In Adelaide (at the 1897 Australasian Federal Convention) Patrick McMahon Glynn urged that: “… God should be recognised and His blessing invoked, in the opening lines of our Constitution.” (Official Record of the Debates of the Australasian Federal Convention, III, p.1184). He stated:
“Right through the ages we find this universal sense of Divine inspiration – this feeling, that a wisdom beyond that of man shapes the destiny of states; that the institutions of men are but the imperfect instruments of a Divine and beneficent energy, helping their higher aims. Should we not, Sir, grant the prayer of the many petitions that have been presented to us, by recognising at the opening of our great future our dependence upon God – should we not fix in our Constitution the elements of reverence and strength, by expressing our share of the universal sense, that a Divine idea animates all our higher objects, and that the guiding hand of Providence leads our wanderings towards the dawn?” (p.1185).
Constitutional recognition of Almighty God was rejected by that meeting, but public concern continued as the upper and lower houses of Parliament in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, along with the lower house in Tasmania, urged such recognition. It gained the support of the Convention at its Melbourne session held in 1898, and was approved by the Australian people who voted at a referendum in 1899.
My two cents
I love this type of historical research, because it’s not the stuff you’d be told in a school, newspaper, radio, or television. How quickly people forget (or ignore) history and how important it is to have reminders of it, especially when it relates to public support of religion; I love how public concern and action toppled the original sentiments of the politicians.
Kudos to Family Voice Australia!
I also find the written expression and style of people in the 19th century interesting; it has some kind of elegance to it that you don’t really get nowadays (on that, you could draw a similar parallel with architecture as well).
d’Lima, D. (2008). Relying on the blessing of Almighty God. Available: http://www.fava.org.au/content/fol-pdf-doc/453. Last accessed 12th Dec 2012.