The senator and the "last" Governor-General
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Sunday, 10 June 2001

Surely it was all settled in 1999. Notwithstanding all the money, resources and propaganda that the new establishment used to browbeat the people – Australians clearly prefer their constitution to the alternative.

 And that was the best – and second model – that all the talent brains and money of the Australian Republican Movement could produce. They had a decade, and they had millions and millions of your – not their – money. But you can’t keep a good republican down. 

 Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, the Democrats new national leader, filed an opinion piece for Australian Financial Review, on 26 April 2001. It was provocatively headed “The Last Governor-General does not speak for contemporary Australia."

 The Financial Review published my letter in reply on 27 April. 26 April 2001:

"Sir,  

It must be galling for Senator Stott-Despoja (Australian Financial Review 26/4) that Australians overwhelmingly rejected the republic. Clearly for two reasons. The model for which she so vigorously campaigned had serious defects. In fact, she enumerated them in her powerful ten-page dissent to the parliamentary report on the Referendum Bill!

The other reason was, people couldn't see the need for change. Or as Malcolm Turnbull wrote in his diary, four months before the vote "we have Buckley's" chance of winning - nobody is interested.

When the Senator launched a Law Foundation paper on the referendum on 9 June 1999 at Government House Sydney, she startled the audience by asking why Australia had not become a republic?

After all, said the Senator, Canada had!

The Senator is equally misinformed in her belief that the Governor-General is responsible to the Queen of England. Not so much that there hasn't been a Queen of England for about three centuries!

The point is the Governor-General was not appointed by the Queen of the United Kingdom. He was appointed by The Queen of Australia.

This is a distinction of such importance that the High Court removed another Senator for not understanding this and not renouncing her allegiance to the Queen of the United Kingdom.

 In any event, having appointed the Governor General, The Queen cannot reverse any of his decisions, as was famously pointed out by the Palace in 1975. The point is that no one has yet devised any other system other than Australia's (and Canada's) which consistently ensures we have Heads of State above politics.

Yours etc,

David Flint "

 

The Senator has since maintained a discreet silence on the question of a republic.