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ACM Home arrow Head of State

Head of State

Head of State

The only serious argument republicans make to advance their cause is that "we need an Australian as Head of State".

It was argued nine times in the official Yes case sent to all electors in the 1999 referendum. Malcolm Turnbull told the Parliamentary Committee investigating the referendum bill that replacing The Queen with an Australian citizen as Head of State was the most important part of the change.

There is overwhelming evidence that the Governor-General is Head of State. We have posted a large number of articles on this website dealing with this question,  including republican attempts to deny that the Governor General is Head of State.

If you wish to point friends or family to this section, they can  click on the icon "Head of State" in the left hand column of our frontpage at www.norepublic.com.au

A selection of our reports and videos follow. The most relevant outside links are:

   
  • Quadrant: Head of State debate resolved  Further discussion of the decision in R v South Australia with an account of republican attempts to ignore the overwhelming argument that the Governor-General is Australia's Head of State.
 

 

 



Quadrant: Head of State debate resolved Print E-mail
Head of State
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Thursday, 03 July 2008

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[The inaugural ceremonial session in Melbourne in 1903 of Australia's ultimate authority on the Constitution, the High Court]

Paul Keating once announced that he would hold a republican plebiscite. The question would be whether the people wanted an Australian as Head of State.

It was left to Mr Lloyd Waddy, as the learned judge then was, to deliver the coup de grâce.

As ACM’s National Convener, he informed an intrigued media  that he would advise his supporters to vote Yes.

But why, they asked.

Mr. Waddy replied along these lines: “ Because  they already have, in the person of His Excellency the Governor-General, an Australian as Head of State.”

The journalists duly reported these words.  Mr. Keating was, unusually, reduced to complete silence.

Never again was the word “plebiscite” to fall from those grim lips.

Instead he appointed the Republic Advisory Committee consisting only of republicans, including the future co-chairman of the 2020 Summit, Dr Glyn Davis.

They went on a grand tour of the country to hear from a clamouring public about their no doubt excited reaction to the Keating proposal to free them from monarchist tyranny.

 

But as Tony Abbott said, some of their public meetings   could  have been held ....in a phone booth.



...curing the brain drain.. 



Then leading republicans began to make a series of “spontaneous” statements to the media about the benefits Australians would receive from a republic.

Only a conspiracy theorist would have thought these had been orchestrated by the republican high command.

But almost every week a new and astounding claim would be made.

It was like those old television campaigns where with, say, the rowing machine, you would get a set of steak knives, but if you phoned in now, a ticket for a healthy fat free hamburger, and then the presenter would say  “And that’s not all.....today we are offering each purchaser a toaster.”

Quite clearly, the republicans have been going to the same advertising agency. Do you remember the stunning effect of the recent Mate for a Head of State campaign that swept the country?  ( See “SPECIAL REPORT:The republicans' major campaign in 2006-  A Mate for Head of State,"   13 August 2006.)


Well in the earlier “ spontaneous” campaign, Australians were offered a series of benefits they would get if they bought the vague notion of some sort of yet to be defined republic.

We were told, week by week, by some republican grandee that a republic would boost employment, immigration, trade, investment, and diplomatic status, free our artists, save the Indonesian and French foreign offices from confusion, and stop Australian expatriates from being confused by Americans for Britons.

Then when the republicans finally worked out what they wanted, we were told by Robert Hughes that anyone who voted No in 1999 was stupid. That’s it... stupid.

And if we disobeyed this injunction, and did vote No, the then Vice Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, Professor Gilbert, said we would be the laughing stock of Asia.

We subsequently received considerable praise in Asia because of the roles we played in the Asian financial meltdown, the liberation of East Timor, and for the victims of the tsunami.

(If you wish to know who made most of these claims, consult the authority on these matters : Sir David Smith, Head of State, Macleay Press, 2005, reviewed  in this column 0n 12 April, 2006, pages 190- 192, with some additions in The Cane Toad Republic, 1999, pages 25-28:“The republic will stop the brain drain, arthritis, etc.”)



....the Mugabe model...
 



But the principal reason advanced by republicans for what an ARM leader said would be the biggest structural change to the Constitution since Federation was to have an Australian as Head of State.

During the Corowa Republican Conference in 2001, a Zimbabwean-born academician, Dr. Bede Harris, said the reason he wanted Australia to become a republic was that his young daughter could aspire to be  head of state.

 John Paul, who was sitting next to me, interjected in a loud voice, to peals of laughter, “We already know of the McGarvie model; now we have the Mugabe model.”

 

Dr Barry Jones, the chairman allowed a feline smile.  Mr. Justice McGarvie laughed heartily. But from his querulous look, Dr. Harris clearly did not appreciate the resounding roars of laughter which had met his statement of what all bien pensants  would surely hope to be the fate of  his or her offspring.
 

 ...debate resolved...


 

Now an article in the latest issue of Quadrant, “The Head of State Debate Resolved,” argues that an authoritative ruling by the High Court has finally settled the debate. This is in the July- August 2008 issue of Quadrant, one of Australia’s leading intellectual magazines.


I must admit, in all modesty, that I am the author of that piece.

In doing so, I recall the words of Winston Churchill when Clement Atlee was described as a modest man.

Churchill added, “and with much to be modest about.”

(For those who are not aware of the singular role Quadrant plays in Australia, it is edited by the noted author and historian, Keith Windschuttle who was recently appointed to succeed the late PP McGuiness, and with Les Murray as literary editor.

Available, as they say, in “all good news agents,” price $8.50, the issue  also contains contributions from Dr. Brendan Nelson, Dame Leonie Kramer, Cardinal Pell, Dr. Sophie Masson Hal Colebatch,  Paul Monk, John Stone, Bishop Tom Frame, Les Murray, Frank Devine, Peter Ryan etc.)


The point is that if there is a plebiscite, the spin doctors would have been tempted to centre it on an Australian as Head of a State.

There is no doubt, no doubt at all, that diplomatically, and under international law, the Governor-General is Head of State. 

Sir David Smith has published a powerful argument that the Governor-General is also the Constitutional Head of State.

 

There has been no serous argument disputing this. Saying it is “nonsense” or a “fraud” or a “lie” as some academicians and lawyers have said is not an argument.

Indeed some republicans have long realised that the debate does not advantage their cause. As Professor George Winterton observed in 2004, this is an arid an increasingly irrelevant battle over nomenclature.  (See this column, “2004 Neville Bonner Oration, “5 November 2004).


But now, we have found a decision of the High Court, the ultimate authority on the Constitution, which is on all fours with the monarchist position that the Governor-General is Head of State.
 
The decision was unanimous. It has been referred to since and in no way has the High Court  resiled from it. It was by a formidable bench, made up of our Founding Fathers, all of whom had played a major role in the political life of our country.

According to the Court, the State Governor is a “constitutional head of state” and the Governor- General is the “constitutional head of the Commonwealth”.

 The Court even uses the same language constitutional monarchists use in explaining the place of The Queen or The King.

 She or he is “the Sovereign.”

The game is up.

Our republicans will have to find another reason for a republic.

A cure for arthritis, or scabies, perhaps?



  ...vulgar abuse... 



It is extraordinary then that one of the 2020 Summit delegates, Professor Robert Manne, with Dr. Mark McKenna, recently employed language not usually used in debate in the academy to  denounce  the constitutional monarchists conclusion that, both diplomatically and constitutionally , the Governor-General is Head of State ( this column,” 2020 Summit blunder: governance experts wrong,”  30 March 2008).

Dr McKenna’s involvement is curious. He has previously admitted Australians are not (and never have been) anti-monarchical.

In 2005, he wrote that the head of state argument is “the chief flaw in the arguments for a republic.”  ( See this column, “[Princess] Mary's Visit A Disaster For Republicans,”  13 March, 2005 

An Australian head of state alone is not enough to get the republic over the line, he wrote.


“An Australian head of state is a consequence of becoming a republic, not the reason for change.”

 Republicans, he says, can say what they will about the anachronism of monarchy. “But for more than 150 years the monarchy provided a powerful form of symbolism and served as an embodiment of our most cherished civic values,” he conceded.
 

The monarchy, he said,  was the central symbolic force in our Constitution and our public culture. And he admits that republicans have not found an argument for change of similar depth and purpose. He argues for other more radical reasons for a republic.

So why has he joined Professor Manne in abusing monarchists for holding an intellectually defensible position, consistent with a powerful and unanimous High Court opinion?   

As I said in the Quadrant article , “vulgarity is of course no substitute for scholarship and research.”

   

 

 
Head of State to open memorial park at Beersheba Print E-mail
Head of State
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Tuesday, 18 March 2008

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...Australian, Israeli Heads of State to open “The Park of the Australian Soldier” ...


The Governor-General, Major General Michael Jeffery, and Mrs Jeffery will travel to Israel at the invitation of the President of the State of Israel, His Excellency Mr Shimon Peres, in late April to represent the government and people of Australia at the 60th Anniversary of the State.

According to Government House, this historic visit is the first by an Australian Head of State.

The two Heads of State[i] will on 28 April join together to open The Park of the Australian Soldier in Be’er-Sheva, as Beersheba is known in Israel.

The Park features a landscaped recreational area and playground catering for children with disabilities. The central feature is a sculpture by the  Australian sculptor, Peter Corlett, commemorating the charge of the Australian Light Horse Division’s 4th Brigade against the Turkish positions at Beersheba on 31 October 1917.  

The Park is a wonderful initiative of the Pratt Foundation, whose benefactors are Richard and Jeanne Pratt. In this the Pratt Foundation, one of the largest and most generous private sources of philanthropy in Australia, is associated with the Beersheba Foundation.  

....Chauvel, Allenby and Bourchier at Beersheba ...


The charge of the 4th Light Horse was a major Australian military event and a significant chapter in our glorious past.[ii]

That glorious past is dominated very much by the great Sir Henry (“Harry”) Chauvel, the first Australian general to command an army corps, the Desert Mounted Corps. He reported to the British Field Marshal Allenby who planned to break the Turkish line of defence which came up from Beersheba, with its crucial water reserves, right to the Mediterranean.  Allenby rightly calculated that if he could break that line, it would open the way to Jerusalem and Damascus.   

Chauvel intended to take Beersheba with an infantry attack, but because of time constraints decided to make a cavalry charge. The choice lay between the Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade and the British 5th Mounted Brigade, a cavalry brigade. The commanding officers of both brigades were eager to make the attack, but Chauvel, with time running out, chose the Australians who were closer to the town. 

According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, the story that Chauvel launched the 4th Light Horse Brigade only as a last desperate throw after a “brusque” order from Allenby “does not sustain examination”.   Allenby's signal, which arose from misunderstanding an earlier message from Chauvel, was actually sent after the light horse had entered the town.

The 4th Light Horse Brigade, commanded by a distinguished soldier, Brigadier William Grant, was made up of three regiments, the 4th (Victorian), 11th (Queensland and South Australia) and 12th (New South Wales) Light Horse Regiments. The 4th and 12th were ready to make the charge under Lieutenant Colonel Bourchier, later Sir Murray William James Bourchier.


...the charge of the 4thLight Horse re-enacted....
 
Read more...
 
Head of State: diplomatic blunder. Print E-mail
Head of State
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Wednesday, 20 February 2008

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...Indonesia’s dictator decides who is our head of state....

Richard Woolcott, the former diplomat and passionate republican, “has probably spent more time over the past 40 years with Suharto than any other senior Australian official,”  says The Australian. The newspaper invited him to write on the former Indonesian dictator, President Suharto.  This appeared on 28 January, 2008, as “Suharto as I knew him.”

In the course of this piece, Mr. Woolcott says, without further comment:

“ Probably because of his army training, Suharto was somewhat hierarchical and conscious of status. For example, he declined, as head of state of Indonesia, to receive Sir Ninian Stephen ( pictured) when he wanted to visit Indonesia in 1986. Suharto acknowledged Queen Elizabeth II as Australia's head of state, not the governor-general. In Suharto's eyes, Sir Ninian was her representative.”

We cannot understand where General Suharto could have got this idea from.

The term head of state is diplomatic, and who is the head of state is determined by international law. According to international law, there could have been no doubt that Sir Ninian was head of state.


...only half the story...

Mr. Woolcott leaves the reader up in the air. This is only half the story.  

The reader would think that the Australian constitutional system causes us problems overseas. The very idea that a foreign dictator should instruct the people of this old democracy how to run our affairs, and who to send as head of state, is gross.

Sir Ninian’s visit was called off by the Hawke government after what was clearly an affront to our dignity and that of our head of state, and as the High Court has declared, the constitutional head of the Commonwealth of Australia.

And the Indonesian government soon apologised for their mistake.  
   

 

 
"Head of State will visit Antarctica.." Print E-mail
Head of State
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Sunday, 20 January 2008

.... Head of State will visit Antarctica...

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For the first time "the Head of State will visit Antarctica," according to AAP,  The Age and the Daily Telegraph of 17 January, 2008.

 The Governor-General, Major General Michael Jeffery, will make vice-regal history next week when he visits Antarctica.

According to AAP, Major-General Jeffery will use the new intercontinental air service between Hobart and the Antarctic to open the new Wilkins Runway near Casey Station. His Excellency is also expected to thank Australian scientists and other personnel for their contribution to the nation's heritage and scientific research.

...British transferred territories to Australia...

The visit next Tuesday precedes the 75th anniversary - on 7 February 2008 - of the declaration of the Australian Antarctic Territory, which accounts for 42 per cent of the continent.

A portion of the Territory, Victoria Land  was first  claimed by Great  Britain on 9 January 1841.  The  greater part of the territory was discovered and mapped by Sir Douglas Mawson, the Australian explorer, ( pictured) during his 1911-14 and 1929-31 expeditions.

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In 1933, a British imperial order transferred all of the British territory south of 60° S and between meridians 160 E and 45 E to Australia.  In 1947, the UK also transferred Heard Island and McDonald Islands to the Australian Antarctic Territory. On 13 February 1954 , Mawson Station was established as the first Australian station on the continent itself.

...Australian sovereignty...

The United Kingdom, New Zealand, France and Norway recognize Australian sovereignty, which Australia believes is only exercised in ways consistent with good relations under the Antarctic Treaty, 1959.  

Accordingly, Australia issues postage stamps for the Australian Antarctic Territory, which  is assigned the country telephonic calling code +672, with area codes for the different bases, Davis, 10-6,  Mawson, 11-7 ,  Casey 12-8 and  Macquarie Island, 13-9.

   
 
Head of State congratulates Sovereign Print E-mail
Head of State
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Thursday, 29 November 2007

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The Governor-General has congratulated The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh on Their Diamond Wedding Anniversary. His Excellency  sent the following message to Her Majesty and His Royal Highness on 20 November 2007:

 

“On behalf of the Australian people, it gives me great pleasure to congratulate Your Majesty and Your Royal Highness on sixty years of marriage.

 

Our nation has been delighted to have welcomed you to our shores on fifteen occasions and with each visit you have both won a special place in our hearts and minds with your keen interest in and affection for Australia.

 

In this Diamond anniversary year, it is fitting to look back over your remarkable journey together. Your mutual strength and leadership during times of extraordinary social and cultural change have been both an example and a source of stability to us all. You have also withstood public scrutiny and personal tragedy with dignity and grace.

 

Marlena and I, and the people of Australia, wish Your Majesty and Your Royal Highness continuing good health and happiness, and extend our sincere congratulations to you on this truly auspicious occasion.

  

(Michael Jeffery)”

In the meantime , Harold Schmauz of the Monarchist Alliance points out that while the German media in Australia are tiny in comparison with the Greek or the Italian newspapers and the German community in Australia is not known to be  staunchly Monarchists, their weekly "Die Woche in Australien" surprised him this week (issue no. 48, 27 Nov. 2007) with a whole page on the Diamond Wedding Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

 

“Contrary to Melbourne's daily newspaper The Age,” Mr. Schmauz says “which printed a quote of Prince Philip him comparing the French and the British breakfast as the only reference to the 60th anniversary of their wedding, "Die Woche" was serious and correct in their report and used three photos to illustrate the article. Well, done.” He suggests that those who wish to thank "Die Woche" for their report on the Queen and Prince Philip may  send them an e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

In the same issue Die Woche also published a long article on the 95th Birthday of Archduke Otto von Habsburg.  “A royal issue, indeed,” wrote Mr. Schmauz.

 

 
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