Republic : Dwindling Support
John Howard blocked it and the idea stalled long enough for cracks to open in the pro-Republic ranks. People who favored a directly-elected head of state voted down the referendum, rather in the spirit of the Green Party voting down Kevin Rudd’s ETS – there’ll always be another chance, delay action until we get perfection.
Well, 12 years on there’s no republic on the horizon, 18 months on there’s no guarantee of carbon pricing. The search for perfection is the enemy of action.
Forget the the flip notion that when the Queen retires or dies the public will move across. When that day comes there will be a tide of nostalgia for her reign and a raft of publicity for Charles and Camilla followed by a fabulous coronation. If you are half inclined to accept a constitutional monarchy as Australians seem to be ( today’s poll in The Australian puts support for a republic at it’s lowest in 17 years ) then Charles would hardly be abhorrent. He has enlightened views on environment and multiculturalism. His spoilt princelings are another thing.
A Republic needs two conditions to succeed. One, a minimalist proposition to go to a referendum. The one I favor is the simple notion that the Governor-General should be Australia’s head of state. Second,you would need the Coalition to support the proposition. There will only be a majority if these conditions are met.
As of now it is a distant prospect and the royalist propaganda – from The King’s Speech to this week’s nuptials – is carrying all before it.
I will expand on this on Q and A on Thursday night. But yes, I am opposed to a popularly-elected presidency and I will tell you why.
We have a Westminster or parliamentary system of government. Call it a prime ministerial system. It works well. Government is formed by the party leader who can claim a majority in the House of Representatives. For God’s sake, graft onto that an elected president ? With his own conflicting mandate and alternative set of policies ? That’s a hybrid and a pretty horrible one.
And don’t say he will not have power. If he is elected, he claims it. An elected presidency becomes an executive presidency, overnight or by degrees. If nothing else he asserts it just by going on TV and attacking the Prime Minister. We would have a bifurcated source of power in our constitution : president versus prime minister. On top of a powerful Senate and the remnant powers of the states and territories. Close to ungovernable.
My alternative : a simple tweaking of the constitution to say the Governor General and not the British monarch is Australia’s head of state and have the GG elected by the parliament.
But it is not a priority for the Australian people and they seem as relaxed as the Canadians about living under the present anomaly.