Article Index

Australian usage

The statement Australia is already a republic may come as a surprise to many. But this would have been the assessment of those great political philosophers, Rousseau and Montesquieu who praised the English constitution as an ideal model for republican government.

As Sir Henry Parkes, to many the Father of Federation, wrote:

"Every constitution is in reality a republic. There is just as much a republic in England as there is in the United States, the only difference being, that in the one case the word is not used, and in the other it is."

Cardinal Moran, the leader of Australia's Catholics during the final phase of the nineteenth-century movement for Federation, described our constitutional system as the "most perfect form of republican government".



 Cardinal Moran


The Republic Advisory Committee, established by Prime Minister Paul Keating in 1993, chaired by Malcolm Turnbull and consisting only of republicans, conceded that  it may be appropriate to regard Australia as a crowned republic. ( An Australian Republic,Vol 1, 1993 at page 3)

The term "crowned republic" has been used by leading supporters of the Australian Crown in our constitutional system, including the former Prime Minister, John Howard, the former Minister, Tony Abbott, the former High Court judge, Justice Michael Kirby, and the former NSW Court of Appeal judge, Justice Ken Handley. 

Politicians’ republics can be classified in various ways. In Australia the republican movement proposed a republic where the politicians’ chose and closely controlled the president. This was rejected in 1999.Although they will not today reveal what sort of politicians’ republic they want, the two most talked about is, first, some variation of that rejected in 1999. The other is one where the president, and presumably the vice president, the six governors, the six lieutenant governors and the administrator of a territory are all politicians.


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