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ACM Home arrow Convenor's Column arrow Head of State : republicans try to revive failed debate

Head of State : republicans try to revive failed debate Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
Image“Alison Broinowski (Letters 9/7) has misrepresented what David Flint said about the constitutional role of the governor-general,” Australia’s leading authority on the vice-regal office, Sir David Smith says.
In a letter published in The Australian on 19 July 2007, he continued:”The governor-general is Australia’s head of state at all times, both at home and abroad, and she will find the evidence in my book Head of State (Macleay Press, 2005) which was launched by former governor-general Bill Hayden.
“The governor-general is both the Queen’s representative and head of state - two separate roles conferred on him by different sections of the Constitution. Broinowski should read beyond Section 2 of the Constitution, which is where most republicans generally stop reading, and make a special effort to get through to Section 61.”
In response, Greg Humphries from Townsville, Queensland replied in a letter published in The Australian on 11 November, 2007:
“I have, at the suggestion of David Smith, made my way to section 61 of the Constitution (Letters, 10/7). It tells me that “the executive power of the commonwealth is vested in the Queen and is exercisable by the governor-general as the Queen’s representative’’.
”Why are monarchists such as Smith and David Flint intent on denying that the Queen is our head of state? If we are a monarchy it must logically follow that our head of state is our monarch, even if she insists on delegating her powers to her colonial representative.”
Sir David immediately sent this reply to The Australian:
“No, Greg Humphries (Letters, 11/7) the Queen has not delegated her head of state powers to the Governor-General. They were given to him by the Australian people, in the Constitution, in 1901. The Governor-General exercises these powers in his own right and not as a delegate, and the Hawke Government’s Constitutional Commission said so in 1988. The Crown has delegated its head of state powers to the Governors-General of Canada (in 1947) and New Zealand (in 1983) but no such delegation has ever been necessary for the Governor-General of Australia.
“We have a unique Constitution, under which the Queen is our Monarch and the Governor-General is our head of state. Republicans are perfectly entitled to argue for constitutional change, but they have no right to misrepresent our present Constitution in the process. Now that Greg Humphries has read section 61of the Constitution, I suggest that he reads Head of State, where he will find all the evidence.”
“This argument was settled, as far as the people are concerned, in 1999. The reason the republicans are trying to revive it has much to do with the fact that they are now incapable of saying what they want.
  
 
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