The following article provides a shallow investigation on potential acts of treason against Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second. The basis of discussion revolves around comments made by Mr Hong Muy Lim in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria. The content is provided as a question to the reader and not a statement of fact.
On the 15th of April, 2010 a curious statement was made in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria. Hong Lim, the Member for Clayton made the following statement:
"To move, That this House pays homage to the Premier..." (1) (Premier John Brumby)
On the 9th of June, 2010 Mr Lim also made the following comment:
"I am delighted to be joining other members in singing praises about this budget brought down by our illustrious Treasurer. Tonight I am going to pay homage." (2) (Treasurer John Lenders)
To provide context to these statements, the following definitions are provided by Black's Law Dictionary (3):
homage (hom-ij). (14c) In feudal times, a ceremony that a new tenant performed for the lord to acknowledge the tenure. • This was the most honorable service that a free tenant might do for a lord. In the ceremony, kneeling before the lord, the tenant placed his hands between the lord's hands while saying, "I become you man from this day forward, of life and limb and earthly honor, and to you will be faithful and loyal, and bear you faith, for the tenements that I claim to hold of you, saving the faith that I owe unto our sovereign lord the king, so help me God."
"Homage is an oath of fidelity, acknowledging himself to be the lord's man: wherein the tenant must be ungirt, uncovered, kneel upon both knees, and hold both his hands together between the lord's hands sitting before him. This is to be done only to the lord himself." Sir Henry Finch, Law, or a Discourse Thereof 143 (1759).
homage ancestral (hom-ij an-ses-trel). [Law French] A type of homage in which a tenant and the tenant's ancestors have held immemorially of another by the service of homage. • This long-standing relationship bound the lord to warrant the title and to hold the tenant clear of all services to superior lords. — Also spelled homage auncestral (aw-mahzh on-se-stral).
homage liege (hom-ij leej). Homage due the sovereign alone as supreme lord, done without any saving or exception of the rights of other lords. — Also termed homagium ligium (he-may-jee-em li-jee-em).
liege lord, n. Hist. SEE LIEGE (3).
liege, n. Hist. 1. A vassal bound to feudal allegiance. — Also termed liege man; liege woman. 2. A loyal subject of a monarch or other sovereign. 3. A feudal lord entitled to allegiance and service; a sovereign or superior lord. — Also termed (in sense) liege lord.
liege homage, n. Hist. Homage paid by one sovereign to another, including pledges of loyalty and services.
It is appears on face value that Mr Lim is proclaiming that Mr Brumby and Mr Lenders are lords; monarchs or sovereigns. Indeed, it appears he desired for the Parliament of Victoria to pay homage to John Brumby! There is only one Sovereign in the Commonwealth of Australia, that currently being Her Majesy Queen Elizabeth the Second.
Allegiance and treason
Members of the Commonwealth are defined as subjects in the Constitution. The following text is taken from Black's Law Dictionary (4):
subject, n. (14c) 1. One who owes allegiance to a sovereign and is governed by that sovereign's laws <the monarchy's subjects>.
allegiance. 1. A citizen's or subject's obligation of fidelity and obedience to the government or sovereign in return for the benefits of the protection of the state. Allegiance may be either an absolute and permanent obligation or a qualified and temporary one.
acquired allegiance. The allegiance owed by a naturalized citizen or subject.
actual allegiance. The obedience owed by one who resides temporarily in a foreign country to that country's government. Foreign sovereigns, their representatives, and military personnel are typically excepted from this requirement. - Also termed local allegiance.
natural allegiance. The allegiance that native-born citizens or subjects owe to their nation.
permanent allegiance. The lasting allegiance owed to a state by its citizens or subjects.
temporary allegiance. The impermanent allegiance owed to a state by a resident alien during the period of residence.
It is clear that in Australia that subjects have permanent allegiance to the Sovereign, the Queen, and only to the Queen; temporary allegiance is owed by resident aliens.
The following text is taken from Halsbury's Laws of England (5). The section of concern is under CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE; Part X. Offences against the Government.
877. The essence of the offence of treason lies in the violation of the allegiance which is owed to the King. This allegiance is owed not only by subjects of the King, but also by an alien living in this country and receiving the protection of its laws, so long as he is resident here, even if the State to which he belongs is at war with the King (a). If an alien has lived in this country under the protection of the law, and the State of which he is a subject invades the King's territory and the alien assists the invader, the alien is guilty of treason (b).
Ambassadors and persons attached to embassies are, it seems, only amenable to the laws of this country for treason if they are subjects of this country (c).
The punishment for treason is death by hanging, but the King may substitute beheading for hanging (d).
(a) Fost. 185; 1 East, P. C. 52; Kel. 38; R. v. De la Motte (1781), 21 State Tr. 687, at p. 814. As to allegiance, see title CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, Vol. VI., pp. 341 et seq.
(b) De Jager v. A.-G. of Natal,  A. C. 326, P. C.
(c) Fost. 187; 1 Hale, P. C. 95; 1 Hawk. P. C. 86; 1 Bl. Com. 253. See Story's Case (1571), 3 Dyer, 300, b; 1 State Tr. 1087; R. v. Owen (1616), 1 Roll. Rep. 185; Treatise upon the Law of High Treason by a Barrister-at-Law (ed. 1793), 8. Owing to the fiction of exterritoriality an ambassador who is not a subject of the State to which he is accredited does not owe even temporary allegiance to that State.
(d) Treason Act, 1790 (30 Geo. 2, c. 48), s. 1; Treason Act, 1814 (54 Geo. 3, c. 146), ss. 1, 2; Forfeiture Act, 1870 (33 & 34 Vict. c. 23), s. 1; and see title CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, Vol. VI., p. 352. As to the disqualifications which follow upon a conviction for treason or felony, see p. 428, ante. Treason is not triable at quarter sessions (Quarter Sessions Act, 1842 (5 & 6 Vict. c. 38), s. 1). As to misprision of treason, see p. 503, post.
Misprision of treason.
1001. Misprision of treason is a common law misdemeanour, and consists in the bare knowledge and concealment of high treason without any degree of assent thereto (u).
A mere general knowledge that a rebellion is intended without any knowledge of the persons engaged or of particulars of the design is not sufficient to constitute the offence (x).
A person knowing that treason is plotted or committed is bound to reveal it as soon as he can to a judge of assize or a justice of the peace (y).
Two witnesses are necessary for a conviction, as in treason (a).
The punishment for misprision of treason is imprisonment for life, with forfeiture of goods and of the profits of lands for life (b).
(u) Stat. (1554) 1 & 2 Ph. & Mar. c. 5, s. 8; 1 Hawk. P. C., c. 5, s. 2; 1 Hale, P. C. 371. And see title CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, Vol. VI., p. 353. As to infants, see note (q) on p. 240, ante.
(x) Kel. 21.
(y) 1 Hale, P. C. 372. It would probably now be sufficient, if the information were given to a responsible officer of police.
(a) 1 Hale, P. C. 300.
(b) 2 Hawk. P. C., c. 48, s. 15; 1 Hale, P. C. 374. The Forfeiture Act, 1870 (33 & 34 Vict. c. 23), s. 1, appears not to apply to this offence, which is neither treason nor felony. This offence is not triable at quarter sessions (Quarter Sessions Act, 1842 (5 & 6 Vict. c. 38), s. 1).
If one was not aware, the Constitution Act 1975 VIC reaffirms in Section 3 that the laws of England apply in the State of Victoria. (6)
All Members of the Legislative Assembly are required to make the following oath (or affirmation) on entering Parliament (7):
Oath: "I swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty and Her Majesty's heirs and successors according to law."
Affirmation: "I do solemnly and sincerely affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty and Her Majesty's heirs and successors according to law."
A matter of treason?
The author asks the reader, on the basis on information provided in this article, has Mr Lim committed an act of treason? Has Mr Lim betrayed his oath of office and allegiance to the Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth the Second?
The logic in point form for an affirmative response to the question:
- The Queen is the Sovereign and only Sovereign in the Commonwealth.
- All subjects and resident aliens have allegiance to the Sovereign; members of Parliament swear an oath/affirmation of allegiance to the Sovereign.
- Violation of this allegiance is an act of treason.
- By moving to pay homage to John Brumby, and to paying homage to John Lenders, Mr Lim has committed act(s) of treason.
What do you think?
- Hansard, Legislative Assembly of Victoria, 9 June 2010, p. 2275 (parliament.vic.gov.au)
- Notice Paper - No. 163 - Legislative Assembly of Victoria, p.50 #463 (legislation.vic.gov.au)
- Black's Law Dictionary, 9th edition, pp. 801, 1005
- Black's Law Dictionary, 9th edition, pp. 87, 1561
- Halsbury's Laws of England, 1st edition, Volume 9, pp. 450-451, 503
- Constitution Act 1975 VIC, Sec. 3 (austlii.edu.au)
- Constitution Act 1975 VIC, Second Schedule (austlii.edu.au)