Conventions and plebiscites
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Tuesday, 08 May 2007
The Sydney Morning Herald 10-11 March, 2007 argues that the framers of our Constitution, one of the few to be successful over time, had failed to provide a legal structure that matches the demands of the real world.  The Herald concedes that the “problems” it cites are all the fault of politicians.  But, it says, the fault lies with the politicians only “in the first instance…Fundamentally our constitution is to blame, and that means the problems are the fault of all Australians.”  Seeming unaware of, or more likely, unwilling to mention the role of the High Court in the centralizing process, the editor admits to that ultimate preference of all republican centralists, the abolition of the states.  Conceding that the electorate would never accept abolition, he says the states should at least be “reformed.” (”If they cannot be abolished, the states must be reformed.”)

 

 

This “reform” is to be in accordance with the republican centralist’s agenda to “slim” our government system from three tiers to two.  Since the people won’t allow this, the Herald thinks the answer is to abolish local government.  Then they will “regig”  the states to be the providers of services.  “Policy would be set at the federal level.” Some “reform.”  Outside of the People’s Republic model which the Stalinists in the  Communist Party wanted to impose on us , this is one of the most centralist-and dangerous models of government to be proclaimed in recent years.  All power, all decision making will be concentrated in Canberra and that check on the politicians, the Crown, would of course be abolished.  While the people still have a say, even with the blatant media manipulation which is too prevalent today, this will never be implemented.

 

 

What may occur is something Herald proposes as the first step in such a process – “a constitutional convention to work out a proper division of powers.”  

 

 

The calling of a convention has already been raised by some of the politicians.  The South Australian Premier, Mike Rann, says the Premiers want a constitutional convention held in February next year, 2008.  He said that the Commonwealth had eroded state rights.  According to a report on the ABC, on 9 February, 2007 Mr. Rann continued: "That's of course 10 years on from the Republic convention, but of course what we wanted to do is  [to assess] how we can make federalism work better for Australians in the national interest."

 

 

 

 Mr. Rann was attending a meeting of the eight Premiers and Chief Ministers in Sydney on 9 February 2007. This followed a meeting the day before with the Prime Minister John Howard, at which they failed to reach agreement on handing over control of the country's largest inland river system, the Murray Darling.

 

 

 If there is to be a convention after the 2007 election, the important questions will be first, who will choose it, and secondly, what will be its terms of reference.  What the nation does not need, nor can it afford in money or in distraction from the important issues, is yet another taxpayer funded talkfest for the republicans work out, what they actually want.  We have had three of those so far, and a landslide rejection by the people of the best republican model they could come up with, the one which the media, including the Herald, and most of the politicians, told them to accept.

 

 

In the meantime, the Queensland Premier has reneged on a promise to hold a plebiscite, not on the republic, but on recycled water. According to the ABC, on 28 March, 2007, the Queensland Government had promised south-east Queenslanders a say on drinking recycled water, and was prepared to spend $10 million on a vote in March.  In canceling the plebiscite,Mr. Beattie said that the drought is so bad that there is no other choice. He said the new water grid for recycled water is expected to be ready in late 2008.

 

 

"It just seems pointless to proceed with a plebiscite on March 17," he said. "So we've decided to cancel the polls, so there'll be no vote.I apologise to the people of South East Queensland for breaking a commitment, but that was in less serious circumstances."