Article Index

The chief format of these notes has been to follow the ACM Handbook where the quotations on the selected topics provide ready ammunition for debaters to weave into their speeches. However it should not be thought that a positive case for our present system of constitutional monarchy cannot or ought not to be made.

It is equally true, however, that the common law or common sense principle that 'he who asserts must prove', is much better used to invite those who wish to assert that change will be beneficial to Australia, to establish their arguments first. This has cast the monarchists or constitutionalist as negators or as the Australian newspaper has put it 'refusenics'!

My experience for what it is worth is that far more light is generated if the republicans advance their case first and the monarchists rebut it or answer it. I believe this to be because the subject is so vast that unless one takes specific points it becomes unwieldly. Mere explanation of the intricate balance of our present system of checks and balances can take a night, how they will be altered by seemingly innocuous suggestions can be equally tedious, although essential.

Others may well disagree. You may like to try it the other way around. But for what it is worth that has been my experience over the past six years.
The sort of debate that might ensue if the monarchists are asked to press the advantages of their system and for the republicans to counter with their arguments is logically the reverse of the earlier notes. However some examples of the types of matter suitable are set out below. They are of course far from exhaustive.

A DEBATE ON THE ADVANTAGES OF CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY

SAMPLE ARGUMENT 1 — CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY SEPARATES THE POWER FROM THE GLORY

MONARCHIST ARGUMENT

The system of constitutional monarchy separates the power from the Glory! Under our system the monarch (or her representative) reigns but does not rule; i.e., the monarch (or her representative) only acts on advice and the advisers are held responsible through the parliament to the people: in reality the advisers have the power but the monarch (or her representative) has the ceremonial glory, acting as a figurehead and symbol of the State rather than the government of the day.

REPUBLICAN COUNTER-ARGUMENT

Presidents can be either ceremonial (as in Ireland) or executive (as in USA) or somewhere in between (France). A ceremonial president can be as effective as a ceremonial monarch or governor-general.

MONARCHIST COUNTER COUNTER-ARGUMENT

But a monarch has no mandate and is not expected to enter into political debate. A president is inevitably either a politician when elected or becomes one on election: having a mandate they do speak out and our system of government will need to be changed to accommodate this.

SAMPLE ARGUMENT 2 — A MONARCH OR GOVERNOR-GENERAL STANDS ABOVE POLITICS

MONARCHIST ARGUMENT

A monarch or governor-general stands above the party political contest and embodies the continuing state rather than the day to day governments of particular political parties. By inheriting the throne, there can be no dissent about who is to be monarch, and vice-regal representatives are appointed by the monarch on advice of a prime minister, who can choose someone without continuing political loyalties, and thus avoid any expensive or divisive elections.

Presidents are elected either by the people, (Ireland and France), or an electoral college elected by the people, (USA), or other politicians (Germany). In all cases they represent the outcome of political struggles and alienate as many people as support them, many not even having a majority of the electors bothering to vote.

REPUBLICAN COUNTER ARGUMENT

A presidential system can involve the people more in selecting the identity and character of the candidate. The people themselves must take responsibility for their choice directly and not feel they have no say in who is to reign over them.

MONARCHIST COUNTER COUNTER ARGUMENT

But hereditary has the great advantage that there can never be a contest for the throne. It is in the hands of fate who lives how long and who has which children and in what order! It removes a very divisive issue from the body politic and saves a huge amount in election expenses!

SAMPLE ARGUMENT 3 — THE SANCTIONS ON HEADS OF STATE IN CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHIES ARE MORE EFFECTIVE THAN IN REPUBLICS

MONARCHIST ARGUMENT

All heads of state, monarchs, presidents, or vice-regal representatives, must have sanctions upon their conduct. The sanction on a hereditary monarch, and according to Queen Elizabeth, the only justification for an hereditary monarchy in a modern responsible democracy, is for he monarchy to accurately reflect the will of the people. If a monarch does not, the monarch faces the sanctions of overt hostility, or being deposed or forced to abdicate (Edward VIII). Vice-regal representatives are only appointed according to their respective constitutions. In Australia, the appointee is to hold office 'at the Queen's pleasure', so can be removed immediately on the advice of the Prime Minister of the day. This is the safest mechanism for ensuring a head of state sticks to his office and does not stray outside it.

Controlling presidents is much harder, as the French, the Indians and the Pakistanis have found. Presidents can be very hard to remove. If popularly elected then the way of impeachment is cumbersome and very divisive (e.g. President Nixon in USA). If there is to be removal by parliament, its sitting cannot depend on the whim of a president who may defeat the move to remove him or her. If, say, a two-thirds majority is required, minor parties may ally themselves with the president's actions and defeat the government.

REPUBLICAN COUNTER ARGUMENT

Any decent republican constitution will provide for the removal of a president in certain circumstances. What they are depend on the wishes of the people. It is traumatic but not as traumatic as an abdication crisis.

MONARCHIST COUNTER COUNTER ARGUMENT

But the removal of a Governor-General by the advice of the Prime Minister and the action of the Queen is so much neater and involves no turmoil at all. The Prime Minister must answer to the people and they can decide. Once removed the former Governor-General can speak up for himself if the removal had unfair overtones. But far more effective in keeping a governor-general in his place is the possibility of such removal at the will of the Prime Minister and the action of the Queen. The immense respect in which the Queen is held allows this process to operate. All suggested attempts to replace it are cumbersome, and many potentially ineffectual, meaning that once appointed a president will never need to have a realistic fear of removal at all.

Proudly Supported by Australians for Constitutional Monarchy
Web Development by J.K Managed Solutions