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Convenor's Column
Referendum predicted years before Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Tuesday, 13 May 2003
On a recent visit to Toowoomba to speak at a prize giving, I was told  that Frank Brennan, in a book on Mabo,  had accurately predicted the holding of the  referendum in November 1999  years before.  Father Brennan is the son of the former Chief Justice, Sir Gerard Brennan.  He is a Jesuit priest, but is better known for his legal and political commentaries.  So on my return I looked up his book, “One Land, One Nation, Mabo Towards 2001.” It was published by the University of Queensland in 1995.

 

 

 

 

In it, at page 206, the author proposes that ATSIC and other Aboriginal organisations should publish a blueprint for constitutional reform on 27 May 1997. He  chose this date because it was the 30th anniversary of

 

the 1967 referendum on aboriginal matters.  Aboriginal matters apart, he suggested that the blue print contain a package of constitutional reforms including provision for a "resident Australian to be Head of State.” There is of course a very good argument that we already have one - this is code among republicans as an indirect way of asking for a republic.

 

 

Republicans are often reluctant to use the word republic. During the referendum campaign, Malcolm Turnbull astounded even the republican press when he proposed the words "republic" and "president" be deleted from the question for the referendum. And Bob Carr wanted the republic to be headed by a Governor- General, not a President.

 

 

Frank Brennan's prediction was accurate. "The referendum,” he wrote, “should then be held in November 1999".  And it was- on 6 November 1999.  Then he says this resident Head of States could then be "chosen" (note he does not say elected) and "installed for the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics."  This would be opened by a resident Head of State.

 

.

 

Remember the deadlines by which republicans insisted we Australians must change our constitution -  the new century, the  new millennium , the centenary of Federation , and, yes,  the  Olympics.

 

 

 

Frank Brennan is credited by some commentators with influencing his father about aboriginal matters generally. Sir Gerard Brennan was part of the High Court bench which handed down the controversial decision in Mabo which even today is lauded by some and criticised by others.

 

Perhaps we should have paid more attention to this book. Sir Gerard, incidentally, was one of the three knights (the others were Sir Anthony Mason and Sir Zelman Cowan) who famously testified to the safety of the 1999 republican model.  The Australian newspaper, then campaigning for the republic, put this on its front page. This was the model the Vote No campaign described as the "politician's republic", the one in which we said "it would be easier for the Prime Minister to sack the President than his driver."

 

 

As we know, the referendum was defeated, overwhelmingly. But the author was correct in one respect. A resident Head of State did open the Olympics! (We know Sir William Deane was the Head of State. His prime, Paul Keating, said he was).

 

 

 
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother - 4 August 1900 ? 30 March 2002 Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Thursday, 11 April 2002
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother.
Read more...
 
Australia chooses Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Tuesday, 13 November 2001

The following is an opinion piece from The Age. Apart from amtters relating to the ACM mission, it does not represent the views of ACM

 

"Almost 2500 years ago Confucius said that good government obtains when the
population is made happy, and those who are far off are attracted.

On this criterion, Australia is a very well governed country.  That is why
Australians have just returned John Howard to a third term with a record swing
to him.

Any government’s core functions are the defence of the borders, law and order, a
framework for economic progress, education and the safety net for the
disadvantaged.

Read more...
 
The conservative ascendancy Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Thursday, 08 November 2001
On 9 November, 2001, The Australian published this opinion piece, describing me as being  involved in the Referendum as National  Convenor of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy. These views are of course mine and outside of our mission, not  those of ACM. 


"We humans design our political institutions, but they then take on their own
life.  Change them, and we may change politics significantly.

For example, if we moved to proportional representation, we would put paid to
our stable two party system.

And if we were to adopt the only republican model in which the public shows any
interest at all, Australian politics would change beyond recognition.  With the
mandate of direct popular election, and with vice-regal powers untrammelled by
convention, the president would be formidable.  He or she would - and would be
expected to - pull the politicians into line.  The President would in effect be
a politician chosen because of perceived leadership qualities.

Read more...
 
The Tampa affair Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Wednesday, 07 November 2001

The following was oublished in the Australian Financial Review of & Novemebr, 2001.

Clearly constitutional monarchisits will not have one view on these matters- no should they. But many suporters asked me my view, which was the subject of this opinion piece . In offering this, I stress it is not ACM's view-it is the view of one ACM supporter.


There were two reactions to the government’s handling of the Tampa incident. 
One was the overwhelming support of the public.  The other was the overwhelming
condemnation of the nation’s opinion leaders."

Read more...
 
Gough Whitlam still campaigning Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Monday, 05 November 2001


I like to say in speeches that all of Australia’s great Prime Ministers were monarchists, and that apart from two, all were monarchists in office.

 I shall let the reader decide into which or both categories Edward Gough Whitlam falls.

 In a recent wide ranging opinion piece, he called on the Herald’s journalists to write on one particular matter relating to the constitution, one which Mr Whitlam has been relying on as an argument for a republic. (As if some journalist needed any encouragement!)

I replied  with this letter:

Read more...
 
The senator and the "last" Governor-General Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Sunday, 10 June 2001

Surely it was all settled in 1999. Notwithstanding all the money, resources and propaganda that the new establishment used to browbeat the people – Australians clearly prefer their constitution to the alternative.

 And that was the best – and second model – that all the talent brains and money of the Australian Republican Movement could produce. They had a decade, and they had millions and millions of your – not their – money. But you can’t keep a good republican down. 

 Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, the Democrats new national leader, filed an opinion piece for Australian Financial Review, on 26 April 2001. It was provocatively headed “The Last Governor-General does not speak for contemporary Australia."

 The Financial Review published my letter in reply on 27 April. 26 April 2001:

"Sir,  

It must be galling for Senator Stott-Despoja (Australian Financial Review 26/4) that Australians overwhelmingly rejected the republic. Clearly for two reasons. The model for which she so vigorously campaigned had serious defects. In fact, she enumerated them in her powerful ten-page dissent to the parliamentary report on the Referendum Bill!

The other reason was, people couldn't see the need for change. Or as Malcolm Turnbull wrote in his diary, four months before the vote "we have Buckley's" chance of winning - nobody is interested.

When the Senator launched a Law Foundation paper on the referendum on 9 June 1999 at Government House Sydney, she startled the audience by asking why Australia had not become a republic?

After all, said the Senator, Canada had!

The Senator is equally misinformed in her belief that the Governor-General is responsible to the Queen of England. Not so much that there hasn't been a Queen of England for about three centuries!

The point is the Governor-General was not appointed by the Queen of the United Kingdom. He was appointed by The Queen of Australia.

This is a distinction of such importance that the High Court removed another Senator for not understanding this and not renouncing her allegiance to the Queen of the United Kingdom.

 In any event, having appointed the Governor General, The Queen cannot reverse any of his decisions, as was famously pointed out by the Palace in 1975. The point is that no one has yet devised any other system other than Australia's (and Canada's) which consistently ensures we have Heads of State above politics.

Yours etc,

David Flint "

 

The Senator has since maintained a discreet silence on the question of a republic.

 
The Australian editorialises for a republic Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Sunday, 10 June 2001

Just after the announcement of the appointment of the new Governor-General, The Australian’s editorial returned to the question of a republic.

I responded with this letter;

"Sir,

I hope you will allow the following  response from Australians for Constitutional Monarchy to the very strong editorial in the 28-29 April edition.

You are right to editorialise (28-29 April) that we neither chose the new Governor-General nor indeed our Sovereign in the sense of electing them. But in 1999 Australians did indicate their overwhelming preference for our existing constitutional system. And this was against a strong campaign overwhelmingly supported and argued by our nation's rich new establishment.

 It is clear from the history of referenda that the Australian people will not allow any tinkering around with the constitution.

They are right in this, witness tinkering with the reserve powers in Sweden, and with the electoral system in New Zealand.

The point is that if Australians decide at some time to move to a republic - I stress if - they want two things. First, they choose the President and secondly the President have real powers - and not just in a crisis. How this would work with the Westminster system is anybody's guess. In that situation, the American system seems attractive - if you like wall-to-wall politicians, that is not only in the executive legislature but also in the judiciary. There is no leadership beyond politics in their system and the nation is consumed with adversary politics. That may seem very democratic, but there is an unanswered question about the US constitution. Why, unlike ours, has it never been successfully exported?

Yours etc,

 David Flint "

.

 
Keating v. Menzies Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Sunday, 10 June 2001

In April, a wartime letter from Robert Gordon Menzies to our High Commissioner in London, Stanley Bruce was “found”. It formed the basis of an attack on one of the greatest and certainly most successful Prime Ministers.

Most of the letter had in fact been previously published.

Paul Keating, never backward when he can drag Menzies reputation down, thundered that this was proof of Menzies cowardly policy of appeasement.

That Menzies was an arch royalist no doubt explains much of Keating’s hatred – but both Curtin and Chifley were monarchists too. In fact Curtin recommended a Royal Duke as Governor-General!

I sent a response to this letter to the Sydney Morning Herald: 30 April 2001 :

Read more...
 
Laurie Oakes reproaches John Howard Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Sunday, 10 June 2001

Among the several things the Bulletin’s Laurie Oakes reproaches John Howard for, one is that we are not a republic.

That John Howard did what Paul Keating didn’t - actually let the people vote on the republicans’ preferred model – seems to be beside the point.

I suspect the letters editors think it boring to allow anyone to write against the republic.But  editors don’t seem to want to stop their journalists from raising the same issue incessantly. After all, the people did vote No.

 So I pointed this out in this unpublished letter to The Bulletin.

Read more...
 
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