|Defend Our Freedom|
|Written by Lloyd Waddy RFD QC|
|Sunday, 20 August 2000|
Australians for Constitutional Monarchy oppose any attempt to remove the Crown from our Constitution.
In the unique Australian Federal model of the Westminster system, the whole balance of power depends upon the theory and practice of the power to govern (the executive power) being in the hands of someone non-political and not a partisan politician of any party. One of the chief benefits is in fact that this denies ultimate power to party politicians, who make up the 'Ministry'. The Crown always acts on the advice of a 'Minister' (or 'servant of the Crown') who takes the political responsibility for all actions of government.
In Australia we have a better system than in the UK. When our constitution was adopted in 1900 by popular vote of the people in each State, while the powers were 'vested' in the Queen, they were all to be exercised (only) by the Governor-General as the Queen's representative. (It is similar in each State.)
The Governor-General's powers are vast and include the powers of Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Navy and Air Force as the Queen's representative, the power to call Parliament together, to dismiss Parliament and to appoint anyone as a Minister of State, so long as they get into Parliament within three months.
These powers are all politically neutral while held by a Crown above politics and exercised on its behalf by the Governor-General as the Queen's representative. The personality of the Monarch is constitutionally irrelevant. A child can be Sovereign with a Council of Regency. That the Queen is so respected and loved is a bonus. Her only personal duty is to appoint or dismiss a Governor-General acting on the advice of the Prime Minister of the day.
The balance of power, or brake on the Governor-General using his powers wrongly, is that he is only a representative, is not elected by anyone (and thus has no mandate) and can be removed immediately by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister.
The Governor-General has real powers, seldom used but essential to ensure that the advice he gets is legal and that the Ministry not only controls the House of Representatives but can get 'supply' or the money to run the Government from the whole Parliament.
The Governor-General is the impartial umpire who blows the whistle when needed and keeps the game of government honest and in accordance with the Constitution.
There is no 'minimalist' change possible to the Constitution. Of course Australians could devise a safe Constitution (like the USA) if we started from nothing. But republics can be very fragile - the French are on their fifth already.
The 'minimalist' change to a republic means that a President given the Governor-General's powers would alter the balance of power dramatically. From being an umpire he or she would have the powers of a dictator not as a representative but in his or her own right.
If elected by anyone, the Governor-General would have a mandate - if by popular election, of more than half the voters - millions more votes than any Prime Minister. If elected by two thirds of the Parliament, the mandate would be even greater.
The new President would then have a mandate, personal power, no one to remove him or her and be able to dismiss Parliament, command the armed forces and favour his or her own party at will. Such people are often called dictators.
Barry Jones, former President of the ALP, Professor Donald Horne of the Australian Republican Movement and we of the Australians for Constitutional Monarchy all hold this a huge risk not even to be contemplated.
But if not the new President, who would command the armed forces? Who would be impartial and blow the whistle? Who would call and dismiss Parliament? Who would appoint and dismiss the Ministers? Why not keep the present impartial system? Why give more power to the Prime Minister and the party politicians?
Our system is not safely capable of minimal change to a republic and major change immediately shifts the balance of power to make the Prime Minister even more powerful or to make the President too powerful.
Our system is safe and stable, and has been evolved by us for over 90 years. To change it because the Queen (who does not personally exercise any day to day power) lives in England and is Queen of Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom as well is to risk all our freedoms for an allegedly cosmetic 'minimalist' change.
Makes you wonder, doesn't it, who is making the grab for power? Whoever it is, it is certainly not the Queen or her representatives.
Do you want to give more power to politicians and create the ultimate job for the boys and girls? We urge you to say NO! to a republic and defend our excellent Australian Constitution!
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