Head of State: 10th Anniversary Sky TV debate Part 4
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Thursday, 26 November 2009

On the 10th Anniversary of the republican referendum, 6 November 2009, Sky News (Australia) broadcast a debate on this issue.   In this fourth part, Thomas Flynn refers to the 1907 decision of the  High Court of Australia,  R v Governor of South Australia, where a bench of Founding Fathers unanimously  described the Governor General as  the Constitutional Head of the Commonwealth, the Governor of South Australia as the  Constitutional Head of State and The King as the Sovereign. 

ACM undertook careful and expert investigation of the relevant aspects of international and domestic law in the nineties, and came to the conclusion that the Governor-General is indeed Head of State. 


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[ Tony Abbott: no republican model as subtle, as sophisticated as our crowned republic ]


Then Senator Bob Brown argued that the powers of the Irish President are  similar to the Australian Governor General. They are not; and the Republican Advisory Committee set up in 1993 by PM Paul Keating and chaired by Malcolm Turnbull agreed. The difference lies in the reserve powers which in 1975 allowed the Governor-General to resolve a dispute between the two houses.

Senator Brown argued that the wrong model was put in 1999, and that the people would have approved a model involving the direct election of the president. Tony Abbott said this would result in a government with two heads. He condemned the “adolescent sloganeering “ the republicans.  He said no model the republicans advanced was a subtle and as sophisticated as our crowned republic. 

 

[In the debate Tony Abbott, ACM’s first executive director* and now a prominent parliamentarian joined the current ACM national executive director, Thomas Flynn against Greens leader Senator Bob Brown and chairman of the republican movement, Major-General Keating.  This is the third part of the debate.

* The original text said "executive secretary". Nick Hobson, who continues to play a major role in defending the constitution, was ACM's first company secretary. His site is Australian Republic Unplugged  ]