CHARTER OF THE COMMONWEALTH (FROM THE AUSTRALIAN HIGH COMMISSION)
On 20 March Prime Minister Julia Gillard tabled the Charter of the
Commonwealth in Australian Parliament and made the following remarks:
"I have the Commonwealth charter to table today. Today's Commonwealth
is diverse and it is multifaceted. It brings together two billion
people living in 54 countries, spanning all continents and major
religions. From its inception the Commonwealth has been underpinned and
sustained by the aspirations of its people for democratic governance,
tolerance of diversity and respect for human rights. Now, for the first
time in its history, the Commonwealth has a document which reflects the
Commonwealth spirit—a single statement signed by Her Majesty the Queen
setting out Commonwealth core values.
"This charter was a recommendation of the Eminent Persons Group,
whose report was presented to Commonwealth heads of government in Perth
in 2011. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Australia's
representative on that Eminent Persons Group, Mr Michael Kirby, for his
personal commitment to securing support for this charter. I would like
to thank the foreign minister, Senator Carr, and the former foreign
minister Kevin Rudd for their work in seeing the charter through to its
drafting and adoption.
"The challenge now for all Commonwealth members is to promote and
uphold the values set out in this charter. The future strength and unity
of the Commonwealth depends on this.
"As I table this charter today we also pay tribute to the
distinguished service of Queen Elizabeth as Head of the Commonwealth
over these many decades. The institution of the Head of the
Commonwealth, standing as it does above individual governments, has been
an asset of the Commonwealth since its foundation, and we need not be
reticent about its future. For Australia's part, I am sure the Queen's
successor as monarch will one day serve as Head of the Commonwealth with
the same distinction as Her Majesty has done.
"Speaker, today I present the Charter of the Commonwealth—an
important achievement of Australia's term as Commonwealth chair in
office—which has now been brought to fruition." http://www.canada.embassy.gov.au/otwa/charter.html
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