Laws are not necessarily fair or just. The moral stand of the lawmaker is not always the same as the moral stand of society (or at least of the great majority of people).
Individuals may feel that some laws are very unjust and that it would go against their moral principles if they were to obey them. Such a situation causes many people to break laws, and so to commit crimes against the state. In extreme cases, such dilemmas can cause people to commit very serious crimes, including treason and sedition.
Under the Commonwealth Criminal Code treason has two aspects. Section 80.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) makes it an offence to cause the death of, or harm to, the Sovereign, the heir apparent, the Governor-General or the Prime Minister. It also encompasses levying war against the Commonwealth of Australia and assisting an enemy at war with Australia.
Case Law Roach v Electoral Commissioner  HCA 43
• Please try to search for the case above Using Austlii (www.austlii.edu.au) After trying, if you still could not find it follow the link below. http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/cases/cth/HCA/2007/43.html?query=treason
• Please summarise the case and highlight the treason aspects in this case.
• Give an opinion based on your study.
• Sedition is the act of encouraging hatred or contempt of the monarch, government or constitution. Throughout history the crime of treason has attracted the harshest penalties. It involves a breach of allegiance to a person’s country in that it causes harm to the monarch (or head of state); or it might involve working with the enemies of the country to bring down the monarch or government.
• See a Review of Sedition Laws on: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/alrc/publications/dp/71/
R v. Sharkey (1949) 79 CLR 121
In 1949, while he was General Secretary of the Communist Party of Australia, Sharkey stated in a newspaper interview that the workers of Australia would welcome invasion by the Soviet Union. He was also quoted as saying that Australian workers should use force to ensure that fascists could not stop the communists from gaining power. It was claimed that Sharkey was attempting to incite the overthrow of the government; he was charged and found guilty of sedition. Sharkey appealed the decision to the High Court, claiming that he was only speaking hypothetically. The court ruled that the Crimes Act 1900 had been breached as Sharkey’s comments were seditious.
- Explain what must be demonstrated if a charge of larceny is to be proven.
- Distinguish between ‘breaking and entering’ and ‘robbery’.
- Briefly outline the main types of white-collar crime.
- What is sedition? How does it differ from treason?
- Are there any other areas covered under Offences against the State? If yes what are they and how do the differ from Treason and sedition?