than to information, and that the FOI Act does not require an agency to create a new document containing the information that is sought.

It is open to you to reframe your request by providing more specific detail about what you are seeking, and by requesting particular documents rather than information.

The following web page provides information about the Australian Constitution more generally and may be of interest to you https://www.peo.gov.au/learning/closer-l....

If you have any questions, please contact the FOI Unit by telephone on (02) 6141 6666 or by email [AGD request email].

Yours sincerely
FOI Case Officer

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Locutus Sum left an annotation ()

To the applicant. My only reason for this note is to help you see the way that Right to Know shows different kinds of writing. A message from an applicant, like you, is on a yellow background with a gray border and has the name of the applicant in the top righthand corner. Also, there should be a message to say that the email was delivered.

An annotation from another user looks like the box that this text is in. It is with a white background and will say "NameOf_Person left an annotation".

A reply from the authority where the FOI application was sent, like the reply that you now have received, will look like the box above this annotation text. You can see it is on a gray background and it should have (but maybe not always) the name of the authority in the top righthand corner.

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