Republicans Fail to Understand Australia’s Constitutional System.

Republicans Fail to Understand Australia’s Constitutional System.

Republicans Fail to Understand Australia’s Constitutional System.
5/6/2020

It really is amazing how, after 30 years of constitutional debate, republicans still do not understand the Australian system of governance with the monarch as sovereign head of state and the Prime Minister as head of government. They continue to view us as some relic of colonial days whereas we are long past British domination and are, today, a modern free and independent nation which chooses to be a constitutional monarchy under the (Australian) Crown.

The access to what is called the Dismissal Papers, being mainly correspondence between the Queen and the then Governor-General has given rise to all sorts of conspiracy theories in regard to the Queen’s involvement in the dismissal.

Throughout her entire reign, the Queen has always behaved as a constitutional monarch should behave.  As Queen of Australia she not only has a right to be notified of what is happening within her government but a duty to be informed and to advise.

She is not merely a ceremonial monarch, but an active constitutional monarch, not on behalf of the British Crown, as republicans say, but as Queen of Australia, an entity recognised by Whitlam himself in his Royal Style & Titles Act 1973. 

Being an active constitutional monarch is not the Queen’s personal choice but a requirement under our Australian constitutional arrangements. Of course, upon appointment, the Governor-General assumes that active status as the representative of the Queen but nevertheless the Queen, as Queen of Australia, should always be informed, even as a matter of courtesy.

However, let me be clear, that requirement to inform does in the way not mean interference in the political system of this country as republicans would have us believe.

The Governor-General has a right to seek advice on any matter whether from the law officers of this nation or from the palace itself.  However, the decision Sir John Kerr took to dismiss the government (and arrange for an immediate election) was not by use of Crown/ Reserve powers but under section 64 of the Australian Constitution which authorises a Governor-General to appoint and dismiss a government: “The Governor-General may appoint officers to administer such departments of State of the Commonwealth as the Governor-General in Council may establish. Such officers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor-General.”

The fact is, whether republicans like it or not, we have a Constitution established under the Crown and until the people decide otherwise this is our system of governance.  A system that works very well and has stood the test of time against all sorts of political intransigence.

Whatever the circumstances leading up to the election of December 1975, the fact is the political crisis brought on by the Senate blocking supply was resolved by a vote of the people.  That is our system where the people must always be in control and the job of the Queen and her representative the Governor-General is to ensure that that is always the case.

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