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ACM Home arrow Keating-Turnbull Republic: The Nineties arrow The Tippex Republic: Even Turnbull wouldn’t touch it

The Tippex Republic: Even Turnbull wouldn’t touch it Print E-mail
Written by Thomas Flynn   
Wednesday, 27 January 2010

A while ago a republican emailed ACM to say becoming a republic is easy. All we need to do is go through the constitution and cross out Queen and write President and then add a section to say how the President is to be selected.

 

This republican got pretty angry when I replied to point out his favoured “tippex republic” was rejected by republicans themselves.

 

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[Malcolm invites you to vote for their republic]

In 1993 Malcolm Turnbull was appointed by Prime Minister Paul Keating to chair a committee (consisting entirely of republicans) to propose how to achieve a Federal Republic of Australia. This Republic Advisory Committee had to consider the present powers of the Australian crown in particular the reserve powers. These are the powers that relate to the granting of elections and the appointment and dismissal of ministers. The trouble is that the use of these powers – which in theory are extraordinarily wide ranging – are governed by conventions which have evolved because the crown exercises them. Remove the crown and there is no reason for supposing that these conventions restraining the exercise of the powers survive. A President could have very autocratic powers.

 

The committee considered a number of options of codifying the reserve powers. However this committee – consisting entirely of republicans who might be expected to favour the easiest route to the republican wonderland – refused even to consider the possibility of the tippex model.

 

It is worth quoting the text in full. Many casual republicans (particularly RWMs) think that it is easy to abolish the monarchy. In reply, you can always quote this at them (emphasis added). The beauty of this is that it is republicans who are rejecting the tippex republic:

 

 

Conclusion

 

The Committee is not required to recommend an approach for dealing with the constitutional powers of a new head of state.  On the assumption that the head of state would play essentially the same role in the system of government as the Governor-General does at present, this Chapter has identified a number of appropriate options.

 

The Committee has not considered in any detail the possibility of leaving the provisions conferring powers on the head of state in their present very broad terms, saying nothing about the constitutional conventions and assuming that they would continue to apply, because it does not regard that as a viable option.  Such an approach would lead many people to fear (perhaps justifiably) that the conventions, which grew up around monarchical powers, would not apply in a republic and that as a result, the new head of state would have potentially autocratic powers.

 

Some provision should therefore be made in relation to the exercise of the head of state’s powers.  Whether that provision is to be an express incorporation of the existing conventions, or some form of codification of the rules which currently depend on convention, it is clearly possible to define the powers of a new head of state in a way that preserves the essential elements of Australian democracy and maintains the present balance between the Government and the head of state.

 

An Australian Republic

The Options – The Report

The report of the Republic Advisory Committee

Volume 1, Chapter 6, page 116, “The Powers of a new head of state”

 
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