What is the role of the Australian Legal System in establishing rights, responsibilities and values? Discuss this in relevence to the Euthanasia debate.

Essay by joburns_3High School, 11th gradeA+, April 2003

download word file, 6 pages 3.5

It is the role of a legal system to establish rights and responsibilities, and to uphold society's values. It is a given fact, however, that society's values will shift and change with the sands of time and, therefore, so too must the rights and responsibilities associated with those values.

The most basic of rights granted to Australian citizens are contained within the Constitution. These include the right to vote in local, state and federal elections; the right to freedom of religion; as well as the right to trial by jury under the adversary system for indictable criminal offences. In order to change the written word of the Commonwealth Constitution a referendum must be held and the procedure set out in s.128 of the Constitution followed. A referendum proposal is introduced into both houses of federal parliament and, in order for the proposal to proceed, must be passed by a majority in both houses.

However, special provisions involving the Governor-General do exist when one house rejects a referendum proposal twice. The proposal is then put to the citizens of Australia in the form of a 'Yes/No' question. The referendum must receive a 'yes' vote by a majority of voters in Australia, as well as a 'yes' vote from a majority of people in a majority of states (at least four out of six).

It can be seen that Australians are not great advocates of change. Out of forty-four proposed amendments to the written word of the Constitution, only eight have been passed. The most notable of these occurred in 1967 when s.127 of the Constitution was repealed and Aboriginal people were granted the right to have their votes counted for the very first time. This occurrence is an example of a shifting social acceptance of the native peoples of this land...