The simplistic slogan of the republicans that we must “move on”, forced the staging of a constitutional convention in 1998 and a referendum in 1999.
Unfortunately that $93 million waste of everybody’s time was not the end of it. The republicans still have a problem which they are desperately attempting to make us feel is also our problem. The following claims look reasonable - until one gives some thought to them:
By having a foreign head of state, this country is not standing on its own two feet.
We are certainly not standing on our own two feet - but it has nothing to do our head of state living in London and everything to do with our crawling to the USA.
Under the 1986 Australia Act, the Queen has only one constitutional power; she can reject the Prime Minister's recommendation for the position of Governor-General. As she would never reject that recommendation, the Governor-General is our head of state in all but name.
A non-executive or ceremonial president is what we would be getting if we become a republic. The constitution can only be tinkered with. Since 1901, all government and legal activity has been setting the constitution firmly in place: it can no more be changed at a fundamental level than can the framework in a completed house.
The average voter does not understand that all the fuss is about our obligation to have the Queen’s signature on a piece of paper once every five years.
We could have another 1975-type crisis.
There was no crisis. There was no blood in the streets. Life went on as normal. What we should be really worried about is the manipulation of the public mood by media moguls who set out to change an elected government.
The history is that when a Queensland senate position was left vacant by a deceased Labor senator the morally-confused Jo Bjelke-Petersen did not replace him with a Labor Party nominee. Instead the replacement was a poorly educated independent who swore revenge after Gough Whitlam made a slur against the Bible.
The opposition in the senate now had the numbers to block supply. But, public support was needed - and this was provided by the Packer and Murdoch press. They had, over a period of some months, been conditioning the collective consciousness of their readership to believe that the Whitlam government was not fit to manage a chook yard.
With supply blocked, government could not govern. John Kerr (using his reserve powers) then called for a general election - thus denying the government its right to choose the optimum date which would favour its re-election. A non-executive president would have done exactly the same thing at the time.
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