Saturday, May 10, 2003

Monarchists hoist on their own petard
'The solution is an Australian republic in which our head of state is chosen by a democratic process that would expose candidates for the job to proper public scrutiny. If the Federal Opposition had any guts it would seize the moment to shout this from the rooftops. It is, after all, ALP policy. But when I suggested as much to Simon Crean on radio on Wednesday he flipped and flapped like a bogong moth at a candle flame. Still nothing doing there, then.'

The office is largely symbolic and the public would not I believe like to have to have another vote especially when it is without real meaning. The term Governor-General should I think be preserved. It will go down easier with monarchists, and in itself it is not a monarchical or aristocratical term such as King, Queen, Princess, Count etc - the term can as well find a place in a republican consitution as a monarchical one.

The concept of a 'personal appointment' of the GG by the PM is clearly wrong. I even suspect that a PM, such as Howard in this case and perhaps even Whitlam earlier, should not want the lottery of responsibility for the appointment.

Why not the simplest possible constitutional alteration so that the G-G is appointed and removed by a simple majority of the parliament, perhaps a joint sitting? Parliament must meet every so often and the G-G can only take decisions in 'executive council', so genuine authority remains with the parliament and cabinet: it is not likely the G-G would effect a takeover of the executive or act arbitrarily. If he did in a way that parliament found unacceptable it would be disruptive but he could be dealt with. But if he is directly elected then such complications are more likely. We would not like the American system, where power continues to accumulate in the Presidency, which is virtually now an elective military monarchy, with Congress increasingly marginalised. To prevent this and to assure the strength of representative parliamentary democracy, both the head of state and the head of government should be appointed by the parliament.

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