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Who is the Head of State?

Our Constitution does not contain the expression 'Head of State'. What it says, in Section 61, is 'the executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen and is exercisable by the Governor-General as the Queen's representative, and extends to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution and the laws of the Commonwealth'.


Australia shall have a Head of State who is an Australian citizen, who is appointed by Australians and who represents the independent and sovereign nation of Australia.


The fact is we already have an Australian as our constitutional Head of State. It is the Governor-General, not the Queen, who exercises the powers of the Head of State. Our Australian Governor-General functions with all the powers of a Head of State and is recognised as such by other countries.


'Under our present constitution, we have two Heads of State, the Queen is our symbolic Head of State and the Governor-General is our constitutional Head of State. ... ... The monarchy and the Crown have given us such an impeccable method of appointing the Australian who is to serve as our constitutional Head of State, that even those who have come directly from politics have served the Office with distinction'.
Sir David Smith (Official Secretary to Governors-General 1973-1990) Speech: "Australia's Head of State" Sydney Legacy 29 August 1996

'Our system gives us two sovereigns. One is monarch and/or her representative, a figure whose authority is deeply embedded in the past, who has no special interest to serve and whose dignity cannot be subverted. The other is the people, a body all-powerful at election time. The first is not just an ornament. The symbolic and spiritual power of the Queen strengthens the hand of the Governor-General in dealing with the politicians. The Crown has thus played a part in making Australian governments accountable. It has nourished a culture in which watching and questioning is taken for granted.'
Allan Atkinson (Author) Quoted from "The Muddle-Headed Republic"

'On the basis that he looks like a Head of State, and sounds like a Head of State, the Governor-General is Australia's Head of State. Bill Hayden called himself Head of State when he was Governor-General. In 1975 when the Speaker of the House of Representatives sought the Queen's intervention after the dismissal of the Prime Minister, the Queen's Private Secretary observed that 'The Queen has no part in the decisions which the Governor-General must take in accordance with the constitution,   and  it would not be proper for [her] to intervene in matters which are so clearly placed within the jurisdiction of the Governor-General by the Constitution. Even the Republican Advisory Committee concluded that the Queen's sole remaining power under the Australian Constitution was to appoint a Governor-General — and that this could only be exercised on the advice of the Australian Prime Minister. It's time for the real Head of State to be acknowledged, stand up and take a bow'.
The Hon A.J. Abbott (former ACM Executive Director) 'Consoling the Republicans' "The Adelaide Review" July 1996

'This theory of our 95-year old constitutional arrangements [i.e. we have both a symbolic and a constitutional Head of State] is not some bizarre theory dreamed up for the current debate. It is well supported and was voiced at the time of Federation.
It is supported by an 1873 speech by Canadian governor-general, Lord Dufterin; by the writings of two Australian legal scholars, A. Inglis Clark's "Studies in Australian Constitutional Law", 1901, and W. Harrison Moore's "The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia", 1902; by the decisions of the British and Dominion prime ministers at the 1926 and 1930 Imperial Conferences; by advice given to prime minister Robert Menzies by the Commonwealth government's legal advisers in 1953; by legal.

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