Bob Hawke
Bob Hawke (centre) with the original Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act. Image by PR HANDOUT IMAGE PHOTO

Two constitutions claim is sovereign citizen silliness

David Williams September 22, 2023

There are two Australian constitutions, one legitimate and one corporate.


False. Australia has just one constitution.

Social media posts claim Australia has two constitutions – the constitution adopted at Federation in 1901 and a corporate constitution linked to the nation’s financial registration in the US.

This is false. Experts told AAP FactCheck Australia has only one constitution and the claim is the handiwork of conspiracy theorists commonly referred to as sovereign citizens or “SovCits”.

The claim has been reignited by debate on the voice referendum, which proposes altering the Australian Constitution to recognise Indigenous people with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

Conspiracists are questioning which constitution should be changed.

This Facebook post (screenshot here) states: “Which Constitution are they going to change on the 14th? Is it our LAWFUL Real one or their fake green CORPORATE VERSION???”

A screenshot from one of the Facebook posts.
 The voice referendum has fuelled misinformation about the constitution. 

Another post includes a video of an Indigenous man opposing the voice.

“Which constitution are you going to go into,” he says (video mark 23sec).

“Is it the 1901 Constitution, which is now null and void, or is it the new American corporation, the American foreign, registered corporation constitution? Now no one knows that but our government is a registered organisation in America.”

He goes on to say: “There’s two constitutions at play.”

Australia is registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a routine process for the purpose of selling bonds and other financial instruments, but this is unrelated to the formation of a corporation.

The SEC requires most parties selling securities to provide certain information to potential buyers, as set out under the US Securities Act of 1933.

SEC filings show the Commonwealth of Australia, via its Washington embassy, has lodged a number of documents with the commission since 2002.

NSW and Queensland, for example, are also registered with the SEC for similar reasons.

Signage at the Treasury building in Canberra (file image)
 Australia is registered with the US SEC so it can borrow money and sell securities. 

Experts say being registered with the US SEC is routine for national and state governments and doesn’t make them corporations.

Associate Professor Harry Hobbs, a constitutional expert at the University of Technology Sydney, said the Australian government registered “The Commonwealth of Australia” as a Form 18-K entity for the purpose of issuing securities in the US.

“This is a requirement of US law if Australia wants to borrow money and sell securities,” Dr Hobbs told AAP FactCheck.

“Many governments around the world have done the same thing. It does not mean that Australia is now a corporation.”

Associate Professor Bruce Baer Arnold, from the University of Canberra’s Law School, co-authored a May 2023 journal article on the constitution and sovereign citizens.

He said government registration for borrowing purposes wasn’t exceptional.

“It’s a bureaucratic mechanism in a global financial system that requires registration,” Dr Arnold told AAP FactCheck in an email.

“Appearing in a register does not mean that the national (or state) government has ceased to exist or has been taken over by the US or World Bank or IMF or Bank of International Settlements.

“The Commonwealth of Australia is still recognised as a sovereign nation (ie we enact and implement our own law, independent of eg the UK and US and UN).

“That recognition is evident in international treaties and in diplomatic representation.”

The cover of a copy of the Australian Constitution (file image)
 There is only one Australian Constitution. 

Dr Arnold said the conspiracy around multiple constitutions among sovereign citizens was a variation of arguments that the Australian government is illegitimate because at some stage there was a “constitutional rupture“.

AAP FactCheck has previously reported on one such supposed rupture, the 1973 law that changed the Queen’s title in Australia, which sovereign citizens claim means all traffic fines are unlawful.

“The ‘we don’t have to obey because Australia is a corporation’ (on occasion a corporation controlled by the Rothschilds and/or George Soros – traditional anti-Semitism) claims started to get circulation in the 1970s as an echo of arguments in the United States,” Dr Arnold said.

“They’ve been propagated by word of mouth, commercial ‘training’ and advocacy by sov cit gurus … and social media.”

AAP FactCheck previously debunked claims Australia is a corporation here and here.

The Verdict

The claim Australia has two constitutions is false.

Experts told AAP FactCheck it is a sovereign citizens conspiracy theory, equating Australia’s registration with the US Securities and Exchange Commission as a corporate constitution.

The registration is standard government practice for the purpose of legally trading securities in the US. 

Australia has one constitution which was adopted at Federation in 1901.

False — The claim is inaccurate.

AAP FactCheck is an accredited member of the International Fact-Checking Network. To keep up with our latest fact checks, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

All information, text and images included on the AAP Websites is for personal use only and may not be re-written, copied, re-sold or re-distributed, framed, linked, shared onto social media or otherwise used whether for compensation of any kind or not, unless you have the prior written permission of AAP. For more information, please refer to our standard terms and conditions.