I have avoided the public eye, first by illness and then by choice, since contributing the Chapter on Land for the Bi-Centennial Book on Canberra in 1988. However, the ramifications of awards and statements made on Australia Day 26 January 2016 makes it imperative that someone injects a spark of sanity and history into the "Republican Debate".
I have called this statement Testament 82 because I am spending my 82nd birthday writing this message and it may well be my last contribution to this long running and ill-informed debate.
Speeches and statements made by the newly appointed Australian of the Year Mr David Morrison and the new Chairman of the Australian Republican Movement Mr Peter Fitzsimon make it imperative that their rhetoric is tempered with facts and their appeal to emotionalism tempered with some basis for intelligent thought and discussion.
ARM and a Republic
The ARM website "argues that Australia should replace the Monarch and Governor-General to become a republic with a head of state who is an Australian citizen and resident." This simple statement covers a complex change for which they have no roadmap or explanation and they make little attempt to focus on one. A statement which totally ignores the necessary Constitutional changes and the difficulties that presents.
From the above, these terms appear important: Australia, Monarch, Governor General, Republic, Head of State (which they do not even Capitalise), Australian Citizen and Australian Resident. Seven important unexplained terms in a three-line motherhood statement. Seven terms on which few members of the Australian Republican Movement would find total agreement.
The existing Federation and Constitution took about 50 years to find agreement. Many of the delegates and negotiators were Republicans well versed in the American Constitution. Even then they could not agree on Citizenship and it was more than another 48 years before our citizenship moved from being British Subjects to being Australian Citizens.
Nearly 100 years after Federation we had a referendum on a Republic. The ARM made the following comment on that 1999 referendum
"Although opinion polls appeared to show that many Australians favoured becoming a republic, divisions emerged in the Movement between those who favoured indirect election of the Presidentby Parliament, and those who favoured direct election by the people. This led to Australian voters rejecting at a referendum in 1999 a constitutional amendment to a specific form of republic described by some as the "minimalist" model because it involved the least change to the constitution of the various republican models proposed." [I believe they underestimated or ignored the changes required in every model, js]
Relying on Wikipedia "The Australian Constitutional Convention 1998 debated the need for a change to the Constitution of Australia which would remove the monarchy from a role in Australian government and law. The convention considered three categories of model for an Australian republic: "direct election, parliamentary election by a special majority, and appointment by a special council following prime ministerial nomination." The three methods were:
1. direct election,
2. parliamentary election by a special majority, and
Discuss in our Forums
See what other readers are saying about this article!
Click here to read & post comments.
8 posts so far.