Summit fails first test
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Saturday, 29 March 2008

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When Mark Day objected to News Limited’s chief executive John Hartigan chairing the 2020 Summit panel on the “Future of Australian Governance” with former ABC TV presenter, Maxine McKew MP, he let the cat out of the bag.

The panel, he revealed, will be presenting its views on changing Australia into some sort of republic.

Apart from the politicians, the names of that panel have now been released.

It is no surprise that a number of very prominent republicans are included. We can only identify one person who has spoken out as a constitutional monarchist.


...unfortunate precedent for summit...


This is at least an advance on the conference hosted by Summit co-chair Professor Glyn Davis when he was vice chancellor of Griffith University. We referred to this conference  in this column on 20 March, 2007.

That was the “Australian Constitutional Futures Conference”   to restart and broaden the debate about “the” republic and the constitutional framework “we” need for the 21st century. 
 Although this conference was hosted by a taxpayer funded university, no one who was not a committed republican was invited to speak. Davis gave a paper on republicanism rising again.

As we mentioned, the conference papers are no longer accessible on the Griffith University site.  No wonder.

 One speaker ( Greg Barns) referred to the monarchy as “rancid” and “corrupt,” “a menace to democracy” with “ a cavalier disregard for liberal values,”  a  ” corrupt institution ... prepared to subvert the rule of law... and allow criminal activity to go unchecked within its walls.”  The monarchy, he said, has “little interest in anything other than self-preservation and that it will ride roughshod over the rule of law, if necessary, to achieve that aim.” 

No one was invited to present the view which after all prevailed in 1999. Against a mainly biased media, the No case won nationally, in every state and 72% of electorates.

The Summit appears to be following the precedent set at Griffith University.


...not the Australian way...


Many of the names on the panel are unknown to us. We assume that most will have only a general understanding of the constitutional issues. It is inconceivable then that the large number of prominent republicans who are on the panel, together with the politicians, will not have their way.  

Not to have added a balancing  number of those who have some sort of record in arguing for the retention of our existing constitution is not the Australian way.

The Summit has failed the first test.

We suggested in our column that the final communiqué on the issue of a republic could be written in advance.

We remain of this view.