Debating Notes Page 1


So Australians set up a balance of power. The Governor-General (and only the Governor-General, not the Queen) can sack the Prime Minister if he or she acts unconstitutionally. On the other hand, the Prime Minister can advise the Queen to sack the Governor-General if he or she misbehaves. The former situation happened in 1975, while the latter situation has not yet arisen.

The Governor-General is sworn to uphold the Constitution and acts in one sense as an impartial 'umpire' in the case of an irreconcilable dispute between the House of Representatives and the Senate, elected as they are on different electoral bases but with equal powers (except over money bills). A republic will seriously impair the present system of checks and balances if that referee becomes a party political politician either before, at the time of, or after the election. Some other machinery must be devised to replace the impartial umpire we now have.

In 2001 we will celebrate a century of the success of this written Constitution, which created our nation of Australia in 1901. It is the heart of Australia. Its operation is our national heartbeat. Under this Australian-designed Constitution, we have become the sixth oldest working democracy in the world—stable, free, independent and sovereign both in law and in fact. We have fought two World Wars and done this without military coups, uprisings, riots, insurrections, civil wars or even prolonged political crises.

Elizabeth II is Queen of 16 nations, including the Pacific-Rim nations of Canada, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, as well as Australia. Instead of having sixteen separate monarchies, one person, the Queen, is able to be the monarch of each, and 16 local monarchies are not necessary. Except for the United Kingdom, where the Queen is both the symbolic and active Head of State, each of the other nations has a different local Governor-General as an active constitutional Head of State.

Queen Elizabeth II is also Head of the Commonwealth of 1.6 billion people, a free association of 53 countries from every continent in the world. She is our symbolic, personal tie with a sixth of the world's multi-racial population. The system of government by constitutional monarchy has behind it centuries of successful history and works well for us both federally and in every State. It also works well in Europe (e.g. Spain, Sweden, Norway and UK) and in Asia (e.g., Japan, Malaysia and Thailand), as well as the previously mentioned Pacific-Rim countries (indeed Fiji has also expressed a wish to revert to constitutional monarchy). There is no compelling reason for Australia to abandon it.

What do the Republicans want to do with this success story? They say they want a republic, but of course, Australia will need seven republics, one nationally and one in every State. Seven presidents. Seven presidential palaces? Seven presidential jets? Seven new Constitutions? Of 116 republics in the world, only two are older continuous democracies than Australia—USA and Switzerland. Which of the 116 models do they really want for us?
In a democratic republic, the Constitution must provide how a president is to be selected, given powers and then controlled or dismissed. Do Republicans want a president elected by the people (estimated to cost $50 million each election plus the costs of elections of the presidents in each State), or for the politicians to instal one of their own through parliamentary elections engineered by themselves? Either way no one in the smaller States will have a hope of having an effective say at the national level. And only politicians or millionaires will ever be able to stand for popular election. Some improvement!

What powers will republicans give a new president? The Governor-General has the power to appoint and dismiss all Ministers, to call and dismiss parliament and command the armed forces. Who wants to politicise these powers by giving them to a political president? When the Governor-General loses them, will the president get them or will the Prime Minister grab them?

If a president is to replace our present independent constitutional umpire, the Governor-General, he or she will be or become a politician and will pull on the jersey of one side or other, thus becoming a major political player. This has already happened in republics such as France, USA, Pakistan and India. Political tension and instability will be the new order of the day.

Whatever powers the President gets, to remove him or her will need provisions for removal or impeachment, and the US experience of President Nixon's impeachment was woeful. Not just our present system of a quick telephone call to the Palace but a drawn out legal and parliamentary battle!
A republic may necessitate changing our flag and our National Anthem, and many republicans say they want it to change us and how we see ourselves! We have already seen one republican Premier seize Government House and use it for his own Ministry, that of the Arts. Alleged savings of $2 million a year have resulted in fact in greater expenses of $600 000 a year! Already a site is set aside in Canberra for the new presidential palace.
A republic will jeopardise what we now enjoy, our political stability, our national unity, our flag, our anthem, our theory of government and our sense of ourselves. This republicans claim is its purpose.

A republic will do nothing to improve unemployment, trade, the economy, poverty levels or our national debt. It will only divide the nation, which is to nobody's advantage. Our present system works well, and keeps the politicians in their place. It is safer to stick with what we have, celebrate it as one undivided nation in 2001, and count our blessings. Not only is it risky to change, but the present system has considerable virtues. What then are the advantages of our present system?

Firstly it divides the power from the glory: either one can have the prestige of the Governor-General and act on advice, or one can be Prime Minister and give the advice, but unlike USA one cannot have both the power and the glory, be Head of State and Head of Government at the one time.
Our system of constitutional monarchy ensures there is normally only one centre of power, the Crown and its current ministers, with an ultimate balance of power between them, whereas any republican system has to balance president against Congress or Parliament, or, as in Ireland, place all the power with the parliament.

Our Australian adaptation of the Westminster system, where the Crown is served by Ministers without whose advice the Crown does not act is extremely flexible and responsive to the perceived will of the people. Our constitution does not mention the Prime Minister but we all know that he or she is politically all-powerful. But a Prime Minister is only as safe as the last vote of his or her colleagues. If they decide that they will be better off without him or her, then, without any further election, a change can be made immediately. No one votes for a Prime Minister directly except his or her colleagues. Unlike USA, where a president unless he dies, resigns or is impeached exercises power for four year terms, Prime Ministers can be shuffled on and off in a matter of days, depending on the perceived will of the people.

Again it is unnecessary in a constitutional monarchy to codify the powers of the Head of State, as they are normally only exercised on advice, and if not the representative can be removed instantly: in a republic it would be unsafe to leave such presidential powers uncodified and risk power struggles between a virtually un-removable president and a prime minister.

Codification (or the complete writing down) of each and every power to be given to a president has difficult consequences. Even assuming you can correctly write the powers down (and there is a good deal of controversy about what they actually are now, and even more about when and how they can be exercised), what is their status and effect to be? If they are laws (as part of the Constitution), then they must be open to challenge, interpretation and enforcement by the High Court. Such action by the High Court will inevitably lead it into exercising power in the heart of the Executive Government, from which it is presently excluded by the doctrine of the separation of powers envisaged in the Constitution. This occurs, for instance, in republics such as Pakistan.

If, however, as some eminent legal commentators propose (e.g. Professors A. Blackshield and G. Winterton), the powers are merely codified and then expressed to be 'non-justiciable', i.e. not subject to the jurisdiction of the High Court (or any other court), what is the possible utility of doing it? If it is merely the pious hope that a future president I will be shamed into observing them, the absence of any sanction if he or she does not do so will certainly not constrain a president without shame. By giving a false sense of constitutional or even political security that they will (or ought to) be followed, unjusticiable codification could be extremely dangerous by giving the illusion of security where none in fact exists.

Thus the system of constitutional monarchy has many benefits that are difficult to replicate in a republic. There is also a sense in which all are equal under the Crown which can be lost in a republic which elevates and semi-deifies a president. While in both systems there appears to be a strong dislike and distrust of politicians, such odium does not usually attach to a monarch, who remains above politics, or a vice-regal representative who is similarly above the political fray.

There is also often little thought given to the advantages that being a constitutional monarchy has given us in a sense of ourselves. For instance every valid executive act since 1788 has been done in the name of the Crown, initially acting on the advice of the British ministers and now acting only on the advice of Australian ministers. Just as Canada relishes its difference from USA by stressing its links with the Crown of Canada and avoiding the political excesses of presidential rule in USA, so too, not having a president lets us stand out in the galaxy of nations.

Our links with the Crown make us inheritors of a system of government that has evolved over a thousand years, the second oldest institution in Europe after the Papacy. It has prevented civil war in England since the mid-seventeenth century, a very enviable record even when compared with the great republic of the USA. It has prevented dictatorship in Britain and its former colonies since Lord Protector Cromwell and his son in 1660, and has given us a true love of freedom where all are equal before the law.

Why should we now risk reversing the successful outcome of a thousand years' constitutional struggle to pander to the vanity and ambition of those who say 'why can't I be president instead of only governor-general?'. The Turnbull report noted that the mere creation of a president would give the office-holder 'a more prominent role in Australian life simply because he or she would not be just a representative of the Queen, but Australia's head of state in his or her own right'.

Of course the Governor-General is much more than 'just the representative of the Queen'. The Keating Government's Republican Advisory Committee (from which all constitutional monarchists were deliberately excluded) at p 34 reported:
The Governor-General 's position is significantly different from that of the Queen. While her powers and duties under the Constitution are few, the Governor-General is the central figure in the text of the Constitution.

Later the report very usefully sets out many of the powers given to the Governor-General. These include the powers to:
Sec. 5: Sec. 32:
Sec. 57: Sec. 58:
Sec. 61: Sec. 64: Sec. 48:
dissolve, prorogue and summon Parliament. issue writs for a general election for the House of Representatives, dissolve both Houses of Parliament simultaneously grant or withhold assent to bills passed by the Parliament and, if he or she wishes, return a bill to Parliament with proposed amendments,
exercise the executive power of the Commonwealth, appoint Ministers of State, act as 'Commander-in-Chief' of the armed forces.

Of the powers conferred on the Governor-General by the Constitution, only four are thought to be exercisable solely at the Governor-General's own discretion, in other words, without or contrary to the advice of Ministers :
the power to appoint the Prime Minister;
the power to dismiss the Prime Minister (and therefore the Government);
the power to refuse to dissolve the House of Representatives under Sec. 5 or both Houses of Parliament under Sec. 57 of the Constitution; and
the power to force a dissolution of the House of Representatives.

But the way he or she acts is limited by a lack of mandate, the duty to use the Queen's powers only as Her Majesty would and the fact that he or she can be removed immediately allsanctions that could not apply in a republic. So there is no doubt that its proponents claim that the intention and effect of a change to a republic will be to enhance and enlarge the role of Head of State. This must diminish the role of the Prime Minister, and establish two centres of power and prestige that may well be at loggerheads and inhibit smooth responsible government such as we have enjoyed for the last century.

The altenative, creating a merely 'ceremonial' president (as is seen in Ireland) will surely mean more power for the Prime Minister and even for the Senate, if there is no impartial constitutional umpire to act as Sir John Kerr did in 1975. Either way, politicians (president, prime minister or senators) will get more unrestrained power over us. So why do it? You have been warned!


A good debater should be able to speak for or against a proposition at any time, and as experience grows, with less and less preparation. Debating is the art of persuasion. If it is adjudicated, it is traditionally marked on Manner, Matter and Method. Manner is individual. One can always improve.
These notes are mainly about Matter but with a little Method thrown in. They should enable anyone involved in the debate on this issue to argue for or against any of the major propositions in the constitutional debate now exercising Australians.

For every proposition, there is an answer, a counter-proposition, a telling quotation or a method of invalidation of the proposition. Sometimes debaters do this by avoiding the issue by changing the ground rules of the debate, by a closer analysis of the terms used, the assumptions made or even the emotions employed.

The result in a debate is usually decided by an independent adjudicator or an unprejudiced audience, especially if the topic is non¬controversial, e.g. 'Venus needed more Milo', 'Gender difference is an illusion', 'Might is right', 'A rose by any other name would smell as sweet', and so on. But with the debate on possible changes to the Australian Constitution, debaters will run into hidden (and sometimes not so hidden) prejudices that no amount of logical argument will alter, influence or overcome. At one Melbourne Writers' Festival debate, I had a heckler for my ten minute speech repeat again and again, 'The Irish hate the Queen!' There was no way around his solution to the debate, even had I claimed (correctly) Irish family connection with the ancient Irish King Dermot McMurragh. Whatever I said would have made (and did make) no impression. His mind was made up.

Whether he was a citizen, visitor, migrant, Irish national or just sozzled, I never found out. As the then President of Ireland, Mary Robinson had recently enjoyed afternoon tea with the Queen, I guess he was wrong in that instance at least! Much of the prejudice you may encounter is anti-Royal or anti-British, but there is also a lot which is anti-Irish, anti-multicultural or racist. Much depends on perspectives of the debate and prejudices, which are deeply ingrained and sometimes the opposite of that of other participants.

So, I say to all those entering the debate—be truly sensitive to the feelings of others! Argue the issues, not the personalities. Avoid abuse. Avoid silly claims of 'patriotism ', ' racism' or 'xenophobia'. Nearly everybody I have encountered in the debate has wanted the best outcome for Australia. They just disagree on what that is to be.

Finally, the issues are complex. Make sure that whatever argument your opposition uses, you confront it fairly while still advancing your own. Remember that to win a debate, you must attack as well as defend. And make no mistake. Whilst ' Removing the Queen' may seem a simple emotional objective, its results will be very wide-reaching.

The powers of the Head of State go to the very root of government. If they are to be politicised by giving them either to a political president or to the Prime Minister rather than leaving them in the hands of our impartial Governor-General, then the debate about changing the Constitution is about power and substance as well as about emotion!

Lloyd Waddy, RFD QC
National Convenor
Australians for Constitutional Monarchy
Sydney NSW February, 1998


The following definitions are the critical terms used in any debate on whether Australia should remain a constitutional monarchy or become a republic; two very different and alternative systems of government.


This is the most confusing word in the whole debate (except monarchy!). It is used by many people in many different ways, and thus must be defined if minds are to meet. 'Republic' is derived from the Latin words 'res' (things or matters) and 'publica' (common or public). Thus the word's derivation indicates 'things held in common' i.e. public things or matters—as distinct from personal things—one's house, car, family, etc. Historically, 'republic' has been used for constitutional matters, i.e. the public way in which a community is governed.

You will readily see that it does not necessarily imply any particular system of government. There are 116 nations in the world today which claim to be 'republics' —which one is referred to? Say USA, or Ireland or Switzerland or India, and they differ so what is meant by 'republic'? Republics are very old. The most famous is Plato's, expounded over two thousand years ago.

Republics can have monarchs or not. Republics are sometimes defined as representing the sovereignty of the people; that is that all power is seen to derive from 'the people'. But then who are 'the people'? In the most famous modern republic, USA, the foundation documents of the 1770s sound wonderful until you realise (or learn) that they did not include the African Americans and other slaves, who were not liberated until the United States Civil War of 1865. This was long after slavery had been disallowed in England and Wilberforce had stamped out the slave trade as a citizen of a monarchy! To make matters even less clear, as early as the 1860s, a leading journalist (Bagehot) had described the monarchy of the United Kingdom as a 'disguised republic'—a description close enough to the one Australian constitutional monarchists use today—a 'crowned republic'!

If you want to simplify this area, you can avoid the use of 'republic' and just say 'Australia should get rid of the Queen and the monarchy and have a president'. It is in this sense that many (but not all) modern day Australian republicans really mean to use the term. Each republic in the world is different. Some republics are absolute dictatorships. There are not many people proposing a 'dictatorship' republic for Australia. However, history has shown that some republics, such as the (German) Weimar Republic (acclaimed as the most democratic of its time) were not intended to be dictatorships, but unfortunately ended up going this way.

Distinguishing republics

The Turnbull Committee (officially the Keating Government's Republican Advisory Committee) produced a report which summarised many of the types of democratic republics, and their characteristics. One characteristic of a republic is how the president is elected. This may be:
by nomination by some individual or institution;
by selection by an 'electoral' college or a group of people delegated to make a choice on behalf of the nation;
by election by the members of one or more parliaments with or without special majorities;
or by popular election, usually one voter one vote.

However, another characteristic to describe republics is by the powers given to a president. Does the president govern or not (in whole or in part)? If he does, it is called an executive presidency. If not, it is called a ceremonial presidency. A well known example of an executive president is the President of USA, who governs by appointing his own Ministers or Secretaries of State. Congress (the Houses of Parliament—the Senate and the Representatives) merely passes laws and budgets and sometimes overrides the President's vetoes.

A well known ceremonial president is that of Ireland, formerly Mary Robinson. She had no personal authority to govern, but did have a great deal of personal influence as President (she had previously been the leader of the third party in Irish politics, as, say, Cheryl Kernot once led the Democrats in Australia). But if the Presidential Office is to be a purely ceremonial post, this means the powers of the Prime Minister and Cabinet will be increased. Such cenermonial presidencies greatly increase the power of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Some commentators have gone so far as to describe constitutional monarchies, such as Australia, UK or Canada (where all sovereignty is in the people but they choose to retain a constitutional monarch to remain above politics) as 'crowned republics' and compare them with republican models without monarchs.


This term derives from the Greek 'monos' or'alone' and 'archein' or 'to rule'. Thus it technically means rule by one person. In this primary sense, it can be used as a description of anyone who rules on their own--dictator, president, king or noble baron! 'Monarchy' is not necessarily 'hereditary', i.e. passed directly from parent to heir or child. In ancient England the monarch was elected from amongst the King's children. Just as there are types of 'republic', so have we types of monarchy. They are usually grouped as 'absolute' or 'constitutional'. So just like republican presidents, monarchs come in many shapes and sizes!

Absolute monarchy

'Absolute' monarchies were those where the monarch had absolute power. There was no constitutional restriction on what an absolute monarch could do so long as he kept his 'throne' (a shorthand way of saying his power to govern). Many European monarchies were of this type, but it has never been the case in England or UK. Several examples of absolute monarchs were Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and the ancient Kings of France.

Constitutional monarchy

'Constitutional' monarchies are those where the powers of the king or queen are subject to a constitution, a series of conventions, and to parliament or something which 'constitutes' or makes up the state. The constitutions vary greatly in their details and leave the monarchs with more or less powers as allowed by those who consent to be governed by them. For example, the Emperor of Japan has only ceremonial functions. He just leads his nation by existing and living. The King of Thailand has powers to summon his ministers who by custom, as a sign of respect, approach him on their knees. Elizabeth II as Queen of the United Kingdom exercises her day to day powers in the United Kingdom only on the advice of her ministers (except for her very limited reserve powers). Nevertheless unless she does assent to Bills from Parliament they would not be legal or binding.

In contrast, as Queen of Australia, while very wide powers are vested in her (that is 'owned' or protected by her), according to the Constitution she cannot exercise (or 'use') any of them. They can only be exercised by her representative, the Governor-General, who also has a lot of additional constitutional powers given to him directly by the Constitution.


A constitution can be described as the arrangements under which a people or nation (or club!) agree to be governed. Like republican presidents, absolute monarchs, and constitutional monarchs, constitutions also come in many shapes and sizes. Yes, you've guessed it, they vary! Sometimes the arrangements are written down in a special document, sometimes in more than one document and sometimes the arrangements are so old no one would ever think of codifying them.

Illustrations of countries where Constitutions were written down in one document are the new republics like our near neighbour, Vanuatu. There are many, many more. Illustrations of countries with a Constitution and other documents would include USA, where there is both a federal Constitution and a Bill of Rights—as well as Constitutions in each of its individual states.

An illustration of a country that does not have a written Constitution at all is the United Kingdom. While there are certainly some famous documents that no one there would ever disobey, such as the Magna Carta of 1215 and the Acts of Settlement, a great deal is left to convention or traditional practices which have evolved and keep evolving. Thus monarchs who had a great deal of power when they had to govern (such as Henry VIII and Elizabeth 1) have been replaced with monarchs who do not govern at all (such as Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth 11). Those who do govern in the name of the Crown, the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the other ministers, exercise authority they have won over centuries from the Crown.

The Australian Constitution

If you want to deal with Australia's Constitution, it has two meanings:
1. The Constitution, which came into effect in 1901 as expressed in the document of 128 Sections, and which most people mean by 'our Constitution'. (We shall call it the 'Constitution of 1901'); and
2. The Constitution of 1901 plus all the conventions and practices which go with it which follow from its form as a constitutional monarchy, and bring many (but certainly not all) of the practices of the monarchy in the United Kingdom, together with all the practices of a modern representative democracy with responsible government.

For instance, there is no doubt that the head of government in Australia is the Prime Minister, the most powerful person in the land. But nowhere in the written Constitution of 1901 is there any reference to the Prime Minister or for that matter the Cabinet, although Professor Donald Horne, among other republicans, seems to think this is a bad thing. Some republicans and some constitutional monarchists take different views of what 'the Australian Constitution' is. Sometimes they use Meaning 1 and sometimes Meaning 2. Sometimes they slip from one meaning to the other without saying so (or knowing it). Some republicans and constitutional monarchists share the worry that if Australia becomes a republic, many conventions will lose their force or be swept aside. Others (on both sides) say everything important should and can be written down. Still others (on both sides) say they cannot be safely and fully written down at all. Writing everything down is called 'codification'.

It is aggravating, but such is the complexity of the subject that even terms which seem to mean one thing often mean another! But remember, most of our freedoms derive not from the written Constitution of 1901 but are the results of freedoms won in constitutional battles in England long before Australia was settled. These include freedom from confiscation of goods, arbitrary arrest, the right to prompt justice, freedon from confiscation of property, freedom of association, freedom of religion, the right to vote for a parliament which alone can levy taxes, trial by jury, and so on. Conventions These usually mean the unwritten and unenforceable habits or practices by which our system of government actually operates.

A basic convention is that the Queen and each of her representatives, the Governor-General and State Governors, only ever act on advice.  This has been so throughout our history. It has been safe to leave very wide powers with the Crown, and the written Constitution of 1901 in many places mentions 'advice' and in others does not. It is 'safe' because of another convention, that is that the Crown only takes advice from the Prime Minister or his nominated other ministers, who are responsible through the Parliament to the people who elect them at election time. This is 'safe' because of the convention that the Prime Minister is the person who enjoys the confidence of the majority of the members of the House of Representatives when Parliament is in being, and can obtain supply (the money to govern) from the Parliament, (the House of Representatives and the Senate, which under our written Constitution are of equal power, unlike in UK).

This rests on another convention, that if a Prime Minister cannot obtain supply (the money to govern), he must resign or advise an election.
It was a dispute over that and the next convention that caused the upheaval of 1975. The Prime Minister ignored or rejected that last convention. This brought into play the next convention (also hotly disputed) that if a Prime Minister could not get supply and would not advise an election, the Crown is entitled to choose another adviser who can and will. Thus, the Governor-General dismissed one Prime Minister and selected another who could get supply and who advised an election, and the choice of government was returned to the voters to decide at an election.

It is disputed whether this was an exercise of the Governor-General's powers under the written Constitution of 1901 or of the so-called unwritten 'reserve powers of the Crown' to act effectively as umpire and ensure that the Constitution (in both senses) was upheld. Controversy over the 1975 political crisis will bedevil the republican debate for years to come. Many constitutional monarchists (but not all) say the Constitution (in both senses) worked very well; the people got an early election and determined the matter. Many Republicans (but not all) say the power of the Senate to block money bills must be broken and the 'reserve powers' be codified (i.e. entirely written down) whether we remain a monarchy or become a republic. Many (on both sides) say they cannot be fully written down. And so it goes on!

Head of State

See Head of State Debate Resolved...

The Queen

To most people, this means Queen Elizabeth II. In Australia, the term 'the Queen' is often also referred to by the term 'the Crown'. This, too, is not as simple as it looks. Where the words 'the Queen' are used in the Constitution of 1901, they then meant 'Queen Victoria', but if the Constitution was to last forever, they meant those who followed her as legitimate monarch, 'her heirs and successors according to law', as the schedule to the Constitution puts it. In 1901, constitutional theory was that the Crown (meaning the Queen and, through her, the system of the monarchy) was indivisible, unable to be divided. It was described as 'The Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland'—a Crown which no longer existed after Ireland became a republic. It seemed simple. There was only one person as monarch. Therefore, there could only be one Queen.

However, slowly, as circumstances changed, it was seen that this was wrong. One person could quite successfully fulfil many separate roles as Queen. Thus it has developed (and republicans readily acknowledge) that there are legal personalities which are quite distinct--Queen of Canada Queen of New Zealand, Queen of Australia, Queen of UK, etc.

The thrones of all these monarchies are occupied by the same person (Elizabeth II) but now are seen to be, and are defined by, their separate roles, where Elizabeth II, as Queen of each, only takes constitutional advice from the people's ministers in that nation, much as company directors or club officials only act on one company's, or club's, affairs at any one time.

The Governor-General

The Commonwealth Government Directory, 1995-1996, issued on the appointment of His Excellency, the Hon. Sir William Deane, defines the role of Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief as:
The Head of State in whom the executive power of the Commonwealth is vested. The Governor-General is also one of the three elements comprising the Commonwealth Parliament. His powers include summoning, proroguing and dissolving Parliament; recommending appropriations; assenting to Bills; issuing writs for general elections; appointing and dismissing Ministers; submitting proposals for referendums; making Proclamations and Regulations; and creating government departments and making statutory appointments.

Republicans may be right when they say that some countries have refused to accept the Governor-General as a Head of State. On the other hand, many more countries have not refused to do so. Sir David Smith, former Official Secretary to five Governors-General, replying to a comment from a former Australian diplomat, states:

"In my experience, the difference has often been due to whether or not our diplomats have known and understood our Constitution and have been able and willing to explain it to their foreign opposite numbers... In our present system, the Governor-General has no fixed term and can be removed by the Queen instantly on the advice of the Prime Minister, who need give no reasons for his advice, but who himself has no fixed term and can himself be removed by his party colleagues at will or, in exceptional circumstances, by the Governor-General.

The Governor-General is our Constitutional Head of State, and in the exercise of his Constitutional duties, he does not act as a delegate or surrogate of the Sovereign. I cite the following evidence:
Lord Dufferin, Governor-General of Canada, 1873; A. Inglis Clark, Studies in Australian Constitutional Law, 1901; W Harrison Moore, The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1902; Lord Haldane during an appeal to the Privy Council by the State Governments, 1922; The Imperial Conference of British Empire Prime Ministers, 1930; Advice from the Commonwealth legal advisers to Prime Minister Menzies, 1953; Advice from the Commonwealth Solicitor-General to Prime Minister Whitlam, 1975; Letter from the Queen's Private Secretary to Speaker Scholes, 1975; Advice from Prime Minister Hawke to the Queen, 1984; Final report of the Hawke Government's Constitutional Commission, 1988; and Statement to Parliament by Prime Minister Keating, 1995.

The view that Australia should become a republic in order to ease the workload of Australian diplomats is as insulting to all Australians as it is to those members of his former profession who do understand our Constitution and who are prepared to stand up for it. I know of at least one country that made a wrong decision about our Constitutional arrangements, whose Government later admitted its mistake and said that it had been made on the basis of incorrect advice from its own officials and subsequently made amends."

The States

Under the Constitution of 1901, Australia is a federation where the States are independent and sovereign in their own areas of responsibility. They are not subservient to the Commonwealth. Each State is itself a constitutional monarchy, and the Queen is part of each Parliament and represented in each State by a local Governor. Each State Governor is appointed by the Queen on the nomination of the State Premier, which is conveyed directly to the Queen and does not go through any Federal or UK ministers. State Governors rank equally with the Governor-General but by courtesy, afford him precedence.

Checks and balances

In any system of government, there must be effective checks and balances. The most fundamental is between the politicians doing what they want and electors voting them out if they don't like what is done. Our checks and balances derive from two sources: the words of the Constitution of 1901 (which established a Federation of States as part of the Commonwealth, each being in its own sphere sovereign and independent in its operation as its own constitutional monarchy under State Governors representing the Queen) and the centuries of inherited practices or conventions (not laws) of the constitutional monarchy on which established basis the Constitution is overlaid.

When the Constitution of 1901 added to the UK system of responsible government (with a Prime Minister drawn from the House of Representatives, where each elector has a vote of approximately equal value), a US-style Senate (where voters vote for 12 Senators in each—very unequal—State), and then gave each House equal power (except in financial matters), there needed to be a neutral constitutional 'umpire' above politics (the Governor-General) to resolve disputes and force the voters to vote again.

The present Constitution (in both senses) provides a very flexible, effective and decisive mechanism to do this. It has been used only once federally (in 1975), and its rarity of use is seen as a sign of its success. However, great controversy exists as to:
(i) whether the powers exist;
(ii) whether they should exist;
(iii) whether the rules of how the powers are exercised should be written down; and
(iv) whether the power of the Senate to deny supply (or the money to govern) to a government should be diminished. Labor oppositions (unsuccessfully) threatened to use the power 169 times before the Coalition used it (successfully) in 1975, so it is a longstanding issue of controversy.

In any republican constitution, it will also be necessary to have checks and balances, and very small amendments to a written text can have very large (and perhaps unforeseen) consequences. In opposing popular election for a president, well-known Republican and former Prime Minister, the Hon. P.J. Keating, said, 'Why would one want to give the powers of a King of England to a virtually unremovable elected president?' Thus, it is apparent to republicans and constitutional monarchists alike that any constitution must have effective checks and balances. The current checks on the Governor-General for which Republicans giving his powers to a president must find acceptable replacements are:

When exercising the powers vested in the Queen by the Constitution of 1901 but which she is denied the exercise of, that being vested solely in the Governor-General, convention binds the Governor-General to exercise them in a non-party-political nature: they are not his personal powers he or she exercises (as they would become in the hands of a president) but the powers of a monarch above politics;
(ii) a Governor-General nominated by the Prime Minister and appointed by the Queen has no political mandate from the people of Australia;
(iii) a Governor-General has no fixed tenure, but being appointed at the Queen's pleasure' can be removed at any time on the advice of the Prime Minister. In contrast, a president elected for a five-year term would not only be virtually unremovable but if parliamentary elections are held every three years, must outlive the parliament which supports him or her (or during which the appointment is made). The president being a political figure, it is highly likely that he or she will often be out of sympathy with the elected parliament and the Prime Minister and Cabinet of the day, leading top considerable political friction and instability.

In Australia, the creation of States in the Constitution of 1901 also created a federal balance of powers, which has altered over the century but which of itself is a form of check and balance on the exercise of political power. Replacing a neutral umpire (the Governor-General) with an elected politician as president will greatly alter that balance of power in a way rejected in the Convention that preceded the Constitution of 1901.



 1. The Constitution is old and out of date.

1.1 It dates from 1901, before planes, television, computers, and the Internet.

1.2 It is a 'horse and buggy' document from a 'horse and buggy' age.

1.3 It has bits in it that are never used.

1.4 If you read it, it is misleading. It suggests inaccuracies, e.g. that the powers of the Governor-General read like those of a dictator:
i) to call and dissolve parliaments;ii) to appoint and dismiss ministers and
iii) to command the armed forces.

1.5 A literal reading tells you very little about how the country is actually governed.

1.6 It has bits left out that should be in it, e.g. there is no reference to the Prime Minister and Cabinet. A literal reading tells you very little about how the country is actually governed.


1. Australia's Constitution of 1901 is not out of date. It is as up-to-date as we, the people who alone can change it, want it to be. As for age, it is only half as old as that of the USA. Its age proves it works and works well.

1.1 It dates from 1901 indeed, a lot later than the US Constitution of 1787, and has proved able to legislate for planes and television (and is working on the Internet!).

1.2 Just as horses and buggies evolved into horseless carriages (motor cars), so the Constitution is a living document which has kept pace with changes in society.

1.3 It does have bits that are never used, but, by definition, they do no harm (so why go to the trouble of having costly referendums to try to get them removed?). But so has the US Constitution, including those that imply a slave-owning society.

1.4 Anything can be misleading if you read it out of context. The context of the written Constitution is the unwritten practices of democratic, responsible government under a Constitutional Monarchy whose conventions and practices, together with the written Constitution, have ensured our freedom from dictatorship since 1901. The Governor-General's powers are restricted by his or her lack of election, mandate, and party-backing. Also a Governor-General serves only at the Queen's pleasure, not for any fixed term, which means that he or she can be dismissed immediately on the advice of the Prime Minister if he seeks to use his powers improperly. Thus, whilst the powers are very wide, his or her position to use them is very restricted. A president would have both a mandate.

1.5 The written Constitution of 1901 exists against a background of Constitutional Monarchy derived from England which has no written constitution at all. Much of this background is called convention (that is practice not having the effect of law) and the Prime Minister and Cabinet are recognised by convention (based on their power of controlling the parliament). There is no need for the Constitution of 1901 to mention them at all.
Thus the written Constitution is only part of our national Constitution. It is wholly based on the age-long practises and conventions of constitutional monarchy, the great benefit of which is its flexibility and ability to adapt to changes. There are other written documents which are also important, the State Constitutions, the Statute of Westminster and the Australia Acts.

1.6 The absence of the Cabinet reflects the fact that it is of little or no legal relevance. It's decisions are given legal effect by the Ministers, or the Governor-General in Executive Council. Equally the party meetings and caucuses are important, but being political bodies are not in the Constitution. The titles of each minister change from time to time—it would be extremely inconvenient to write them into the Constitution.
If you try and write in the Prime Minister and Cabinet, you will never get the people to vote for it. Only the people can change the Constitution by voting 'yes' (by a majority overall and in a majority of States).


 2. Australia needs a Constitution which has not been drawn up by men only.

 2.1 Women did not have a vote for the Constitution and should have one for the republic. Because no women voted for the Constitution, it is not theirs. They never agreed to it. They may not even have wanted it! The Constitution represents the repressive attitudes prevalent in early Australia. We must adopt a new Constitution which is chosen freely by men and women alike.

 2.2 Aborigines were excluded from voting for the Constitution and they too should now be allowed to vote.

 2.3 Federation achieved little for those Australians who were female or indigenous.

 2.4 The repressive attitudes towards women and Aborigines, of which the Constitution was a product, can only be remedied by Australia becoming a republic.


 2. Never mind who drew it up, the real achievement was that it was drawn up well to benefit all. In the nineteenth century, there were no women in public office anywhere (except Queen Victoria!) so were we not to move to nationhood and Federation because of that? The draftsmen were no more archaic in their attitudes than those who drafted the US Constitution.

 2.1 Some Australian women were entitled to vote in 1900, and where they had the franchise or right to vote (such as in South Australia) presumably did so. But it is true that most women did not vote and were not entitled to vote anywhere in the world. In 1900, it was a male dominated world, to be true. New Zealand and Australia led the world in giving women the right to vote, but Colony by Colony.

 2.2 Not so. In those Colonies where they were permitted to vote, other than Queensland and Western Australia, Aborigines on the rolls could vote and presumably did so. Certainly not all Aborigines were entitled to vote in 1900.

 2.3 The introduction of the new Commonwealth of Australia hastened the granting of the right to vote to Australian women and well before r the referendum of 1967 (approved by the biggest majority of votes ever), all Aborigines (men and women) were given  the right to vote. All eventually benefited from the advantages of the new nation.

 2.4 Whatever its origin in 1901, since they have had the vote, both women and indigenous Australians play an equal democratic part in amending the Constitution, so in that sense it too has become theirs. The Constitution does not discriminate against women or Aborigines.


3.1 Australia is not independent while it has the Queen.

3.1.1 Becoming a republic will make us more independent.

 3.2 The Queen takes advice from British ministers. It is their advice alone that she accepts in all matters of state.

 3.3 The Queen is seen by the world as representing UK and not Australia, which creates confusion. This problem can only be avoided by Australia becoming a republic.

3.4 Australia must be seen as an independent nation, not tied to the apron strings of Britain in any way. The Governor-General does not have the profile of other presidents and monarchs.

3.5 The composition of Australia's population has changed and therefore a Queen drawn from Britain is inappropriate.

3.6 The Queen cannot represent the non-English component of our population, e.g. Australians of South East Asian and Pacific descent.


 3.1 Australia is completely and utterly constitutionally independent. The Queen, as Queen of Australia, is actually a legal entity separate from the Queen of New Zealand or the Queen of Canada, etc.

3.1.1 A republic cannot make us more independent because we are as independent as we can possibly be.
As long ago as 1926 the Imperial Conference of the UK and Dominion (Australia, Canada, NZ etc) Prime Ministers declared:
i) that the Governor-General of a Dominion would stand in the same relationship to his Dominion Parliament as the King then did to the UK Parliament; and
ii) that the King would only pay State (overseas) visits to other countries on behalf of the UK, and that Governors-General would do so on behalf of the other dominions etc. and be treated as a Head of State. Canada's Governor-General paid the first such visit in 1927. Australia's Governor-General first did so in 1971, and since has paid more than 49 State and official visits to 32 foreign countries. Furthermore, only the Governor-General can exercise the powers vested in the Queen.

3.2 The Queen takes advice only from British ministers in the affairs of the UK. In Australian affairs, she takes advice only from her Australian ministers. She has said so and so has Mr P.J. Keating.

 3.3 The person to represent Australia abroad is the Governor-General who has pays official visits overseas as Head of State of Australia. Misconceptions must always be based on ignorance. The Queen is also Head of the Commonwealth—of one third of the world's population—consisting of 53 different countries spread over every continent. Many of them are republics—others are monarchies, some with monarchs other than the Queen! The remedy to this misconception (if it is widespread) is education and informed dipolmacy to clear up the misconception. We got rid of the White Australia Policy, so diplomatically clearing up this minor problem (if it exists) should be simple.

 3.4 A higher international profile for our Governor-General would assert the reality of our independence, as well as our distinctive foreign policy. It would have to be accepted that more overseas visits as Head of State would cost us more in taxation.

 3.5 Britain's population has changed at the same time as Australia's—both are now multi-cultural comunities. Sharing the Queen with other countries is a positive contribution to internationalism. In the past Australia was proud to proclaim it was 'British' and have a 'British Queen'. But both institutions have developed at the same time. We now proudly proclaim our Australian citizenship and we have, in law and in fact, a Queen of Australia, a role filled by Elizabeth II. The monarchy has evolved to meet the new circumstances.

 3.6 When Papua New Guinea has the same person as Queen, and the republic of Fiji wants to become a constitutional monarchy under Elizabeth II again, Australia, with two thirds of its people of 'British' descent should have no difficulty with our present Queen continuing in that role. Furthermore, in the Commonwealth of Nations, of which the Queen is head, those of 'British sh descent' are vastly outnumbered by those of 'non-British descent' amongst its 1.6 billion peoples spread world-wide.


 4. The Head of State in Australia is the Queen.
The Governor-General only acts on her behalf because she is too busy being the British Head of State. Therefore we need a new Head of State who is an Australian citizen, one of us!

 4.1 The Head of State must be appointed by Australians—not hereditary. Furthermore, the Head of State must be a local, a resident for president!
The Constitution of 1901 makes it clear that the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland is our Head of State. It provides that the British Queen:
(i) is part of our Parliament;
(ii) is the person in whom the executive power is vested; and
(iii) may disallow any law even after assent has been given.
Therefore, the English Queen must have the same rights and duties both in UK and in Australia.

4.2 We need a Head of State who represents only the nation of Australia. The Queen is our Head of State but when she travels abroad, she is received as the British Head of State. Thus we are not seen to have our own Head of State who represents only Australian interests.

 4.3 The Australian Head of State must be:
(i) an Australian citizen ('one of us');
(ii) appointed by Australians;
(iii) a resident; and
(iv) representative of only the nation of Australia.


 4. Australia already has just such a Head of State, the Governor-General plus the bonus of the Queen. The republican argument is misleading by its use of the word 'a' (singular) and 'Head of State' (which is a diplomatic term and does not appear at all in our written Constitution of 1901). Some people argues we have two heads of state. Other states have or have had more than one Head of State e.g. England under Queen Mary II and King William III,  Andorra until recently, the former USSR, etc.  It is also inappropriate in the context of our historical evolution as a free democratic independent nation.

 4.1 Our entire system of government is based on the context of our inherited (but absentee) constitutional monarchy. In 1901 it was well understood (and remains true) that countries like Canada, NZ, PNG and Australia have a Sovereign and a constitutional Head of State, which gives us extra checks and balances in our Constitution.

The advantages of having a Sovereign or monarch whose office is inherited  places the monarch entirely beyond political interference or inclination—it ensures that the Sovereign is always above politics and this is reflected in the conduct of the constiutional Heads of State (Governors and Governors-General) who also remain above politics.

 4.2 The High Court in 1907 described  The King or Queen as the Sovereign, the Governor- General as the constitutional head of the Commonwealth and the governor as the Head of State.  An alternative argument is that that we have a divided Head of State system provides us with a Head of State who represents only Australia. Under this we have a symbolic Head of State who is above politics, above corruption, beyond intimidation, owes nobody anything from being elected, and in 15 out of the 16 monarchies of which Elizabeth II is Queen, is not resident, This ensures the utter integrity of the system of government where enormous powers can be safely entrusted to the Queen and her representatives;
(i) because she is only one person and cannot be everywhere at once, in 15 of the 16 countries the Queen must have local representatives. In Australia this is the Governor-General (federally) and six Governors (one in each State);
(iii) as all the Queen's powers given under the Constitution of 1901 are exercisable only by the Governor-General (and not by her), the Governor-General is the local Constitutional Head of State; and
(iv) he claims he is; the government treats him as such; he is received overseas as Head of State and he is one of our Heads of State.

 4.3 It can truly be said that the Governor-General:
(i) is an Australian citizen ('One of us'—in that sense);
(ii) is appointed by Australians (he is nominated to the Queen by the Prime Minister for appointment by her and is invariably so appointed on his or her advice);
(iii) is and must be a resident during such term in office; and
(iv) represents only the nation of Australia.

It is telling that republicans want to confer on their new presidential head of state the identical powers (or a variation of them) now exercised by the Governor-General. No one suggests that the personal powers of the Queen (to appoint on the Prime Minister's or Premiers' nominations the Governor-General and Governors respectively) would be part of those powers. In fact, the Queen would be replaced (if at all!) not by a president but by the parliament or the electorate.

Furthermore, as each independent sovereign country can designate its own Head of State, Australia could confer the title of Head of State on the Governor-General (who once appointed has full plenipotentiary powers) by Act of Parliament. This would involve no alteration to the text of the Constitution of 1901—and make our present constitutional arrangements totally clear to all. The Queen would remain as Queen of Australia—no more and nothing less.


 5A. There are at least four different options to be considered for the process of appointing the president within an Australian republic.

 5A.1 Appointment of the president by a two thirds majority of a joint sitting of both Houses of the Federal Parliament; (the model preferred by the ARM).

 5A.2 Popular election by the voters of Australia. This model is the most popular with the electorate (70% support) according to polls.

 5A.2.1 This model would separate the president's appointment from Parliament and allow any citizen to 'have a go'.

 5.2.2 Every Australian would have a say.

 5A.2.3 The president would gain office only through the endorsement of the electorate.

 5A.3 Establishment of a special Electoral College or committee to preside over the appointment. Various models of this kind have been proposed by the Hon. Richard McGarvie among others.

 5A.4 Prime Minister of the day (polls show that this option commands the support of only 4% of voters).


 5A. Any replacement Head of State system for our present one should deliver at least as good a result as we have at present. Our current system of Governor-General appointed for an indefinite term (usually understood to be five years barring death, emergency such as war, or misbehaviour) by the Queen on the nomination of the Prime Minister. This means the Governor-General must remain above politics, owes nothing to any electorate or political party, has no mandate to act on any political platform of his own, has no political power base to oppose a duly elected government, has the legal power to dismiss a Prime Minister and to call new elections, but only the moral power of his or her integrity and the legal or moral authority of the constitutional monarchy to do so. Every variation from this system either increases the power of the Governor-General (or president) or diminishes it and his powers go to the Prime Minister under an amended Constitution. Either way powers now non-political are given to politicians—president or Prime Minister.

 5A.1 A two thirds majority of all members of Parliament was intended to stop the president becoming the captive or nominee of one political party only. Its faults are these:
(i) It won't work to guarantee an independent president. It did not in Pakistan in 1998 where the President was elected by a 78% majority.
(ii) (a) The Electoral Acts are not presently part of the Constitution and can be changed at any time by Parliament (and are presently under reconsideration).
(b) Before there was proportional representation in the Senate, several parties had absolute majorities of both Houses, so if the Acts were changed back to what they were, it wouldn't operate to prevent one-party domination.
(c) Even under our present electoral laws, the Fraser Government of 1975 came within one vote of controlling both Houses—with only one absentee it would have! So again the proposal is not failsafe.
(iii) Even if its success could be guaranteed, there is a much more basic objection—our politicians have too much power already and will only elect one of their own or someone politically acceptable to them.
(iv) Any president with at least two thirds of the elected representatives' votes would have the greatest mandate and power of anyone in our whole constitutional system of government. Combined with a fixed term (and removal only with extreme difficulty, by impeachment etc.), we would create a power far greater than the Prime Minister's, and no voter would ever have had a direct choice of candidate.
(v) The voices of the larger States (NSW/Vic) will swamp the rest and prejudice the federal position of the smaller States.
(vi) Even the Americans do not let Congress elect their President. In fact the Founders specifically warned against the danger of having the Congress elect the President.

 5A.2 Direct popular election is at least truly democratic, but such a process will give a president almost as much power as the first alternative; a huge mandate of at least half the voters of Australia. He or she will be the only person in the Executive being directly responsible to the people as the Prime Minister answers to his or her party and he or she and the Ministry answer to Parliament between elections.

 5A.2.1 Only millionaires (e.g. Ross Perot) or the candidates of political parties could possibly afford to campaign across Australia, and the average Australian, or member of an ethnic minority, will never stand a chance.

 5A.2.3 A president so elected would have almost as much power as the first alternative; a huge mandate of at least half the voters of Australia.

 5A.3 This is the way the Americans do it but they at least elect their Electoral College. Some plans depend on Chief Justices (which would politicise their offices) or even State Governors (which would vanish under a republic anyhow).

 5A.4 Few take this seriously because it appears so open to abuse, as the new President's office will be essentially political no matter how appointed. It only works for the appointment of Governors-General because they are not and do not act in any party political role. Appointment by the Prime Minister is different to the present system. Although nominated by the Prime Minister, the Governor-General is appointed by the Queen, and must strictly observe the conventions which surround the Crown. The Governor-General acts then as trustee of those powers for the people.

 5B The provisions may use ancient (but well-understood) constitutional language, but they work very well. The issues of a fixed term, method of removal and causes of removal are extremely simple under our present system and designed to strengthen the power of the elected representatives of the people and maintain only one centre of legitimate political power in the nation—the elected government of the day. These objectives will be weakened and threatened by any system of a fixed term for a president with cumbersome machinery for removal. Any new system should at least be as effective, as flexible and as efficient. All republican proposals fail on all three bases.


5B. The provisions in the Constitution that the Governor-General is appointed by the Queen as her representative and at her pleasure are archaic even if it is acknowledged that the powers are used only on the advice of the Prime Minister of the day. It is demeaning to our sense of sovereignty.

5B.1 A president cannot preside for life, so must have a fixed term. Most republicans suggest five years or seven years.

5B.2 In most republics, removal of the Head of State is a parliamentary process. This may however involve one or both Houses of Parliament, the Chief Justice in some capacity, a Constitutional Court or popular referendum. Ultimately however the process and grounds for removal depend on themethod of appointment adopted (appointment by the Prime Minister, Parliament, electoral college or popular election).

513.3 A president must either have some individual or body with the power to remove him or her. Most republicans say this should be the Houses of Parliament voting by a two thirds majority.


5B.1 As the present federal electoral cycle is a limit of three years, any president will span at least more than one parliament in five years or probably two if for seven years. If there is a change of government in between, a political president will be out of sympathy with a hostile government, leading to:
(i) the possibility of serious differences between Parliament and President. Even 'ceremonial' presidents, such as Mary Robinson in Ireland, were political players. Before being elected president she led the third party in Irish politics; and
(ii) as former Commonwealth Solicitor-General Sir Maurice Byers warned, 'irreconcilable appointees are likely to yield chaos'.

 5B.2 If a president must be able to be removed, and the issue does arise, on what basis can a president be removed? It follows that:
(i) the basis for forced removal of president will be even more difficult to establish than the removal of a High Court Judge (last unsuccessfully attempted against the late Justice Lionel Murphy); and
(ii) depending on what they are, the grounds will need to be established (beyond reasonable doubt) and that will take a great length of time—when a week is a long time in politics!

 5B.3 Neither Parliament nor the High Court will be able to successfully remove a president because:
(i) to rely on the High Court removing a president would be to irrevocably politicise that body and cannot be allowed;
(ii) to rely on Parliament to remove a president at all is dangerous, as the president can dissolve Parliament; and
(iii) if the president is misbehaving to the benefit of one political party, getting a two-thirds majority (or any at all) may be impossible, as the party benefiting from this misbehaviour will support him or her. Thus none of these 'solutions' is nearly as good as our present system. It has to be faced that a president once appointed will be virtually irremovable during his or her full term; remember the paralysis of USA over the impeachment of President Nixon—the length of the process, the divisions, the distractions and then his political ally his Vice-President, by now the President, gave him a presidential pardon! It makes our system look like Nirvana, with a simple recall of a non-political figure on the advice of the Prime Minister!


6. There are various approaches to how we should provide for a system of checks and balances in the Constitution.

 6.1 The ARM'S preferred model:

 6.1.1 The office of the president should retain the powers which the Governor-General currently uses, under due conventions or traditions, that have developed over the century.

 6.1.2 A president's powers should be clearly defined (i.e. 'codified), stating that the president acts on the advice of the elected government, except where the government has lost the confidence of the House of Representatives or is breaking the law. Representatives by omitting the third qualification 'or cannot obtain supply (the money to govern)' from the Parliament (which includes the Senate).

 6.2 Not writing down the reserve powers in a republic has several major consequences:
(i) nobody will know for sure what power the president has;
(ii) clashes between president and Prime Minister will be frequent, intractable and destabilise government;
(iii) there will be no body able to enforce the exercise of the powers or compliance with them if they are unresolved and unwritten. Presidents will have a blank cheque and no one sensible will vote for such a system; and
(iv) combined with a long presidential fixed term of office, longer than any House of Representatives or government taken from it, constitutional struggles between president and Parliament may go on for a long period (totally unlike the present very effective, quick and responsive system).

 6.3 'Me honest assessment by former Senator Evans is an endorsement of the present system of constitutional monarchy which, because it has a Head of State system of Queen and her representatives, can be entrusted with undefined powers without risk to the liberty of the people or the stability of government.

6.4 According to Tony Abbott 'this would mean that in times of crisis, the President makes his own rules!' In fact, if a Court cannot review what a president does, he or she will only answer to the electorate at the end of the presidential term, and then only if seeking re-election. Until then there would be no restraint on the office except impeachment by a two-thirds majority of Parliament. But if there has to be a new parliamentary election or if the president dissolves parliament, again the president could avoid or delay being called to account (contrast this with our present system). Remember: presently the so called 'reserve powers' exercisable by the Governor-General are not written down in the Constitution nor Constitutionally agreed as to what they are.


 6. Once the Crown is taken out of the written Constitution, all conventions and traditions must give way to the new law, so that the exact written terms of the new Constitution will no longer by read against that background, i.e. the intention of having a republic will cancel out all existing monarchical conventions.

 6.1 There are several problems with the ARM preferred model:

6.1.1 The president cannot simply keep doing what the Governor-General did because:
(i) if the new Constitution reads: 'the president is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces' he will be. Who is to say he will not be? Is the High Court to be allowed to add its interpretations to such a clear statement? So, too, with every other provision; and
(ii) those who say 'request the President to follow tradition and convention' leave to a president unresolved powers and wide discretion—a highly dangerous course when presidential power will not be as 'representative ve of the Queen' but purely personal and political. Without legal sanctions to enforce the 'request' the president will be a free radical.

6.1.2 The solution of codification (writing them all down), if possible, doesn't solve the problem until you know what they are in every conceivable Constitutional emergency. The code suggested seems innocent, but in fact elevates the power of the House of Representatives.

 6.2 Other republicans including the Keating Government argue that this is not the time to re-open a divisive debate about the Senate's power to block supply (and thus bring down a government). Hence the reserve powers should remain as they are--unwritten.

 6.3 'The definition (of the reserve powers) would be a labour of Hercules. Reformers would have to devote 30 years to the task to have an impact. The ghost of '75 (the political crisis of 1975) is still with us...' (republican the Hon. Gareth Evans).

6.4 The Keating Government proposed to state in the Constitution that the president's powers are subject to the conventions that now govern the Crown—but stipulating that the exercise of these powers can't be reviewed by any court and that the president can only be sacked by a two thirds majority of Parliament.


 7. The Keating Government's Republican Advisory Committee, chaired by Mr Turnbull, Chairman of the Australian Republican Movement, canvassed three options for the States:

 7.1 Option I: the states remain as they are, constitutional monarchies under a federal president.

 7.2 Option II: all States vote to change each of their Constitutions to remove the Queen from them, thus having six State republics, or seven in all.

 7.3 Option III: some States vote to remain monarchies under the Queen and do so.

 7.4 The majority of States and voters needed to create a republic federally use their powers to override the wishes and Constitutions of those States that would otherwise have remained monarchies. Professor Winterton has suggested a clause be inserted in the new Constitution preventing the Governor of any State from representing or being appointed by the Queen or any foreign government.


See how you have to read the fine print in complex matters! The former Keating Government's preferred republican model dodged the supply question-no doubt because it believed the people like things the way they are!

 7. Each Australian State is an independent monarchy under the Constitution. Thus one aspect of the debate is about whether we have one republic or seven.

 7.1 If the States remain monarchies, but we have a federal president, Australians will have divided loyalties, owing allegiance to the Queen of Australia as Queen of NSW, Queen of Queensland and soon, and to 'Australia' (however defined) through the symbolism of a president. Surely this would defeat the alleged purpose of the republicans to unify Australia with new symbols of our nationhood!

 7.2. This seems to be the only reasonable way to proceed, but would need seven new Constitutions in all, all enacted simultaneously. Some States have 'entrenched' Constitutions, some of which only the people can alter, while others can be altered merely by Act of Parliament. The Australia Acts confirmed that the Queen is represented in each State by a Governor. Amendment of the Australia Act may be made by the federal Parliament but only at the request and approval of all State Parliaments. Little public attention has yet been given to this aspect of republicanism, except that attempts in NSW to downgrade the office of Governor and deny him residence in Government House led to prolonged public protest, a street march to Parliament House by 15 000-20 000 protesters and a voter backlash.

 7.3 This alternative was adopted in the Federation of Malaysia where some States are local monarchies and some are not. Few people regard it as satisfactory and some regard it as absurd for Australia. Would it not divide the country instead of unifying it?

 7.4 This option, even if it has constitutional validity, which is doubtful, has enormous political drawbacks and would no doubt enrage the States over States' rights and many voters in other States who would not want to crush an unwilling State by mere majoritorianism. It is a measure, though, of the lengths to which republicans will consider going—'republicanism at all


 8. Given that there is sufficient support, a republic would require a process including a referendum.

 8.1 Relying on the precise terms of Section 128 of the Constitution, broadly speaking, a republic can be effected by amendments to the Constitution passed by 'a majority of the electors voting', together with 'a majority of electors voting' 'in a majority of States'. Such amendments will first of all have to be passed in the House of Representatives and the Senate 'by absolute majorities', (or twice passed by one House and the Governor-General using his powers under Section 128 to present it to the people). As the government is the source of advice to the Governor-General and normally controls the House of Representatives, any referendum in practice will need government support or acquiescence.

 8.2 The Acting Solicitor-General's advice to the Republic Advisory Committee suggests that even if it were contested whether the process established under Section 128 could not amend the covering clauses of the Constitution, the High Court would be reasonably likely to uphold an amendment.

 8.3 If necessary, a majority of voters overall and in a majority of States could force recalcitrant States to become republics against the wishes of the majority of voters in those States.

8.4 However high the Constitutional obstacles may seem, we must be prepared to tackle them if we feel passionately about the cause and really mean to reap the benefits when Australia finally becomes a republic.


 8. Even if there is enough support, the road to a republic will be an extremely rocky one, but short of revolution can only come about (if at all) by referendum as a first step.

 8.1 Section 128, whichever procedure is used, may not be the end of the story, but only the beginning. For instance, the Preamble is clearly not part of the Schedule of the Act which contains the Constitution of 1901. Thus it is debatable whether a referendum is appropriate or effective to change it.

8.2 The preamble to the Constitution Act, of which 'the Constitution' is a schedule, recites the prior agreement of 'the people' of the Colonies 'humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God' to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established'.
The counter argument runs:
i) after the Australia Acts confirmed the termination of any power of the UK Parliament to extend to Australia, and as Section 128 clearly only applies to 'this Constitution', i.e. the schedule to the UK Act, who now has legal power to alter the Constitution Act itself?;
ii) others say, need it be altered?; and
iii) others say, if it needed the consent of all States to unite under the Crown, may it not need the consent of all States to abolish the Crown?

 8.3 Any referendum may not affect the position of State Governors. As Sir Harry Gibbs explains:
There is a strong argument that a referendum supported in a majority of States, but not in all States, would not be enough to affect the position of State Governors as representatives of Her Majesty. The position of State Governors is entrenched by the Australia Act, and that Act can be amended only by an Act passed at the request or with the concurrence of the Parliaments of all the States, or by an Act passed pursuant to powers conferred on the Commonwealth Parliament by an alteration of the Constitution made in future through a referendum.

However, it is doubtful whether an alteration to the Constitution which affected the Governors of all of the States, could be made unless a majority of electors in all States voted in favour of the alteration. There is a further argument that the monarchical character of the Constitution is established by the Constitution Act (not merely by the Constitution itself), and that no amendments to the Constitution could validly give the Commonwealth Parliament power to amend that Act.

 8.4 As an independent, sovereign nation, we, the people of Australia, can undoubtedly do as we please, but to do it legally and effectually, constructively and symbolically, we will need the overwhelming goodwill and cooperation of the people across the whole continent. To proceed otherwise would be foolhardy—and get any republic off to a very rocky start!


 9. Not only is a republic 'inevitable' (see next heading), but Republican support is growing according to opinion polls, and hence a referendum will be successful.

 9.1 The republic will need the support of all parties if it is to be successful. It already has the support of the ALP, the Democrats, the Greens and various independents and a significant number of coalition members in the Federal Parliament. The referendum will proceed when there are strong indications of political and social support.

 9.2 All polls suggest growing support for the republic, especially among younger Australians.


 9. Monarchists point out it is never easy to get a referendum to succeed, even if it looks promising according to the polls.

 9.1 The history of referenda in this country is not promising for successful change. Although 42 amendments have been proposed to the Constitution and put to the people at referenda, only on eight occasions have amendments been approved—in 1906, 1910,1928, 1946,1967 and 1977 (3 amendments). The rest were rejected.

Those approved included provisions dealing with Senate elections and Senate casual vacancies, State debts, social services, the retirement of Federal Judges (at age 70), Aborigines and referenda (giving Territories the vote in referenda). Nothing controversial has passed. Nothing opposed by a major party has passed. Nothing seen as giving more power to politicians has passed.

Where 25%-35% of the voters are strenuously opposed to a republic and over 40%'undecided', success seems unlikely in the foreseeable future.
Referendum campaigns which started with even 80% support in opinion polls, have failed at the ballot box.

 9.2 Analysing opinion polls is a matter of opinion and judgement. Results depend very much on the questions asked, the political circumstances when they are asked and who asks whom what question. In fact, some opinion polls suggest that younger voters may not be as Republican as the middle-aged.


 10. Some republicans claim that 'a republic is inevitable', others have reservations. Those who do say that, put simply, 'a republic is inevitable.

 10.1 The republic marks the natural progression in our Constitutional development; thus, it is logical that it will simply occur.

 10.2 That the republic is inevitable has been a continuing theme in the debate, and McKenna (republican author of The Captive Republic: A History of Republicanism in Australia) considers that the belief in its inevitability has been one of the reasons for its postponement.

 10.3 'Inevitability' (by Republicans) 'was a sign of weakness, not its cause.' Dr J.M. Hirst (ARM Convenor in Victoria)


 10. Only the people, by their vote, will allow a change of their Constitution. Thus, it is far from 'inevitable'.

10.1 Despite the appeal of this argument, it is ultimately unconvincing, as demonstrated by the following quotations:
(i) 'Nothing is inevitable—except death and taxes' by Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790);
(ii) 'The inevitable never happens. It is the unexpected always' by John Maynard Keynes; and
(iii) 'The only referenda that have succeeded in recent years have enjoyed bipartisan support and carried not the slightest risk of affording significant new powers to politicians. So when I hear the assertion of 'inevitability', I spare a thought for history' by the Hon. Michael Kirby

 10.2 Often, when people say, 'Oh, it's inevitable', they mean they want to avoid both argument and discussion of the topic of the republic. To count 'inevitables' as active Republicans is as fatuous as to count all those who say they are 'undecided'.

 10.3 If Republicans really believed the republic was 'inevitable', they could safely sit back and let the 'inevitable' happen. There are two reasons why they do not: first, personal ambition to be remembered in history for bringing it about, and secondly, because they do not believe it to be 'inevitable' at all, as it has no demonstrable advantages over our present system and many demonstrable features that are much worse.


In addition to the ten major Republican arguments considered so far, debates are often peppered with apparently self-justifying assertions by Republicans, which gain currency by repetition but which, on analysis, are often highly suspect and certainly far from self-evident or convincing. Here are ten of them.

Often the most persuasive reason that Republicans give for wanting to become a republic is that they perceive the Queen to be a foreigner. Although this is the principal sentiment of the Republican cause, on examination, many of these remarks appear to be of a superficial nature. The argument comes in many guises, and each one is considered below:


1. The phrase 'one of us' needs closer scrutiny; it is reminiscent of one volk. In what way is the Queen not one of us?

1.1 Is it because the Queen resides overseas—as do many Australians at present? Are they not one of us? Dame Joan Sutherland, David Malouf, Robert Hughes, Clive James, Germain Greer, Greg Norman, Arthur Boyd (six months of the year), even Thomas Kenneally when they are away?

1.2 Is it because of her genealogy—part Scot, mainly German (the family only changed its name to Windsor in 1917) and related to members of nearly every country in Europe?

1.3 Is it because she is Queen of 16 different countries—Where will that leave those with dual nationality in our country—aren't they 'one of us'?

1.4 As our Constitutional Head of State, the Governor-General is both an Australian citizen and resident here—isn't that enough?


2. We don't have any relationship with the 'English' Queen or 'The Queen of England'. There hasn't been a Queen of England since the Union with Scotland in 1707.

2.1 As Australia is an independent sovereign country, we have and owe allegiance only to Elizabeth II as Queen of Australia—not as Queen of New Zealand, Queen of Canada or Queen of England if they mean the United Kingdom.

2.2 If we don't have Elizabeth II, we will need someone else to be King or Queen or tear up our Constitution, as the Crown and its representatives appear in one-third of its provisions and merely to eliminate references to the Crown will need 76 alterations.


3. What is meant by a 'foreigner'?

3.1 The Queen is by law (the Constitution) an essential part of our Federal Parliament, just as she is of every State Parliament. She is also, by law, reaffirmed by our Parliaments as recently as 1986, 'Queen of Australia'. She is certainly not 'foreign' to our Constitution. Every valid executive act in Australia since 1788 (and since 1901) has been done in the name of and by the lawful authority of the Queen or her predecessors—how much more integral to a country can one be?

3.2 Is it suggested that Elizabeth II is British and thus 'foreign' to Australia? If so, what of the two million British migrants and residents who have lived here (some nearly all their lives) who vote and pay taxes? Are they, too, 'foreigners'?

3.3 In a 'global village' with a 'global' market, isn't it rather childish to divide the world into 'us' and 'them' or 'us' and 'foreigners'. Where does it leave our vaunted multicultural policies—do they apply to everyone except the Queen?


4. The Queen is certainly not an Australian citizen.

4.1 Monarchs are not citizens of any country. The Queen is no more nor less than our country's Queen. Elizabeth II is not a citizen of Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Canada or the United Kingdom either. The Monarch forgoes many privileges, such as the right to vote, the right to a passport, and the right to take part in politics, so that the Queen is kept out of the day-to-day political battle.

4.2 Ironically, nobody is or can be a citizen of Australia except by an Act of Parliament, which only gained its effect when the Queen of Australia's assent was granted.

4.3 How can one who has been part of giving citizenship to others be a lesser part of the body politic than those who choose to take out citizenship?

4.4 To be a citizen is only one way to belong to a country. Many Australians live and work here and pay taxes who are citizens of another country or dual citizens. As its symbolic head and an essential part of each of the State and Federal Constitutions, the Queen is in those ways more a part of Australia than anyone else.


5. Opening the Games is a huge task. Whoever does it merely says, 'I now declare these Olympic Games open'. It takes all of, say, twenty seconds! For this reason, some Republicans say they want to tear up seven Constitutions, have seven presidents, a new flag and a new anthem by the year 2000!

5.1 Most republics have come about through revolution (USA), war (Germany) or repetition (France is on its fifth!), but Australia will be the world's laughing stock forever, being the only republic to come about because of a twenty-second speech before a sporting carnival.

5.2 In any event, the Prime Minister will probably advise our Head of State, who receives all Ambassadors, who travels abroad as our Head of State, who assents to all our laws and is part of our Parliament and Head of our Executive Government, with all the powers of the Constitution at his command—our Australian Governor-General—to open the Games or do it himself! What do you think?


6. The republican assertion can be stated as 'the Queen, as Queen of the UK, betrayed Australia at Strasbourg because she addressed the European Parliament not as Queen of Australia but as Queen of the United Kingdom'.

6.1 This is one of the deceptions put about by those who should know better. Nothing the Queen said at Strasbourg could possibly lead a sane person to say she betrayed Australia. Four times in a four-page speech, she urged the EEC to look at the interests of those outside it. As the Queen of Australia, is it to be said that if Australia joins APEC, Elizabeth II is betraying the UK?


7. The one person in the whole Constitutional debate from whom no Australian has anything to fear is the Queen. She has discharged her duties assiduously since 1952; she has visited Australia (when given permission by her Australian Ministers—she cannot just rock up here when she likes!) on no fewer than twelve occasions; in 1954 as the new Queen; and in 1963,1970, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1988 and 1992.

7.1 She has seen more of Australia than most Australians, and worked with every Prime Minister since Menzies—Holt, McEwan, Gorton, McMahon, Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke, Keating and Howard. She has been part of our nation for 45 years and takes a keen interest in Australia.

7.2 Because the UK joined the European Common Market, the Convenor of the ARM in Victoria, historian Dr J.M. Hirst, has more than once labelled the Queen (not her country) an 'enemy'—an emotive slander against someone who drove trucks as part of the Allied war effort, on our side, in World War II.


8. We have a resident for the Constitutional Head of State—that has worked well here for the whole of Australia's history. There is no need to change it. No one else can exercise the powers of our Head of State, certainly not the Queen who is precluded by the words of the Constitution of 1901.

8.1 Implicit in this is the assumption that anyone can stand for election as President, but could they or would they? Sir Zelman Cowen has said he wouldn't. Unless one were a millionaire, who could afford it but a nominee of a political party? Thus we'd get a local millionaire (like Ross Perot in the USA) or a political nominee- (Labor's Whitlam, Hawke or Keating; Liberal's Gorton or Fraser; the Democrats' Chipp or Kernot; One Nation's who?).

8.2 Would 'residency' be the only criterion? Could anyone who merely lives here be our president, e.g. foreign visitors, recent arrivals and dual citizens?

8.3 In the USA, Presidents must have been born in the country—would we go that far and exclude all our migrants, a quarter of our population?

8.4 Could someone with dual nationality be president, owing allegiance to Australia and another country at the same time, as many Australians do? (But wait a minute, isn't that what Republicans claim was wrong with the 'foreign' Queen?).

8.5 Why did the former Keating government's Republican proposal exclude active politicians from standing for five years after they had been in Parliament? Does anyone seriously believe a man of honour abandons his life's principles or his friends after five years?

8.6 What other surprises lie behind 'a resident for president? If all they want is another resident Head of State (in addition to the one we have), perhaps a local monarchy that lived here would satisfy them (now it was Republican Paddy McGuinness who first suggested that).


9. As the Republican Advisory Committee reported, the Queen's personal duties under the Constitution are very limited—to appoint (and remove) Governors-General (and Governors in the States). This occurs about once every five years; it is hardly exhausting (however, her ceremonial and social duties, touring Australia and her other realms, takes more—but not a great deal more—time).

9.1 We thus have all the advantages of the system of constitutional monarchy without the upkeep of a resident monarch (£189 million a year in the United Kingdom—to which Australia contributes not a penny!). Governors and Governors-General cost only what their respective parliaments allow them. Their salaries are presently comparable with those of Supreme Court Judges.

9.2 Thus, our 'minimal monarchy' is designed to run on its own, almost completely within Australia—as are the Queen's other self-contained realms in their own territories. Only in the UK is the Queen the Constitutional as well as the symbolic Head of State.

9.3 By sharing Elizabeth II with other countries, we have no legal links with them but share in the symbol of an institution which, after the Papacy, is the oldest institution in Europe, noted for its integrity, unquestionably above politics, completely unambitious and which by its very existence thwarts the ambitions of those would desire to seize both the power and the glory of the State (as, for instance, the President of France, has done).

9.4 Republicans (including the ARM and the former Keating Government) say that Australia will remain in the Commonwealth of Nations, of which the Queen is Head.

How come we can share her as the symbol of the free association of 1.6 million people from 53 countries, from every continent (even countries such as Mozambique, which had no previous association with the UK or the British Empire), but we cannot share her as Queen with 16 other countries, including great sister democracies such as New Zealand, Canada and the UK and neighbouring Papua New Guinea because once every five years she appoints our Prime Minister's nominee as Governor-General. It is all too silly for words!


10. The suggestion (by Mr Keating) that the Queen must go because 'the British betrayed us in Asia in World War II' was about the lowest point of his Republican campaigning. Not only was it bad history, it was bad politics; people with British sympathies or who lost relatives fighting alongside the British forces never forgave him.

10.1 Firstly, it is a non-sequitur—it doesn't follow—even if the claims were true.

10.2 Secondly, the claim is nonsense.

10.3 The British had to garrison a worldwide Empire alone at the time of the fall of Singapore; few people expected the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbour or enter the land war in South East Asia, nor if they did, that their armed forces would be so efficient or mobile.

10.4 Singapore was a military disaster for UK and Australian forces. The British suffered very heavy losses (HMShips Prince of Wales and Repulse, thousands of men etc.) as it did in the early days of the war against Germany it was fighting at the same time.

10.5 Nevertheless, the British regrouped in India. Viscount Slim fought the Burma Campaign, UK and USA fought back alongside Australian forces and eventually won.

10.6 At the end of the Pacific War, Britain had over 600 warships in the Pacific.

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 constitutionalists 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 unwieldy. 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.




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.


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


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.



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), by an electoral college elected by the people (USA), or by 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.


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.


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!



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 a hereditary monarchy in a modern responsible democracy is for the 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 it 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 the 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.


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


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 could 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.

It seems to me that these illustrations are enough to get any debater started on similar topics. Perhaps in a later edition, we may enlarge them, but now there seems to be enough to go on with.

May I wish one and all much happiness in debating, much enlightenment from exploring the topic, and much fellowship from respecting the views of each other?

Let us all remember at all times that the overwhelming majority of those who debate this topic sincerely believe they are championing what they think is best for Australia. No one wants either to imperil our freedom, frustrate our governance, detract from our international standing or stand in the way of the democratic will.

Similarly, monarchists and republicans alike want to share their insight with each other and wish the people of Australia to whom even knowledge that we have a Constitution (in both senses) in the Commonwealth and the States is (or would be) a complete revelation, let alone any detailed knowledge of any constitutional machinery or terms, or the likely or possible effects of even minor change. So go to it—the future of our nation is being debated - let's be in it to win it!



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Crowned Republic

A Crowned Republic is a form of government that features a monarch who serves as a symbolic, ceremonial leader with limited authority over matters related to the executive branch and constitutional issues. This type of system is exemplified by countries like Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom, which are officially classified as constitutional monarchies. Additionally, the term can be applied to historical republics where the head of state held the title of "doge," such as those found in Venice, Genoa, and the Republic of San Marino. In these cases, the monarch's role was largely symbolic, with actual governance being carried out by elected officials or other government bodies. Overall, a crowned republic is a unique blend of monarchical and republican features in which the monarch's role is largely symbolic but still serves an important ceremonial function.
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