Unlike the American founding fathers, who were classical liberals, those who helped bring together the Commonwealth of Australia were social liberals.
From the very beginning of Australian history, utilitarianism was the dominant philosophy. Economic liberty, while seen as important, was never viewed as an inviolable freedom derived from natural law. Rather, private property could be abrogated whenever the “national interest” – as defined by the government – demanded it.
Yet despite its Bill of Rights and widespread ideological resistance to Big Government, the American experiment has reached approximately the same position as Australia. Both America and Australia are now social democracies with large welfare states. In America, there is also a gigantic warfare state. A country founded on libertarian principles has reached the same place as one founded on utilitarianism and expediency. What conclusion are we to draw from this state of affairs?
The most obvious would seem to be that limited government doesn’t work. The State always has a tendency to grow in size and scope.
A piece of paper known as ‘the Constitution’ cannot halt the growth of government. The American constitution is a relatively libertarian document. Yet it has proved ineffective in preventing the concentration of power.
I think it is clear, therefore, that constitutions are not what keeps government in its place. Only ideology and a commitment to liberty amongst the people can prevent government from growing, not pieces of paper that have been largely ignored by the judiciary anyway.