Dear Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet,
I am writing to ask why the current Prime Minister has not used the following oath from the 'Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (1900)':
"I, A.B., do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to
Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Her heirs and successors according to law.
SO HELP ME GOD! "
(Currently "Queen Victoria" can be substituted to "Queen Elizabeth II")
Below is a link to a video of the Prime Minister Scott Morrison reading an oath in May 2019 that is inconsistent with the oath in the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (1900).
I would like to see evidence of the Prime Minister reading or reciting the original oath. Otherwise, please provide documents suggesting the approval an oath/affirmation that is not consistent with the oath in the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (1900).
Thank you for your email dated 26 October 2021, received by the Department
of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (the Department), in which you made a
request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act).
Validity of your request
Section 11 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) relevantly
provides that a person is entitled to obtain access under the FOI Act to a
document of an agency or a minister, rather than to information.
Your request appears to seek information relating to the ‘Prime Minister's
Oath’, and is not a request for documents.
A valid FOI request must meet requirements outlined in Section 15 of the
FOI Act, as follows:
- The request must be in writing;
- It must state it is a request for the purposes of the FOI Act;
- It must provide such information as is reasonably necessary to
enable the agency to identify the document/s.
As your request is not a valid FOI request under section 15 of the FOI
Act, we will take no further action in processing your request. However,
the Department is able to provide some additional information regarding
Information regarding your query
The Oath sworn by the Prime Minister in the May 2019 video referenced in
your request is the standard Oath of Office sworn by Government members of
the Parliament when they are appointed to the Ministry. This Oath is
administered separately to the one prescribed by the Constitution as it is
only sworn by appointees to the Ministry, as separate from the Parliament.
This Oath is symbolic and holds no legal bearing with regard to the
person’s status as a member of the Ministry, noting this is provided for
by a separate Instrument of Appointment.
As you’ve identified, the Australian Constitution requires that those
elected to the Senate and the House of Representatives swear or solemnly
affirm their allegiance to the Crown. Senators and members are required
to both ‘make and subscribe’ (sign) an oath or affirmation. The same oath
and affirmation have been used since Federation and can only be changed by
constitutional referendum. Section 42 of the Constitution states:
Every senator and every member of the House of Representatives shall
before taking his seat make and subscribe before the Governor-General, or
some person authorised by him, an oath or affirmation of allegiance in the
form set forth in the schedule to the Constitution.
At the first meeting of a new Parliament the oath or affirmation is
normally administered by a person authorised by the Governor-General,
usually a Justice of the High Court. After reading the judge’s
authorisation to the House, the Clerk of the House of Representatives
tables the returns to the writs for the general election, then calls
members elected, usually in groups of 10 to 12, to the Table of the House
to make the oath or affirmation and subscribe the oath or affirmation
The Hon Scott John Morrison MP was first elected to the Parliament as the
member for Cook on 24 November 2007. As per the process outlined above, he
was subsequently sworn in as a Member of Parliament on 12 February 2008,
alongside all other members of the 42^nd Parliament. These members swore
the oath or affirmation prescribed by the Constitution, administered by
the Hon. Anthony Murray Gleeson AC, Chief Justice of the High Court of
Australia. The relevant extract from Hansard is attached to evidence Mr
Morrison’s subscription of the oath, and this is also publicly available
from the Australian Parliament House website.
We hope this explanation has been of assistance to you.
Adviser | FOI Section
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
p. (02) 6271 5849
Ngunnawal Country, One National Circuit Barton ACT 2600 | PO Box
6500 CANBERRA ACT 2600
e. [email address] w. pmc.gov.au