On 17 June 2021 the UK and Australian governments published an “agreement in principle” which outlines a free-trade agreement between the two countries, so solicitor Chris Hall has compiled his top five legal facts about the deal and all things AngloOz.
1. Spending koala-ty time together
The trade deal agreed last week covers issues regarding commerce between Australia and the UK, such as market access for services professionals and tariff-free goods.It places a cap for 15 years on tariff-free agricultural products and also provides for more visas for people under the age of 35.
Total trade in goods and services between the UK and Australia was worth £13.9bn in 2020. Whilst this makes Australia the UK’s 20th largest trading partner, the real importance of this deal is that it could be a template for future trade agreements with other countries and act as a gateway to the UK joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
2. Au-ssie what they have done there?
It was not until the passing of the Australia Act 1986 that the remaining possibility of the UK government passing legislation in Australia was eliminated. Up until 3 March 1986 it was technically possible for the UK government to make laws that were enforceable in Australia, to be involved in the Australian government and for an Australian court to appeal to a British court.
3. They Canberra to be away from us
Australia officially gained its independence from the UK after the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942. However, some states were still subject to some aspects of UK law. The Queen of England remains Australia’s Head of State and certain state bills still officially require the Queen’s approval a - she could theoretically disallow any state law within two years of it being passed. It is the job of the UK Foreign Minister (not any Australian minister) to advise the Queen on behalf of the Australian states.
4. A roo-thless nation
The English legal system was introduced to Australia through colonisation.Australia was considered by the English to be terra nullius lands (meaning ‘land belonging to no-one’) and, under the conventions of international law at the time, such land immediately adopted the laws of whichever colonial power had arrived.
5. Some emu-sing laws
Like most other countries, Australia has its share of strange laws. For example, under section 22 of the ‘Marketing of Potatoes Act 1946’, it is an offence to possess 50kg of potatoes in Western Australia.
Meanwhile, in Victoria it is an offence to undertake any rain-making activity unless you are authorised to do so.
And in South Australia one cannot offer to sell or hire a refrigerator, ice chest or similar that has any compartment bigger than 42.5 litres.