Constitution in times of war: Governor-General’s Prize 2016

Constitution Education Fund Australia is pleased to announce that the 2016 Governor-General’s Prize is now open for entries.

The Governor-General's Prize is an annual essay competition open to students who are enrolled in an undergraduate degree at an Australian university.

For over ten years, this prestigious competition has provided students with the opportunity to be recognised for their academic skill, talent, and research.  Only last week, High Court Justice Patrick Keane praised the significance of the Prize, when speaking at a Government House reception, at which Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove presented the Winterton Cup to last year’s winner, Marcus Roberts.

Each year, the judging panel for the Governor-General’s Prize has been chaired by a Justice of the High Court of Australia.  The Hon. Justice Stephen Gageler has agreed to chair the judging panel for 2016.

In 2013-14, the Governor-General’s Prize was sponsored by RECOGNISE, and invited students to investigate issues raised by the final report of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians. 

Last year, the Governor-General’s Prize took the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta as an opportunity to encourage students to investigate issues relating to the history of the rule of law and protection of freedom, both of which have their origin in Magna Carta, and also contemporary attitudes to democracy, as disclosed in the Museum of Australian Democracy’s Power of 1 Voice survey.

As part of the centenary of World War I in 2014-18, the 2016 Governor-General’s Prize gives students the opportunity to investigate issues relating to the Constitution in times of war.

Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove said, “By learning about the wartime experience of the Constitution, we as a nation come closer to understanding an important aspect Australia’s experience in World War One, what sprang from that, what it meant to Australia then, and all it means to us today.”

The 2016 Governor-General’s Prize gives students to opportunity to understand the role of the Constitution in times of war, and to appreciate the impact of these trying circumstances on the development of Australia’s system of government.

Entrants may select from a range of questions touching on topics such as:

  • 1916 and 1917 conscription plebiscites
  • Australian Delegation’s role at the Paris Peace Conference
  • impact of war on the relationship between the States and the Commonwealth
  • scope of the Australian Parliament’s defence power
  • role of Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Defence Force.

To read the full list of questions, click here.

CEFA has recently announced its proposal for establishing the Australian Constitution Centre.

The Governor-General’s Prize will form an integral part of the Australian Constitution Centre’s initiatives.  To learn more about this exciting proposal, and to find out how you can support it, click here.

Entries in the Governor-General’s Prize close on 30 June 2016. 

For more information, go to: