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Inquiry Invites No Confidence Vote In Our Constitution     
Written by ACM    
Tuesday, 31 August 2004

Today’s report by the republican dominated Senate Inquiry into the process of becoming a republic should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. It recommends a series of plebiscites (opinion polls) which invite a vote of no confidence in one of the most successful constitutions in the world. Unlike a referendum, a plebiscite asks the questions first and the politicians fill in the details later. It is a blank cheque in favour of the politicians. It is an unnecessary stunt by politicians that does not change the constitution in any way.

Voting will be compulsory,but republicans are divided both over the number of plebiscites and their timing.

“The Senators are telling Australians to jettison our constitution, the best in the world, without having the foggiest idea of what would be put in its place. Nor have they been able to point to any problems in our constitution or give us any reason to attempt yet another costly and divisive change”, said Professor David Flint on the tabling of the report.

At a time when our nation is facing serious issues, the Senators want Australians to waste time on an issue rejected in every state and 72% of electorates less than five years ago. The 1999 Referendum cost taxpayers well over $150 million.

“This report deserves to be treated with cynicism and contempt” added Professor David Flint. “The republican Senators are saying money should be diverted from schools, hospitals, the disabled and the aged into an issue which does not even rate a mention amongst Australians.”

The Inquiry itself was a farce. The Committee was dominated by those whose arguments had been rejected in every state in 1999. Senator Scullion rightly says that it was unnecessary and inappropriate to revisit the issue. Despite widespread advertising it attracted very poor public attendances in the small number of places visited by the Senators. An almost equal number of submissions were pro and anti-republican. Yet almost exclusively those heard were from republicans, who proposed diametrically different processes and republican models.

ACM is particularly concerned by the suggestion that the usual Yes and No cases in this process and future referendums be replaced by a single document prepared by a parliamentary committee. “Australians are entitled to read the arguments of both sides before they take a decision. Sending them a single document is a sinister and undemocratic proposal. In addition, the Senators have not answered in any depth Sir David Smith’s submission which in great detail demonstrates beyond a shadow of doubt that we already have an Australian Head of State in our own Governor-General. This latest republican folly has been a futile waste of the taxpayer’s money”, concluded Professor Flint.



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