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ACM Home arrow Latest News and Opinions arrow Our Australian Head of State

Our Australian Head of State Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Saturday, 03 November 2001

4 November, 2001

The sole strategy of republicans is to call for an Australian Head of State. If it can be shown that we already have one in our Governor-General, their whole strategy is destroyed.

It also destroys the need for the ALP/Australian Republican Movement's proposed
non-binding, costly and irresponsible, plebiscite 'to establish support for an Australian Head of State". Especially as it lacks any model to replace our existing Constitution.

Here are the facts:

1. Fifteen editions of the Commonwealth Government Directory - The Official Guide, from August 1992 to March 1997, described the Governor-General's function
officially thus: 'He is the Head of State".

2. No valid reason for its seemingly unauthorised removal on 16
December  1996 by Deputy Official Secretary Carol Summerhayes has been
produced.

3. The publication to which we were referred by republican Professor
George Winterton, the respected Constitutional expert and appointed
delegate to the 1998 Constitutional Convention,: - From 'The Blackwell
Encyclopedia of Political Institutions' the world authority on these
matters by Vernon Bogdanor from  Oxford offers the following: -

a. 'According to the WESTMINSTER MODEL, the HEAD OF STATE appoints the
party leader most capable of securing the confidence of parliament.'
(p.269)

Comment: In Australia, our Governor-General appoints the party leader (the
Prime Minister). The Queen, not being Head of State has no such function.

b. The Head of State, usually a MONARCH or president, is the person to whom foreign envoys present their credentials.' (p.270)

Comment: In Australia's case such credentials are always presented to our Australian Governor-General - our Australian Head of State, not to a 'Monarch or President'.

c. 'In federal parliamentary systems there may be state governors (as in Australia and India) or provincial lieutenant-governors (as in Canada) who also act in normal times as formal Heads of State.' (p.271)

Comment: So it is unchallengeable that: (I) our Australian Head of State is the Governor-General, and (ii) that our State Governors are also Heads of their own
State. This was further confirmed by NSW Premier, Mr Bob Carr, in a speech to
Parliament farewelling Governor Samuels when he said 'the Governor is the Head
of State in NSW' (NSW Hansard 28 February 2001 page 12026). Therefore logically
it is unarguable that all State Governors are Head of State in their own State.

4. The Concise Encyclopedia of Australia says 'The Governor General…is the Head
of State'.


5. Sir David Smith, a person of unequalled experience in this matter, provides 'incontrovertible evidence of the fact that we have an Australian Head of State
and that it is the Governor-General.'


6. That the Hon. Richard McGarvie, former Justice of the Victorian Supreme Court, former Governor of Victoria and a senior appointee to the 1998 ConCon in
Canberra describes the Governor-General as 'the operative Head of State'.

7. That, when representing Australia abroad, our Governor-General always
travels as, and is accepted as, Head of State. This is always as is expected by our
Government.

8. Even ARM Chair Greg Barns, in The Australian 10 April 2001, agrees the
Governor-General is our Head of State - 6 times!
 
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