The Constitutional Centre of Western Australia: Its Foundation
Dr Harry Phillips, FACE.
Parliamentary Fellow (Education): Parliament of Western Australia
Honorary Professor, Edith Cowan University,
Adjunct Professor, Curtin University of Technology,
· Report of the Malcolm McCusker Constitutional Committee (January 1995)
· The Ancient and Contemporary National Civic Education Drive
· The Western Australian Scene
· The Constitutional Centre Opportunity is Taken
· Foundation Constitutional Centre Director and Opening
· Appendix One: Membership of the Western Australian Constitutional Committee 1993
· Appendix Two: Terms of Reference for the McCusker Western Australian Constitutional Committee.
· Appendix Three: Conclusions and Recommendations [Education] of McCusker Constitutional Committee 1995
· Appendix Four: Paper: Roles of a Centre and Possible Location (1990) Appendix Five: Constitutional Centre Workshop (24 April 1996)
· Appendix Six: Constitutional Centre Workshop (29 August 1996)
· Appendix Seven: Key Milestones in the Establishment of the Western Australian Constitutional Centre.
· Appendix Eight: Western Australian Constitutional Centre Foundation Advisory Board
· Select Bibliography
The Constitutional Centre of Western Australia, located at the old Hale School Building near the Parliament in West Perth, holds a unique place in Australia’s civic education fabric as the only institution of its kind in Australia. It was officially opened on 29 October 1997 by His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffrey, the Governor of Western Australia, with the Hon. Richard Court, Premier of Western Australia, launching the Centre’s website and inaugural exhibition. The Premier could correctly say he had acted on some of the specific recommendations of the 1995 Western Australian Constitutional Committee which he had earlier established under the Chairmanship of prominent QC, Malcolm McCusker. In fact there had been more than a decade of promotion of the notion of a Centre which had captured some of the historic commitment to citizenship and civic education which had dated back to ancient times and had periodically been a component of Western Australia’s school curriculum framework. With the prospect of an Australian republic in the air and the recognition of the need for a better understanding of our political and legal system there was a fortuitous confluence of forces. The State and national constitutional climate with the republic question being given focus, combined with the articulation of the civic education tradition, led the Court Government of the day to demonstrate an innovative perspective in creating the Centre.
Report of the Malcolm McCusker Constitutional Committee’s (January 1995)
The original terms of reference of the Western Australian Constitutional Committee, chaired by Malcolm McCusker QC, were announced on 14 October 1993 by Premier Richard Court. The broadly representative committee’s primary mission was to ascertain what the people of the Western Australia thought about the future of the federation and the implications of an Australian republic for the State. The Committee’s Terms of Reference did not explicitly include consideration of whether Australia ought to become a republic, nor surprisingly was there any apparent scope for public consultation. However, the revised terms of reference, for which Premier Court gave his assent in April 1994, did conclude with provision number eleven which stated ‘ways of ensuring adequate consultation with the people and their participation in decision-making on the above terms’ (such as federalism and the republic). Its brief did not include any explicit reference to civic education or consideration of an institution such as a Constitutional Centre.
The Committee was greatly encouraged by the public response to hearings conducted throughout the State and to the quality of written submissions that it received. When it reported in January 1995 a range of recommendations focused on the advantages of a federal over a central system; securing a financial federal balance, the republican and head of state questions, constitutional amendment including the use of indicative referendums. One of the Committee’s recommendations was for Western Australia to promote a Constitutional Convention to formulate practical proposals for strengthening the federal system. It was contended that the Convention sessions should be open to the public, and at least one should be held in the least populous States. Ideally, delegates would be in part popularly elected. Parliamentary delegates should be selected on a bipartisan basis and each State should have an equal number of delegates.
The proposal for a Convention to include elected public delegates and selected parliamentarians proved to be a forerunner to the 1998 national Republican Convention which debated the republican model and proposed elements of a new Preamble to the Australian Constitution. History records that both questions were unsuccessfully placed before the electorate in November 1999. However, perhaps the most enduring and significant recommendations made by the Committee came under the additional term of reference eleven which the Committee Report included in a chapter titled ‘Involving the People’. This became the vehicle for a host of proposals for public participation and education.
The Report of the McCusker Committee documented a wealth of views from the public submissions, including research evidence, which strongly supported both the need for consultation with the electorate and the necessity, even desire, for broader political and civic education. It led the Committee to draft a number of educational conclusions which commenced with recommendation 32 which stated ‘there is a need to provide balanced, non-partisan, high quality civic education that is readily available and suitable for people of all ages and backgrounds, including people who have come form a different political culture’. This lead to critical recommendation 33 which stated:
It is recommended that the State Government support the establishment of a Constitutional Centre, incorporating a museum and with community education functions, ideally to be situated near Parliament House’.
The McCusker Committee Executive Officer, Ms Kerry Ross, sympathetic to the concept of a Centre, has verified that the draft version of the recommendation for the Constitutional Centre, and other educational objectives, was the product of her consultation with the author of a substantial submission to the Committee on political and civic education, Dr Harry Phillips of Edith Cowan University. The endorsement of the Constitutional Centre proposal by the McCusker Committee was a major step in the establishment of the institution. The standing of the Chair, Malcolm McCusker, the prestige associated with the Committee members, the willingness to engage the public and the quality of the final report were important factors in the success of the quest. The Committee’s recommendations were unanimous but it is known that both Professor David Black and ministerial advisor, and scholar, Jeremy Buxton, spoke in favour of the submission for the Constitutional Centre. Ultimately, it was the decision of the Richard
Court’s State Government, with the personal approval of Premier Court, which made a reality of the Constitutional Centre.
The first clear signal that the Government was keen to act on the recommendation for a Constitutional Centre was contained in a Ministerial Statement to the Legislative Assembly on 29 June 1995 by Premier Richard Court, titled ‘Western Australian Constitutional Committee’s Report’. The Premier was very supportive of the tone of the Report, suggesting that the Committee should be ‘congratulated for its perception that reform of federalism is more important to our future than the republican debate, creating an important opportunity to advance such reports on the national agenda’. Near the conclusion of the Statement Premier Court included two significant paragraphs as follows:
Finally the committee has advanced a number of recommendations in response to the final term of reference, seeking to ensure adequate popular consultation and decision making. The Government recognises the need for high quality civic education for all Western Australians, as stated in recommendation 32. While we welcome the commonwealth commitment to this project, it is essential that the State also play a role. We appreciate the desire of so many Western Australians to be better informed as to our state and commonwealth Constitutions.
The Government places particular importance on the recommended establishment of a constitutional museum and community education centre open to both schools and the general public. The good work already being done by the Electoral Education Centre will assist in the realisation of this objective. The area of curriculum change and improved teacher education in civics is an important longer term objective.
Soon after the tabling of the McCusker Report a feasibility study was undertaken at the request of the Ministry of the Premier and Cabinet. The Building and Management Authority (BMA) as it was then known was involved in engaging consulting architects and building contractors. It was known that the old Hale School Building had been registered under the Heritage of Western Australia Act 1990 with the site forming part of an ‘A’ Class Reserve. Hale School’s long history had dated back to 1858 but it had not moved to the West Perth site until 1914. In fact, though, there was a long gestation phase of some seven years to both the concept of a Constitutional Centre and the designation of the old Hale School Building as the chosen location.
The Ancient and Contemporary National Civic Education Drive
The ancient exultation of citizenship qualities and civic education, will not be canvassed in this monograph. However, the strength of this tradition should not be ignored as calls for the development of this domain have the profound advantage of being able to reference the influential works of thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, de Tocqueville and J.S. Mill who gave more weight to such educational considerations than is sometimes realised. Many of the submissions and discussion papers, including specific consideration of the Constitutional Centre, were prefaced by references to the ancient and more modern advocates of civic education.
In particular, Aristotle’s chapters on citizenship had a place in civics syllabii which were periodically given prominence in the early development of education in Australia. The civics courses, common in Australian schools between the World Wars, were widely regarded as encouraging an unquestioned acceptance of the machinery of government, upholding the deeds of great men and limited in terms of participation and issue focus. However, in the post second World War ‘Cold War’ phase a range of barriers emerged that virtually denied a generation of Australians any political and civic education. Politics conjured adverse thoughts of bias. Such courses would ultimately lead to the promotion of protest action. In some quarters ignorance and apathy was supported with theories that the stability of western democracies were partly dependent on the lack of political interest in large sections of the public. A lack of teacher preparation in politics and civics accompanied by the death of resources were more obvious impediments. Indeed these outlooks may have been present when the Beazley Education Report was published in Western Australia in 1984, as it failed to respond to a submission seeking broader political education.
A ‘sea change’ was heralded by the establishment of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) was established in 1983. It was given educative responsibilities in electoral and parliamentary matters. Within a few years the AEC had produced a wealth of written educational booklets, as part of a schools ‘Power Pack’, together with a range of interesting videos. Four years later a similar educative function was included in the legislation which established the Western Australian Electoral Commission. With the obvious need in an obligatory enrolment and compulsory voting environment for citizens to have knowledge of the voting system mechanics and the need to cast considered votes, the respective Electoral Commissions, for a quarter of a century, have played a most supportive role in the growth of civic education.
As Parliaments began subscribing educational roles for the new Electoral Commissions they also began to establish their own education offices and produced additional school resources, including two support kits known as Parliament Packs. The kits were symbolic in signaling a high priority for civic education in schools and the community. One of the most significant parliamentary initiatives arose from the Senate Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training, which was published in early 1989 under the title Education for Active Citizenship in Australian Schools and Youth Organisations. In its preamble the Committee stated ‘that the situation revealed in this report amounts to a crisis which Australians cannot afford to ignore’. Six major recommendations included a high priority be given to ‘active citizenship education’ with particular emphasis being placed on developments at the State and local level. The Committee visited Western Australia and received both oral evidence and written submission for the creation of an educational centre for civic education. Two years later the same Senate Standing Committee published Active Citizenship Re-Visited. There was an expression of disappointment that more progress had not been made but the active citizenship drive had gained some momentum at both the national and State level in Western Australia. The contribution of Edith Cowan University was commended as it had introduced a Civics Course in its teacher education program. The University had several staff who were particularly active in civic education. Wally Moroz and Harry Phillips had undertaken research throughout the school system of the State. Two scholars in civic and political education from the same university were Peter Reynolds and Kevin Barry. The later compiled an excellent resource known as Let’s Explore Politics. Peter Reynolds following earlier works authored a tract titled Preparing Teachers for a Civil Society.
Meanwhile the Australian Council of Education Ministers in their 1989 Hobart Declaration endorsed the Common and Agreed Goals for Education including the aim ‘to develop knowledge, skills and values which enable students to participate as active and informed citizens in our democratic Australian Society within an international context’. This was an important statement because it was unanimously supported by all major political parties. It appeared that one of the great barriers to Australian citizenship and civic education, namely the fear of partisan bias, was being eroded. Perhaps the lessening of the ideological divide between the Labor and Liberal Parties was reducing this concern. Significantly, a review of the Common and Agreed Goals of Schooling which was sought in 1997 by the Ministerial Council for Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA), retained an ‘active and informed citizen’ dimension in the revisited ‘Australia’s Common and Agreed Goals for Schooling in the Twenty first Century’ (1998). A later MCEETYA agreement dated December 2008, known as the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, also retained an ‘Active and Informed Citizens’ goal with a modification to more explicitly understand and acknowledge the value of indigenous cultures.
An important milestone in the explosion of interest in civic education took place with the appointment of the Prime Minister’s Civics Expert Group. This was headed by Professor Stuart Macintyre, the Professor of History at the University of Melbourne ‘to provide the Government with a strategic plan for non-partisan program for public education ad information on the Australian system of government, the Australian Constitution, Australian citizenship and other civic issues’. The emergence of the republic question and the need to educate Australians about their Constitution had been key motivations in the establishment of the group which delivered an extensive and influential report titled Whereas the People (1994). Following suggestions in the report, the May 1995 Federal Budget contained a commitment to overcome the ‘civic deficit’ by devoting grants to the production of non-partisan civics resources and teacher awareness seminars mainly under the auspices of the Australian Curriculum Corporation. Some of the suggestions from Western Australia were taken on board, particularly the tabulation of criteria for a ‘good citizen’, but the wisdom of a constitutional centre was not endorsed. There were budget delays but significantly the suggested allocation of funds survived the change of Federal Government in March 1996 as it was accepted that such a program was ‘above politics’ and that it should remain a national priority. A program ‘Discovering Democracy’ was a major outcome with research in the domain being stimulated.
Before the Howard Government came to office the Prime Minister’s Civics Expert Group was expanded, although it was to be less pretentiously called the Civics Advisory Group. Professor Macintryre, together with Dr Ken Boston, the Director-General of New South Wales Department of School Education and Susan Pascoe, the Co-ordinating Chairperson (Policy) of the Catholic Education Office in Melbourne were to be joined by prominent historian, novelist and political commentator Ross Fitzgerald and Greg Craven, the Professor of Government and Law at the University of Notre Dame, located at Fremantle. Craven held this post from 1993 to 2004. Whilst originally from Victoria, Professor Craven was able to be an influential voice from Western Australia. Once established the Constitutional Centre was to have the benefit of Greg Craven’s counsel as a Member of the Centre’s Advisory Committee. After becoming the Executive Director of the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy he returned to Eastern Australian in January 2008 as Vice-Chancellor of the Australian University Professor Craven was appointed as an Honorary Consultant to the Constitutional Centre. This ‘honour’ was afforded by Premier Colin Barnett in recognition to his contribution to the work of the Centre and more broadly the advancement of law, governance and civics both nationally and in Western Australia.
At the federal level attention should also be drawn to the Senate Legal Constitutional References Committee published a report National Well-being: A System of National Citizenship Indicators and Benchmarks (1995). The report did not focus on citizenship education or how legal citizenship is acquired. Rather it was concerned with ‘citizenship as a desirable activity’ where the quality of one’s citizenship is a function of one’s interaction with the community and as a result the quality of one’s life experience including health, education and well-being. It was recommended that the Australian Bureau of Statistics be resourced to carry out audits on human well-being in which it was observed that ‘active and widespread involvement [as a citizen] has the capacity to complement the various civics and citizenship programs and to make a positive contribution towards building a more inclusive national identity’.
The Western Australian Scene
In Western Australia constitutional review was set in motion with the establishment in 1990 of a Joint Select Committee on the Western Australian Constitution. The terms of reference for the Committee included giving consideration to consolidating the law, practice and statutes comprising the Constitution of Western Australia. In addition, the Committee was to create more opportunities for community discussion concerning possible areas of reform and develop recommendations for making that Constitution more readily available for the citizens of the State. The Committee recommended that ‘a draft consolidated Constitution of Western Australia be the basis of a Bill before the Parliament for its approval and that its assent be decided by a referendum of the People of Western Australia.’ No action was taken to implement the recommendation when the Committee reported without much fanfare and public discussion was tabled in October 1991.
During 1990 there were other events which gave impetus to the value of a civic education agency, sometimes referred to as a parliamentary and education office, and also a ‘constitutional museum or centre’. On 23 February 1990 an Active Citizenship Seminar by hosted the WA Ministry of Education was conducted at Murdoch University. The main speakers at the Conference were Les Smith, the Western Australian Electoral Commissioner, David Robinson, a parliamentary officer who spoke to the seminar about the educational program at the Parliament and Dr Harry Phillips, a member of the Politics Tertiary Entrance Examination Syllabus Committee who spoke of his commitment to civic education since benefiting from a civics course whilst a student at Hale School which used Walter Murdoch’s 1916 book The Australian Citizen: An Elementary Account of Civic Rights and Duties as an inspirational text. The Electoral Commission interpreted the seminar proceedings as making a ‘firm’ recommendation for an Electoral Education Centre to be established. The Commission recalled that such an Electoral and Parliamentary Resource Centre at the Commission had been contemplated in the 1987/1988 Annual Report of the Western Australian Electoral Commission.
Meanwhile, in May 1990, the Report of the Parliamentary Standards Committee was tabled in the Parliament of Western Australia. A section was devoted to ‘Educating about Parliament’ with one of the recommendations being that ‘parliament continue with and seek to expand the provision of a range of educational activities’. David Black, a prominent political commentator and Chairman of the Parliamentary History Advisory Committee, was one of the committee members. At the Parliament itself discussions took place on parliament’s educational role and its place in the broader spectrum of civic education. Those participating in these discussions included the Presiding Officers of the Parliament, namely the Honorable Mike Barnett, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and Honorable Clive Griffiths, President of the Legislative Council and the, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Peter McHugh and Clerk of the Legislative Council, Laurie Marquet and Dr Harry Phillips, while on professional leave at the Parliament as an educational consultant from Edith Cowan University had also taken part in the deliberations.
In early August 1990 Mr Peter McHugh and Dr Harry Phillips traveled to the Eastern States to review the Parliamentary and Electoral Education facilities in Adelaide, Canberra and Sydney. Of special interest was the Parliamentary Museum in Adelaide. This body was operated by a Board of Management under the auspices of a statutory authority known as the History Trust of South Australia. One important impact of the visit was the advisability of a Constitutional Centre in Western Australia. It was Peter McHugh’s view that a new civic education centre should be known as the Constitutional Museum or Centre. He clearly had in mind the South Australian model with the old Hale School buildings as the most likely location. Subsequently a tabulation of possible roles for a Centre was formulated and suitable sites promulgated. The most desired site was the old Hale School Building near the parliamentary precinct in West Perth.
The WA Ministry of Education was maintaining its focus on active citizenship education in schools. The Curriculum Review of Social Studies and Social Science Education recognised its emergence as did the Ministry of Education’s response in its Social Studies in Prospect. The Review Co-Ordinator, Dr Murray Print, an education lecturer at Edith Cowan University was supportive of civic education. He was later to move to the University of New South Wales where he headed a civics research unit and played a prominent part in the national drive for citizenship education. A key member of the Review Team was Glen Bennett, at the time the Social Sciences Education Consultant. As a Senior Curriculum Officer at the Education Ministry, Glen Bennett, was a most influential advocate of civic education and largely responsible for the articulation of the active citizenship dimension in curriculum design in Western Australia. At this juncture, presumably at the instigation of Glen Bennett, the Western Australian Ministry of Education decided to create three working parties in response to the Report. One of the working parties met at the Legislative Assembly Committee Office, which was located at 34 Parliament Place in West Perth. Chaired by Harry Phillips its initial membership included parliamentary representative Peter McHugh as Clerk of the Legislative Assembly who had a major role. In addition Laurie Marquet, the Clerk of the Legislative Council, took part in the deliberations. Again Glen Bennett was an influential participant. Les Smith, the Western Australian Electoral Commissioner was present as were representatives from the Independent Schools Association and the Catholic Education Office.
Another organization which had emerged at this time, but was not at the table, was the Constitutional Foundation of Australia. It had a Western Australian branch with several high profile patrons including Chief Justice David Malcolm. Its main focus was public debate about the republic question but some of its members were very committed to civic and political education. One of the most notable was Janice Dudley, a political scientist from Murdoch University. She was a citizenship scholar who made a wide ranging contribution to political and civic education and was later the Deputy Chair of the Advisory Board for the Constitutional Centre. Another person, who had a reputation for supporting most of the quests for political, constitutional and legal education, was Robert (Rob) O’Connor QC. He was also an Advisory Board Member of the Constitutional Centre and was representative of a section of the legal profession, which had become active in the more specific promotion of legal education. The legal fraternity was not at the working party deliberations but in April 1992 a Youth Legal Education Report in Western Australia, chaired by Magistrate Stephen Vose had been presented to the Minister for Justice, David Smith, on behalf of an Advisory Committee to the Minster.
The Western Australian Ministry of Education Working party strongly endorsed the civic education idea but the need for a suitable building and location was viewed as paramount. Thereafter the driving force in the search for a location was Peter McHugh, the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. Throughout 1991 discussions took place, particularly with the Office of Government Accommodation. The old Hale School building remained as the preferred site although it was known that occasional proposals from developers to gain the site for commercial developers were also raised. On one occasion in May 1992 Clerk Peter McHugh, on behalf of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Mike Barnett, recorded that he had inspected the old Hale School buildings and grounds with Bob Allen and Allen Buckley of the Building Management Authority and also Chris Porter. As McHugh recorded:
The West wing is a valuable building historically and it seems that almost ideal for the establishment of a Parliamentary and Constitutional Museum incorporating a Parliamentary Education Centre, (perhaps later combining with the Electoral Education Centre) supported by a Parliamentary Archives and Parliament House art collection storage and renovation in association with the Museum. One of the rooms could be set aside for community and other general public interest groups to mount displays for set short periods. Facilities for teacher in-servicing in Parliamentary, Constitutional, and similar areas and also for other related special groups can be provided. There is great potential to establish a public coffee shop with both indoor and outdoor facilities in association with the museum. That would be able also to service group visitors to Parliament House perhaps in a separate area enabling members to address them privately. Depending on organization of the space, it could also be used for Parliamentary receptions. An area can be set aside for specialist research and accommodating short term Parliamentary Visitors.
The wide scope of ideas tabulated by Peter McHugh did contain a reference to an Electoral Education Centre. The Western Australian Electoral Commission had been represented at the Education Ministry’s Active Citizenship Committee’s consideration of a civic education centre and the search for a location. However, at this juncture the Electoral Commission had decided to establish its own Election Education Centre in Hamersley Road, Subiaco, at the site previously occupied by the Museum of Childhood. This Museum had been relocated at the Claremont Campus of Edith Cowan University (previously the Western Australian College of Education). The Minister for Electoral Reform at the time of the announcement was Dr Geoffrey Gallop, a future Premier, who was very committed to civic education. As Premier, Dr Gallop, had a Citizenship Office, encompassing civic education within the Department of Premier and Cabinet. During a period when Opposition Spokesperson for Electoral Matters, Gallop, had made a submission in 1994 to the Prime Minister’s Civics Expert Group. He recognised some of the difficulties faced by political educators in Australia, namely the complex Federal and State Constitutions, the different tiers of government and the complicated electoral systems. In his view the advances made in Western Australia by the Parliamentary Education Office, the Electoral Education Centre and the Francis Burt Legal Education Centre should be examined. According to Gallop:
It ought not be impossible, however, to distil from our system the broad principles that apply (e.g. democracy, human rights, voting, responsibility, etc. and the broad institutions that exist (eg. Westminster, Bicameralism, Federalism, Judicial Review etc.) and work up a curriculum in political education that could then be implemented through each of the States Department of Education.
During Dr Gallop’s term as a Minister for both Education and Parliamentary and Electoral Reform, the momentum for civic education was driven by professional organizations which promulgated the teaching of the social sciences. The Social Science Association with its committee chaired by Dr Gil McDonald from Curtin University of Technology met regularly to promote the social sciences with a high priority being given to citizenship education. One issue of AXIS, a Social Science Assocaition of Western Australia Magazine for Teachers, was devoted to citizenship education. Co-ordinated by Harry Phillips and edited by Glenda Parkin and Yvonne Mettam, the contents included ‘Citizenship: The Concept’ and a resume of the recent publications and resources in civics and citizenship education. Glenda Parkin, later to be the principal at St. Stephen’s College and then Penrhos College, was to write a Ph.D. thesis supervised by Gil McDonald entitled, ‘Confusion, Clarity, Cohesion, Disintegration: A Study of Curriculum Decision-Making in Citizenship Education (2002)’.
Some of the personnel who were active in the Social Science Association also played a role in the formation of a Civics Consortium. Again Gil McDonald was prominent in the exercise with Dr Judy Robison from Murdoch University having a leading hand as Director. The Consortium had representation from the universities, the Education Ministry, many interested teachers and other agencies including Parliament and the Western Australia Electoral Commission. At one stage, when debating the direction of the Consortium more than twelve months before the Centre was opened in October 1997 it was recorded that in seeking a meeting with Education Minister Colin Barnett on a range of civic education matters the matter of ‘Constitutional Centre representation’. would be raised. A successful research grant from the Commonwealth Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs (DEETYA) led to the publication in 1997 of a quality work titled Active Citizenship: A Resource Manual for Teachers. Geraldine Ditchburn, later a lecturer at Murdoch University, who also played an integral role in the national Discovering Democracy school education program, was the project officer. Meanwhile at the University of Western Australia education lecturer David Carter, was regularly at the forefront of the quest for civic education with numerous publications in the field.
Dr Gallop had been Minister during the deliberations of the Royal Commission into Commercial Activities of Government and Other Matters, widely known as the WA Inc Royal Commission. The Commission received submissions that political education in Western Australia should be enhanced and in their report the Commissioners recognised that ‘knowledge of our constitutional and administrative arrangements is a pre-requisite for effective action within our democracy’. While acknowledging the complex and dynamic nature of modern representative government it was still necessary to ensure that the community was politically informed. As the 1992 Report stated:
No single agency or measure alone can ensure a society sufficiently informed about its civic institutions. It is in the character of a democratic community that many should be expected to contribute to this task. There are roles for our schools, universities and professional and public interest groups, to say nothing of the critical responsibility of the media. The Parliament also should have an important to playing this educative process. It can do much to ensure the availability of basic information about our institutions of representative and responsible government. It can equip its members to fulfil their representative role.
The WA Inc. Royal Commission gave political education emphasis to Parliament, educational institutions and the media but did not mention the newly established Electoral Education Centre at Subiaco, or the Francis Burt Law Education Centre in Perth and Fremantle, which had been created to foster legal education. In recommending the terms of reference for a proposed Commission on Government (COG) it did not specify a civic education dimension, although it must be recognised that the Royal Commissioner’s primary task was to report upon whether there had been corruption, illegal conduct or improper conduct in a range of business matters and whether ‘changes in the law of the State, or in administration or decision making procedures, are necessary, or desirable in the public interest’. After a delay of some two years the COG was established in late 1994 with modified terms of reference to inquire into 24 specified matters and any other matters it considered relevant to preventing corrupt, illegal or improper conduct by public officials. The COG soon prepared valuable educational discussion papers, conducted public hearings and seminars and received submissions. When the five COG reports were finally published it was clear that the Commission had made a significant contribution to the literature on Western Australian politics and law.
The COG Committee gave civic education due consideration and made a specific recommendation (Number 253) in the following terms:
- To enhance public scrutiny of the government system and to prevent corrupt, illegal or improper conduct, the government should make a much greater effort to:
(a) ensure easily accessible information about the operation of government is available to the public;
(b) provide and fund civics education; and endure that in the conduct of government, there is regular and wide ranging consultation with the broad community.
- A review should be conducted for the purposes of investigating and assessing:
(a) the effectiveness of measures to increase public awareness of the systems of government; and
(b) changes to the operation of the public sector, arising form the recommendations made by the Commission on Government introduced to prevent corrupt, illegal or improper conduct.
- The investigation and assessment should be undertaken by a commission of inquiry that is required to consult widely and openly and should be established by the end of the year.
No commission of inquiry or review was undertaken although in retrospect it would have probably been a very valuable exercise. In fact the scale of the COG civic education recommendations have not been widely acknowledged but it did not chose to specifically endorse the Constitutional Centre concept, or other educational recommendations, of the 1994 McCusker Western Australian Constitutional Committee. One of the submissions before the COG had recommended consideration of:
(i) the consolidation of the Western Australian Constitution to facilitate teaching about its key features. This exercise, in draft from, has already been undertaken by the Joint Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council on the Constitution tabled in October 1991. A preamble, similar to the one presently incorporated in the document, should also be included. Moreover, an educational schedule, could also facilitate an understanding of the Constitution. this addendum would not be part of the ‘legal’ Constitution but would be available for educators seeking to explain its features to the public.
(ii) a reference for State agencies such as the Western Australian Parliament, the Electoral Education Centre, the Francis Burt Education (Perth and Fremantle) to continue to develop their programs for schools and the community. Co-ordination of these activities would be beneficial.
(iii) the desirability of the rudiments of government and law being taught in schools combined with an appreciation of the historical context of the development of these institutions. The Education Department and the Secondary Education Authority have roles in this exercise as do the teacher education authorities.
(iv) the need for co-operation with the federal education offices particularly the Commonwealth Parliament and the Australian Electoral Commission. It is assumed these agencies remain cognizant of the other two tiers of government, namely State and Local.
(v) allocation of funds for suitable texts and required research for political education. That the tendering procedure for these exercises be administered by those who have expertise in this domain with consideration being given to the needs of the broader public.
(vi) Endorsement, as determined appropriate, of the educational recommendations of the Report of the Western Australian Constitutional Committee, including the establishment of a Constitutional Centre.
The Commission on Government, in similar terms to the McCusker Committee, had recommended that a people’s convention, half directly elected by the people, should be established by legislation to review the constitutional laws of the State and formulate a new Constitution for Western Australia. A number of topics for review by the Convention were specified, some of which the Commission had found to be contentious in its public deliberations. The draft Constitution produced by the people’s convention should be submitted to Parliament for its consideration and presented to the people for their approval at a referendum. Of course the people’s convention was also never called although a similar model was later adopted for Commonwealth People’s Convention in 1998. The focus of this convention was the republic question with extended debate being given to a new preamble. COG, too, had also sought debate about a new preamble for the Western Australian Constitution.
Without doubt the Commission on Government with its commitment to civic education and constitutional reform had maintained the momentum for civic education which had been amplified by the growing republican debate and deliberations of the WA Inc. Royal Commission. In fact one of the COG Commissioners, well known media personality and civic education advocate, Anne Conti, was also a foundation Advisory Board Member for the Constitutional Centre. Further evidence of the continued wide support for the designation of the old Hale School as a Constitutional Centre had been documented in the Legislative Council on 2 June 1994 under the sub-heading:
Adjournment Debate-Constitutional History Museum-Old Hale School Building, Parliament Place, Ideal Site
The Hon. John Cowdell, a future President of the Legislative Council, who had been very active in the promotion of political education as a member of the former Secondary Education Authority Politics Syllabus Committee and political lecturer (and future Advisory Board Member of the Western Australian Constitutional Centre) made the following statement:
In North Terrace, Adelaide, next to Parliament House stands the old Parliament House of South Australia. This houses South Australia’s constitutional history museum and the history trust of South Australia. In Parliament Place stands the old Hale School building which is to be renovated by the Building Management Authority over the next 18 months, and that building will be restored to conservation standard. This is an ideal site for a Western Australian constitutional history museum.
After some clarification about the buildings on the Hale School site John Cowdell went on the say:
I make the point that the further of the two buildings at the … corner of Havelock Street and Parliament Place is a little large in its own right for a constitutional history museum. The South Australian government found that once it moved its constitutional history museum into the old Parliament House it was a little too large for one function. At present we have the opportunity of accommodating two other bodies in this building. The National Trust of Australia is willing to give up its location in the old observatory and move to the building I refer to, and the Royal Western Australian Historical Society is eager to sell its premises in Nedlands and move to a joint location with the National Trust. This building could house a state heritage centre with a constitutional history museum, with the Royal Western Australian Historical Society and the National Trust. This will yield us in the parliamentary precinct that magnificent building, the old observatory. I have often shared the views of Hon Phil Pendal that it would make an excellent state reception centre. In the next couple of years the potential exists to establish a state heritage centre…. I bring this to the attention of this Chamber and Parliament, and trust that Parliament and the Government will not let this opportunity pass.
Nevertheless, by April of the next year in 1995 John Cowdell was forced to raise concern that the opportunity to establish the Centre was being lost. As he told the Legislative Council during an Address-in-Reply debate:
I note with some concern certain rumours about the complete collapse of the idea of a constitutional collapse of the idea of a constitutional history museum. I hope that the government has not succumbed to the occasional proposals from developers to take over the old Hale School buildings and to use them for commercial purposes.[46
John Cowdell’s remarks had been made in the context of what he considered the ‘stalled’ educational effort of the Parliament over the last five years. Within a few months, however, John Cowdell would have some of his concerns allayed when Premier Court made an announcement in the Legislative Assembly on 29 June 1995 that $100,000 dollars was to be made available to explore to the feasibility of establishing a constitutional centre and museum.
The Constitutional Centre Opportunity is Taken
Following Premier Richard Court’s parliamentary announcement of the allocation of funds for the feasibility study the momentum for the project became apparent. On 18 August 1995 a meeting took place on the Hale School site with officers from the Department of Premier and Cabinet, the Education Department, Parliament House, the Parliamentary Education office and the Electoral Commission to further plans for the Centre. Significantly, on 13 September 1995 Hon. Norman Moore, the Minister for Education and Parliamentary and Electoral Affairs wrote a letter to Premier Richard Court, a former Hale School student, under the heading ‘Civics Education Centre’.
Representatives of your Ministry, the Education Department, the Parliamentary Education Office and the WA Electoral Commission have met in recent weeks to consider the establishment of a Civics Education Centre at the old Hale School site in West Perth.
Such a centre would bring together parliamentary education, constitutional history and electoral education at one site. This would be consistent with your announcement on 29 June 1995 that the State Government will spend $100,000 to explore setting up a constitutional museum and public education program on our political system.
I have received a report on this matter from the Electoral Commissioner for WA, Les Smith, and copy of that report is attached.
I strongly recommend that the old Hale School Buildings be refurbished for the purposes outlined in the proposal and that an early start be made to implementing it.
The accompanying letter of 30 August 1995 signed by Les Smith as the Western Australian Electoral Commissioner, indicated to Minister Moore, ‘I seek your endorsement please of the preliminary proposal for the Civics Education Centre and the planning to be progressed’. Smith had sent a copy of his letter to Steve Wood, the Acting Director of the Policy Office at the Ministry of Premier and Cabinet. He also mentioned that the Centre concept was mooted in 1991/92 but the Hale School buildings were still being occupied by the Distance Education Centre of the Education Department at that time. Reference was also made to a meeting on 18 August 1995 with Dr John Read, District Superintendent of Education from the Swanbourne District office. Dr Reid had indicated the Education Department’s strong support for the Centre, partly because the plan to shift the Electoral Education Centre from Subiaco to the old Hale School site provided an opportunity to better accommodate more Subiaco district primary pupils for the 1996 school year.
If the government was concerned about public opinion towards a constitutional museum or centre a survey conducted in July 1995 had registered strong support for such a project. In favour were some 64 per cent of respondents drawn evenly from supporters of the major parties. After accounting for those who were unsure only 21 per cent indicated disagreement with the idea. In the same survey 76 per cent of respondents indicated they either knew ‘hardly anything’ or ‘nothing’ about the State’s Constitution. Similar findings were recorded about Australia’s Commonwealth Constitution. Contrary to views in some quarters survey evidence indicated the some 20 percent of electors claimed to be ‘very interested in politics’, with a further 46 per cent having claimed to be ‘quite interested’. These findings were published in a newspaper article in which had repeated the case for the creation of a constitutional centre.
The next major governmental step was the appointment in December 1995 of Kevin Palassis Architects to undertake a feasibility study on the ‘Proposed Constitutional Centre’ at the former Hale School Building, Havelock Street, West Perth for the Government Property Office and the Western Australian Building Management. Previous to this task the architectural firm had prepared two reports on the Hale School Building in association with the BMA in terms of a ‘Conservation Plan Former Hale School Buildings, Havelock Street, West Perth (April 1993)’ and a feasibility study for the conversion of the western building into ‘the harvest Centre for Professional Excellence in Teaching (February 1995). Thereafter the formal lodging of the study with Bill Marmion, the executive officer at the Ministry of the Premier and Cabinet had been sent by Bruce Hoar, the Project Leader at the Western Australian Building Management Authority on 13 March 1996.
In early February 1996 Ian Johnston, as the Chief Executive of Government Property Office, sent a memo to Premier Richard Court in which he indicated:
as requested in our previous discussion on the establishment of a Civics Education Centre in the Old Hale School Building, arrangements have been made for you to meet with the consultant, Kevin Palasssis, on Friday 9 February 1996 at 9.15 AM. Both myself and Steve Wood will be attending. Please find attached some briefing notes for your information.
Another step towards the establishment of the Constitutional Centre was contained in a memo dated 16 February 1996 from Stephen Carrick, the Conservation Architect at the Western Australian Building Management Authority (BMA), to Alan Piper the Executive Director of the BMA. It was made clear that the Premier ‘has recently shown a strong interest in the Old Hale School, Western Building’. Three groups said to have registered an interest in occupying the building were the Electoral Education Centre (EEC), the Parliamentary Education Office (PEO), and the Centenary Committee. It was indicated that Palassis Architects had been commissioned to prepare a feasibility study which was soon to be completed. The memo recorded that the Premier had indicated that while the Parliamentary Education Office could utilize exhibition and seminar space they should not occupy office space in the building. It was also made clear that the operation was to be called the Constitutional Centre and was to be eventually managed by a Complex Manager.
In further correspondence to Premier Court dated 27 May 1996, Stephen Wood, the Acting Chief Executive Policy Office in the Department of Premier, indicated that since the Premier had been briefed on the project by architect Kevin Palassis following the submission of his feasibility study, a workshop had been held to explore concepts for the Constitutional Centre. It was indicated that the BMA had assessed five design consultants for the project and were ready to appoint one as soon as authorization to proceed is obtained. If the design consultants could be soon appointed it was indicated that the Centre should be completed ready for opening by February 1997, ideally within the Festival of Perth season. An invitation was also conveyed to the Premier to be shown, when convenient, through the Old Hale School building, as soon as possible. Most significantly the typed letter contained a handwritten note which stated:
N.B. Discussed with Premier and Ian Fletcher today. Premier approved project to go ahead. S. Wood 6/6/96.
Thereafter the records indicate a memorandum also dated 6 June 1996 from Bill Marmion, Principal Policy Consultant, Federal Affairs Branch, to Bruce Hoar, an experienced architect with the Building Management Authority (and Old Haleian), who had been designated as the architectual project leader. Under the heading ‘Old Hale School Building-Project Approval’ Marmion communicated to Hoar:
Further to your memo to me dated 3 May 1996, the Premier has approved the project to go ahead. You can proceed with the appointment of the successful consultant.
I have attached a copy of Stephen Wood’s advice to this effect for your records.
At the Ministry of Premier and Cabinet, Mrs Felicity Morel-Ednie Brown was chosen as the Project Manager of the ‘Old Hale School Development’. Felicity Morel had been employed in the Policy Co-ordination Unit in the Ministry of the Premier and Cabinet as a Policy Officer. In that role from early 1996 she was responsible for the project management to renovate and establish the Centre, as well as to create the initial exhibition. She was in constant communication with both Bruce Hoar and Steve Carrick at the Department of Contract and Management Services. As mentioned, Bruce Hoar, had been at the forefront of providing the architectural expertise for what had finally been called the Constitutional Centre. Included in the scope of Bruce Hoar’s role had been discussions with the Western Australian Electoral Commission. After viewing the plans to architecturally re-design the old Hale School the Western Australian Electoral Commission, through its Community Awareness Manager, Chris Avent and Education Officer Nigel Bushby, had concerns about the ground floor plan which was initially formulated. Also involved at various stages was Bruce Bott, the parliamentary librarian in consultation with parliamentary education and information officers Sheila Mills and David Klemm, particularly in relation to a ‘Mock Chamber’ being included in the design of the Constitutional Centre. However, in a joint earlier letter signed by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, James Clarko, and President of the Legislative Council, Clive Griffiths, it was indicted that the use of the old Hale School facilities ‘for parliamentary services on a joint use basis was not achievable for the foreseeable future’. The ‘Mock Chamber’ was retained but modifications were undertaken, after arrangements were approved by Premier Court in July 1996. During this period Electoral Affairs Minister Norman Moore was involved in the transfer of the Electoral Education Centre from Hammersley Road in Subiaco to the new ‘proposed centre’ in Havelock Street, West Perth. Minister for Works and Services, Colin Minson (another old Haleian), was also involved in the negotiations.
Foundation Constitutional Centre Director and Opening
Until Cabinet proceedings are made available to the public after the 30 year embargo has expired it will probably not be known whether the final official decision to establish the Western Australian Constitutional Centre was a Cabinet decision. It is known that on 21 July 1997, on the recommendation of a selection panel, Felicity Morel Ednie-Brown, was appointed as the foundation Constitutional Centre Director. Some three months latter the Centre was opened by Governor Michael Jeffrey with three clear principal aims with subsidiary goals and objectives. The principal arms were specified as:
- To promote awareness of our federal system of government with particular emphasis on its constitutional basis.
- To encourage balanced debate about the development of the system; and
- To educate the general public of Western Australia about our electoral and parliamentary system.
The Goals and Objectives have been formulated as:
- The Centre should be the focal point for civics education in WA and be highly respected at both the State and national levels as a leader in the field;
- The Centre should be known as a dynamic and exciting place to visit on a regular basis;
- Centre programs should be responsive to current issues and contemporary themes;
- Providing an historical perspective is an important part of the Centre’s role;
- Centre programs should encourage learned discussion and research as well as popular debate;
- There should be a balance between providing information and stimulating debate; and
- The Centre should provide high quality services to regional Australia.
After becoming Governor General Michael Jeffrey then spoke of the Constitutional Centre at his 25 January 2005 Australia Day address. As Jeffrey said:
There is scope, however, through our schools, to engage students by placing more emphasis on the informed teaching of civics and citizenship.
Learning about voting is just one aspect-there is far more.
The Constitutional Centre of Western Australia is a superb educational model where student and visitors learn how our political system evolved and works now, its relevance to them and the influence on governance they can have.
The narrative of the Constitutional Centre’s development and achievements, firstly under the Directorship of Felicity Morel Ednie-Brown from 21 July 1997 to 15 January 1999, then with Kerry Ross, a Principal Policy Officer, Federal Affairs, from the Department of Premier and Cabinet as Acting Director, followed by much longer service of Betty O’Rourke as Executive Director, who was awarded a Federation Medal in 2003, is deserving of a separate publication. In conclusion, though, it should be appreciated that while the advocates of civic and political education date back to the ancients the drive for the creation of the Centre, as documented took nearly a decade, with the last seven years to 1997 being of particular significance. To help formulate the policy direction of the Constitutional Centre Executive Director has had the benefit of an Advisory Board. The inaugural meeting of the Board, with Malcolm McCusker QC as the Chairperson, took place on 20 October 1997. The Deputy Chair was former Labor Party Deputy Premier and Leader of the Opposition, Ian Taylor. To help ensure a perceived political balance former Liberal Party Minister and Leader of the Opposition, Bill Hassell, was also a foundation Board member. Other members of the Board were well known historian and political commentator, Professor David Black, lawyer Susan Fielding, prominent public servant John Pritchard, and Anne Conti, a former television personality and Commission on Government member.
A number of favourable factors culminated in the opening of the Constitutional Centre. The revival of the civic education movement in Australia, with perhaps less ideological fervour in the political party scene, in the mid 1980s had a strong base in Western Australia. The WA Inc. Royal Commission, and its creation the Commission on Government, although focused on the broader issues of governance added impetus for a better informed polity. Furthermore, the rise of the republic question provided clear realisation of the dearth of public understanding of the constitutional fabric in Western Australia and beyond. Support from key office holders at Parliament, and some parliamentary Members, together with senior officials at the Electoral Commission, the Education Department, and civic educators in the universities, was very significant. Ultimately the expansion of the terms of reference of the McCusker Constitutional Committee gave rise to the formulation of a specific recommendation ‘that the State Government support the establishment of a Constitutional Centre, incorporating a museum and with community education functions, ideally to be situated near Parliament House’. Premier Richard Court armed with the Constitutional Committee recommendation and the Commission on Government commitment to civic education outcomes, instigated a feasibility study of the creation of the Centre at the favoured old Hale School site. Officials within the Department of Premier and Cabinet, in consultation with architects at the Building Management Authority, thoroughly investigated the options. The architects at the BMA, in concert with Premier Court, appeared keen to preserve an educational function for the Hale buildings. Ultimately, after receiving advice from Electoral Affairs Minister Norman Moore, Richard Court gave his imprimater with approval for the Centre in June 1996. As the Governor General later recognised, one of the most unique institutions of its kind in Australia, and perhaps the world, had been created.
National Well-being: A System of National Citizenship Indicators and Benchmarks (1996), Report by the Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee, p.77.
See Appendix One: Committee Member ship of the Western Australian Constitutional Committee (Malcolm McCusker, QC, Chairperson).
MEMBERSHIP OF WESTERN AUSTRALIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COMMITTEE 1993
Malcom McCusker (Chairperson)
David Black (Associate Professor of History and Politics, Curtin University of Technology)
Jermy Buxton, (political consultant)
Jeff Carr (former Government Minister)
Harold Clough (Engineer and Company Director)
Donald Doig (former under secretary)
Bisica Gavranich (human resources consultant)
Kate George (lawyer)
William Jamieson (former Commodore, Western Command)
Annette Knight (Mayor of Albany)
Wayne Martin, QC
Van Phat Nguyen (Medical specialist)
Kerry Ross (Executive Officer)
TERMS OF REFRENCE FOR McCUSKER CONSTITUTIONAL COMMITTEE (1994)
The original terms of reference were announced on 14 October 1993. There were nine in number, six relating to the republican question and three to Australian federalism. In April 1994 the Premier gave his consent to the Terms of Reference being modified as set out below.
To consider, report, and make recommendations on the following matters:
1. Whether the reasons for Western Australian entering the federation remain valid and whether a federal system is the most appropriate form of government for Western Australia in the 21st century.
2. The principles that should guide the distribution of legislative and financial powers, financial responsibilities and administrative functions between the Commonwealth and the States.
3. The extent to which the current distribution of powers, as interpreted by the High court, accords with these principles.
4. What changes, if any, are desirable in the way in which powers are distributed in the Constitution, and/or in the actual distribution of powers and/or functions.
5. Practical ways to bring about desired changes in the current federal system, including (but not without limitation):
(a) constitutional alterations;
(b) giving the State a role in appointments to the High Court.
6. The implications for Western Australia, in terms of it is position in the federation, if the Commonwealth were to become a republic. In particular:
(1) whether the process of moving towards a republic would open up opportunities for Western Australia to enhance its standing in the federation; and
(2) the potential for a move to a republic to threaten or diminish State Government powers relative to those of the Commonwealth Government, and ways to ensure that potential, if any, is not realised.
7. The procedure and level of agreement from the States that should be required for the Commonwealth to become a republic.
8. If the Commonwealth were to become a republic, the arrangements that would be in the best interests of Western Australia for:
(i) the appointment of the Commonwealth head of state; and
(ii) the determination and specification of the powers and duties of the Commonwealth head of state.
9. If the Commonwealth were to become a republic, whether Western Australia should seek to retain its formal association with the monarchy.
10. If the Commonwealth became a republic, and Western Australia severed its association with the monarchy, whether a head of state should be retained by Western Australia. If so, the best arrangements for
(i) the appointment and tenure of the head of state for Western Australia; and
(ii) the determination and specification of his/her powers and duties.
11. Ways of ensuring adequate consultation with the powers and their participation in decision-making on the above matters.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS [EDUCATION] OF McCUSKER CONSTITUTIONAL COMMITTEE (1995)
EDUCATIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS (ONLY)
32. There is a need to provide balanced, non-partisan, high quality civic education that is readily available and suitable for people off all ages and backgrounds including people who have come from a different political culture.
33. It is recommended that the State Government support the establishment of a Constitutional Centre, incorporating a museum and with community education functions, ideally to be situated near Parliament House. (Italics added)
34. It is recommended that:
- Priority be given by the Education Department to the updating of existing curriculum material in the area of parliamentary and civic education.
- With the introduction of four-year teacher training courses mooted to commence in 1996, each trainee complete at least one unit of study in the area of civic and parliamentary education.
- In the course of any long-term restructuring of the year 11 and 12 school syllabuses and the Tertiary Education Examination requirements, provision be made for the inclusion of some measure of civic and parliamentary education in the program for all students.
- To enable the effective implementation of the above recommendations, funding be made available for the development of resource materials at appropriate levels relating to the Western Australian parliamentary and constitutional system.
35. Any citizenship courses for migrants should cover the federal nature of Australia’s system of government, sine many migrants have no prior experience of living in a federation.
36. It is recommended that the State Constitution Acts be consolidated in a single Act in a manner that facilitates teaching about its features.
37. It is recommended that the State Government support the establishment of a multi-disciplinary federalism research centre at one of the universities in Western Australia.
ROLES FOR A ‘CENTRE’ AND POSSIBLE LOCATION 1990
Discussion Paper: Parliamentary and Electoral Education Office in Western Australia by Dr Harry Phillips, September 1990.
Preamble: The paper was prepared in the light of developments in Western Australia following the release of the 1989 Senate Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training titled Education for Active Citizenship, the Report of the Parliamentary Standards Committee (May 1990) the conduct of an Active Citizenship Seminar at Murdoch University on 23 February 1990, the work of the three Ministry of Education Committees on Active Citizenship (one with a focus on a Centre chaired by Dr Harry Phillips) and particularly a visit to the Constitutional Museum in South Australia in August 1990 by Clerk of the Legislative Assembly Peter McHugh and Dr Harry Phillips.
There is a unanimous viewpoint that the suggested Parliamentary and Electoral Education Office should be located within walking distance of the Parliament. Suitable venues have been investigated. A section of the old Hale School building (formerly occupied by Distance Education) has been regarded as most suitable (page 10).
Functions of Office
The functions of the office and the programme of activities will be partly determined by the location. A tabulation of possible roles is provided below;
1. Conducting and co-ordinating parliamentary and electoral education tours for students and the public. In addition the organization of educational visits to country schools and metropolitan schools which are unable to visit Parliament.
2. Information centre on the availability of resources.
3. School information service on aspects of parliamentary education.
4. Organisation of Student Parliaments (and Law Week etc.) as guided by the Parliament.
5. Organisation of Teacher In-Service Courses in Parliamentary and Electoral Education including consultation with the Social Studies Teachers’ Association and the Politics Teachers’ Association.
6. Liaison and co-operation with the Education Ministry, Catholic Education Authority (course in Politics, History, Law, and Current Events).
7. Liaison with tertiary institutions, particularly teacher education and social science departments.
8. Liaison with Municipal Government Associations etc.
9. Liaison and co-operation with the Commonwealth Education Office and Education Offices in the various State Parliaments. Similar co-operation with the Australian Electoral Commission.
10. Preparation of resources for Parliament and the Electoral Commission for schools and the community. This includes co-operation and consultation with the Parliamentary History Advisory Committee.
11. Display centre of resources for parliamentary and electoral education.
12. Seminars for business and community groups on the workings of the Parliament and the electoral system
13. Engagement in computer technology development currently taking place in political education.
14. Compilation of a Guest Speaker Register.
15. Compilation of a Volunteer’ Register.
16. Preparation of a visitor’s program for:
(i) Primary school pupils (year 5 syllabus-Local Government; Year 6 syllabus-State Government; Year 7 syllabus-Carrying Out the Law.
(ii) Lower secondary pupils (Unit curriculum ‘Australia’s Government’.
(iii) Upper secondary: Secondary Education Authority Year 11 Western Australian government (planned) and year 12 Tertiary Entrance Examination ‘Australian government’.
(iv) General public.
CONSTITUTIONAL CENTRE WORKSHOP
24 April 1996
Steve Wood Policy Officer (Premier and Cabinet)
Lyn Auld WA Electoral Commission
Chris Avent WA Electoral Commission
David Black WA Constitutional Committee
Bruce Bott Parliamentary Library
Ann Brake Fremantle Prison Museum
Jeremy Buxton WA Constitutional Committee
Steve Carrick Building Management Authority
Alphonse de Kluyver Constitutional Centenary Foundation
Ivan Lundberg Centenary of Federation Committee
Harry Phillips Edith Cowan University
Bill Marmion Federal Affairs branch (Premier and Cabinet)
Kerry Ross Federal Affairs Branch (Premier and Cabinet)
Key Issues Identified by the Constitutional Centre Workshop.
Key Issues Identified
12. How to best administer and fund the project (9 dots)
13. How to accommodate the varying objects of the centre tenants and their operating programs (6 dots)
14. How to keep the Centre vital, exciting and relevant (6 dots)
15. How to attract the interest of the public (including tourists). (5 dots)
16. How to provide a forum for balanced debate on constitutional issues (3 dots)
17. Need to define who the target audiences are. (3 dots)
18. How to achieve ‘neutrality’ in coverage for the centre (2 dots)
19. How to ensure the project has sustainability longevity. (1 dot)
20. How to address the various aspects of the government process in the proposed Centre. (No dots)
21. How to continue educating students. (No dots)
22. How to educate the adult population (No dots)
23. How to market the Centre (No dots)
24. How to make sure the centre usage is compatible with other precinct building. (No dots)
25. How to incorporate an interpretation of the building into the activities of the Centre (No dots)
26. 15. How to co-ordinate/align the activities of the Centre vis a vis other agencies. (No dots)
27. How to best administer and fund the project (9 dots)
28. How to accommodate the varying objects of the centre tenants and their operating programs (6 dots)
29. How to keep the Centre vital, exciting and relevant (6 dots)
30. How to attract the interest of the public (including tourists). (5 dots)
31. How to provide a forum for balanced debate on constitutional issues (3 dots)
32. Need to define who the target audiences are. (3 dots)
33. How to achieve ‘neutrality’ in coverage for the centre (2 dots)
34. How to ensure the project has sustainability longevity. (1 dot)
35. How to address the various aspects of the government process in the proposed Centre. (No dots)
36. How to continue educating students. (No dots)
37. How to educate the adult population (No dots)
38. How to market the Centre (No dots)
39. How to make sure the centre usage is compatible with other precinct building. (No dots)
40. How to incorporate an interpretation of the building into the activities of the Centre (No dots)
41. 15. How to co-ordinate/align the activities of the Centre vis a vis other agencies. (No dots)
CONSTITUTIONAL CENTRE WORKSHOP
29 August 1996
Felicity Morel Project Manager, Old Hale School Development
Anne Brake Curator, Fremantle Prison
Bill Edgar Curator, Hale School
Brain de Garis Dean, School of Social Sciences, Murdoch
Bruce Bott Parliamentary Library
Chris Avent Community Education, Electoral Centre
David Black Curtin University of Technology
David Breen Project Architect, Cox, Howlett & Bailey
David Klemm Parliamentary Education
Dianne Chambel Celebrate Western Australia
Greg Howlett Principal, Cox, Howlett & Bailey
Jenny Gregory Director, Centre for Western Australian History
Mara Basanovic Celebrate Western Australia
Margaret Anderson Museum of Western Australia
Matt Trinca Centre for Western Australia
Norman Hetherington University of Western Australia
Sheila Mills Parliamentary Education
Steve Carrick WA Department of Contract and Management
Steve Wood Policy Office, Ministry of Premier and Cabinet`
Points Raised by the Group as Having Importance
- That the progression towards self Government were orderly and slow, not revolutionary;
- That there was a lack of push for self Government until the need to raise loans was encountered;
- Economic consequences of self Government-Responsible Government was watershed for railway, land, development, of culture, growth of population and building;
- That not all groups were enfranchised;
- That Aboriginal history should be done in consultation with Aboriginal people and not be focused solely on a Eurocentric interpretation;
- That the exhibition should include figures who were not famous;
- That the tone should not be celebratory;
- That the use of the term Representative Government is somewhat misleading (Use of Self Government in lieu?)
Important issues raised in relation to the identified themes.
Aboriginal context; qualification for voting; issues of exclusion; that there is no single document that is the Western Australian constitution; female suffrage; and Proclamation Day.
Possible Future Exhibitions
Female suffrage; the role of local government; background to secession; the role of gold in federation; Acts of parliament 1890-1901 and how they still influence our society.
KEY MILESTONES IN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE WESTERN AUSTRALIAN CONSTITUTIONAL CENTRE
- BC. Publication of Politics by Aristotle 384-322 BC, The Politics of Aristotle (1946), Translated with Notes by Ernest Barker, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Book 111, ‘The Theory of Citizenship and Constitutions’.
WESTERN AUSTRALIAN CONSTITUTIONAL CENTRE FOUNDATION ADVISORY BOARD
Mr Malcolm McCusker, QC Chairman
Mr Ian Taylor Deputy Chairman
Professor David Black Member
Mr Bill Hassell Member
Mrs Anne Conti Member
Mrs Susan Fielding Member
Mr John Pritchard Member
Joint Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council on the Constitution, Final Report, Vol. 1, 1991, Perth: Parliament of Western Australia.
Kemp, Hon. David (1997), Discovering Democracy: Civics and Citizenship Education, Ministerial Statement, Minister For Schools, Vocational Education and Training.
Kennedy, Kerry; Watts, Owen; McDonald, Gilbert (1993), Citizenship Education for a New Age, Toowoomba: University of Southern Queensland.
Meertens, Grace (1997), ‘Forum to update political system’, The West Australian, 29 September.
‘National Well-being: A System of National Citizenship Indicators and Benchmarks’ (1996), Report by the Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee.
Overview of the Report of the Western Australian Constitutional Committee (1995), Perth: Ministry of Premier and Cabinet.
Palassis, Kevin (1996), Feasibility study on the ‘Proposed Constitutional Centre at the Former Hale School Building, Havelock Street, West Perth for the Government Property Office & The Western Australian Building Management Authority (February).
Phillips, Harry (1989), ‘Political Education in Australia ‘Well-Being’ for Youth’, The Australian Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 14, No. 2, 1989, pp. 21-34.
Phillips, Harry (1995), ‘Teach more politics’, The Sunday Times, 31 December, p. 25.
Phillips, Harry; Black, David; Bott, Bruce; and Fischer Tamara (1998), Representing the People: Parliamentary Government in Western Australia, Fremantle: Fremantle Arts Centre Press.
Phillips, Harry (1999), ‘Citizenship: An Historical Perspective’, The Social Educator, April, pp. 41-49.
Phillips, Harry (2006), ‘Civics education will boost our well-being’, The West Australian, 19 September, p. 20,
Report of the Parliamentary Standards Committee (1990), Perth: Parliament of Western Australia
Report of the Royal Commission into Commercial Activities of Government and Other Matters, Part 11(1992), Perth: Western Australia (5.6) at 5.12.
Report of the Western Australian Constitutional Committee (1995), Perth: Ministry of Premier and Cabinet.
Report by the Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee (1996), National Well-being: A System of National Citizenship Indicators and Benchmarks.
Report on the Administration of the Constitutional Centre of Western Australia, Report No. 43 (1999), Legislative Assembly, Perth: Western Australia.
‘Young need a political education’, The West Australian, 10 December 1996, p. 12.
Reynolds, Peter (2002), Preparing Teachers for a Civil Society, Perth: constitutional Centre of Western Australia.
Vose, Stephen (1992), Youth Legal Education in Western Australia, Advisory Committee to the Minister for Justice on Youth Legal Education, Perth: Office of the Family.
Whereas the People…Civics and Citizenship Education (1994), Civics Expert Group, Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.
Whereas the People…Civics and Citizenship Education (1994), Summary of the Report of the Civics Expert Group, Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.