"HEAD OF STATE MEETS MONARCH"
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Monday, 08 March 2004

This was the headline in a page 2 headline in Brisbane's newspaper and Queensland's journal of record, The Courier Mail, in its edition on 5 March 2004. Underneath, we saw an excellent photograph of our Governor –General, Major –General Michael Jeffery and Mrs Jeffery with The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. We at ACM congratulate the editor of the Courier-Mail for so accurately capturing this historic occasion. CANBERRA REMEMBERS And in the meantime, an exhibition at the National Museum of Australia on the Queen's historic visit to Australia fifty years ago, was opened in Canberra by Sir David Smith, who has  established himself as one of the most knowledgeable writers on the role of the Crown in our Constitution. (Readers will recall that ACM celebrated the very day that The Queen arrived by a major function in Parliament House Sydney.) Unfortunately, but predictably, the opening of the exhibition in Canberra was greeted with little joy by Professor John Warhurst, who is the Chair of ACM. In his regular column in the Canberra Times, he put his own interpretation on the exhibition. So, as you might expect, I wrote to the editor of that newspaper on 7 March 2004 in these words:

 

Sir,

Australian Republican Movement Chair, Professor Warhurst, claims (5/3) that a majority of Australians want to replace The Queen with a president. He should not be so sure. The Herald Sun has just surveyed 28000 of its readers-most of who would come from the state, which came closest to saying Yes in the referendum. Fifty five per cent said No to a republic. Worse for the ARM-the NO vote was marginally higher among the young! Whatever the politicians he cites think, their opinions on this are probably as reflective of the views of the Australian people as they were in 1999. He also says the National Museum's presentation of the referendum was one sided. He is probably referring to the fact that his predecessor, Greg Barns, woke up, months later, to the fact that that the museum itself had chosen to exhibit a photograph of Kerry Jones, David Elliott and myself on the evening of 6 November 1999, taken just as the counting indicated that the nation and every state had voted No. When a journalist telephoned me about the fuss the ARM was making about this, I said: "Mr Barns shouldn't complain. In fact he ought to be pleased. Now he can say: Professor Flint is in a museum, which is precisely where he belongs! " 

Your Sincerely,
David Flint 

MALCOLM TURNBULL-A REPRIMAND In the meantime, I notice that Janet Albrechtsen, in her column in The Australian of 3 March 2004, takes me to task for spending several pages on Malcolm Turnbull in my book, Twilight of The Elites. In reply, Christopher Pearson, in the Weekend Australian, 7-8 March pointed out that a real conservative republican wishing to retain the Westminster system would have chosen the McGarvie model, not the First and even the more bizarre Second Keating-Turnbull Republic! Each of these was incompatible with the Westminster system, and would have destabilised our Constitution not withstanding the blanket endorsement of each one by a range of celebrities, including Mr Leo Schofield, Mr Phillip Adams, Mr Mike Carlton, etc., etc. Whatever Malcolm Turnbull political views are now, we assume that he has not yet converted from republicanism, however he is now on record as saying, on more than one occasion that a republic is unattainable during the present reign. Moreover, he says, a republic is not something to be pushed by politicians, that it should come from outside. We do hope that if he goes to Canberra, he tells his colleagues this.

 

HIS EXCELLENCY FORGET

And, speaking of converts, we must record some misgivings about recent developments in Hobart, recorded in The Mercury of 4 March 2004 (www. themercury.news.corn.au) We have previously warmly welcomed the conversion of Richard Butler on the road to Hobart, that is, his apparent conversion to our long established Australian constitutional system, including as it does that essential institution at.its centre the Crown. His conversion is of course well 'evidenced by his solemnly swearing the oath of allegiance to Her Majesty, and we would never seek to impugn his motives in taking the Oath. However we do remain of the view that being

Governor means accepting the generally accepted description of what the office involves and what the people of Tasmania clearly expect. First, as we said immediately he broadcast it, he should never-never- put words into his Sovereign's mouth. (See, on this site, our Media Release of 19 August, 2003 about the ABC's 730 Report on 18 August 2003 which broadcast Mr Butler's ill advised attribution to The Queen of words of which there is no reliable record that she ever uttered!) Nor should he think it appropriate to accept only those parts of the Governor's role that he believes suit him and reject those parts he believes are incompatible with some extraneous view of the office that he has imagined. We were surprised therefore by his refusal to take the role of Deputy Prior of The Order of St John. Every other Governor and Governor-General accepts their allotted role in this worthwhile endeavour. After all, it is not as if it were a debutantes' ball! We are speaking here of the salt of the earth. This is about the recognition, by the Governor, in an annual ceremony, the remarkable and unstinting work of all those many rank and file volunteers who give so much of their time for the well being of their fellow Tasmanians. As we have said this is normally done at a ceremony at Government House, Hobart. This year the investiture will be held in St David's Cathedral-but at least there will be a reception at Government House later. This is hardly appropriate. Mr Butler has also apparently already indicated that he should not be addressed as "Your Excellency". With respect, this title goes with the job-as it did when he represented Australia and our Sovereign as Ambassador. So does being Deputy Prior of the Order of St. John. The position of governor is not custom made-the community has certain expectations, and an incumbent should be careful not to push the envelope so far that the public becomes concerned or even outraged.

 

Reports of the decision of one leading organization not to seek his patronage should be sending warning. signals around Government House. The Governor of Tasmania should not forget that his duty is to the Crown, and therefore to the people of Tasmania, and not to some fanciful concept he may have imagined of the role and function of the Governor which has never been discussed, much less accepted by the people. While he may suggest that in his memoires, he should be careful, while he is Governor, not to irritate the people of Tasmania by applying these musings about what he thinks the office should be, rather than what it actually is.