(Cairns... Far North Queensland)
AUSTRALIAN REPUBLIC REFERENDUM
Referendum Voting Day: ???
Still being debated by republican proponents... AGAIN!!!
Proponents of a republic make the claim that all that is involved is a change from the Queen of Australia to a president. This claim is WRONG. The proposed changes would have a profound effect upon the structure of Government and have the potential to focus POWER in the hands of the elites and away from ordinary Australians to an even greater extent than it is now.
Some of these changes may be subtle and the ultimate alterations may only be revealed after a series of incremental changes to the way the Government functions. Others are obvious and are revealed in the words of the proposed changes themselves. One of these is the process of the appointment of a president.
The appointment of a president pursuant to Section 60 of the proposed Constitution requires a two-thirds majority of the total number of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives. With an increasing number of Independents and the development of minor parties, there can be NO certainty that on any occasion when a president is to be appointed that the current two party system would be able to acquire the proposed two thirds majority.
A nomination committee takes up the proposed process in the selection of a presidential candidate. The nomination committee is to consist of nine Liberal/National politicians, six Labor politicians, one Democrat politician and sixteen delegates hand picked by the Prime Minister.
Now how's that for a democratic process in just the selection of a presidential candidate.
And if you believe that the make-up of the nomination committee will continue after a Labor government is elected, you must also believe in the tooth fairy.
In other words, the SAME process would occur with both the selection of a president, as is now the case with the Governor-General; it's at the discretion of the Prime Minister of the day.
It is crystal clear, that the proposed president would undoubtedly be manipulated by the two-party system, should he/she wish to maintain a continuity of employment.
On the other hand, the duties of the Governor-General are of various kinds. Some are laid on him by the Australian Constitution, some by the Letters patent and his/her Commission. Others are placed on him/her by Acts of the Commonwealth Parliament. Others come to him/her by conventions established in past centuries in Great Britain or by practices and customs that have been developed in Australia.
ALL of these duties have a common characteristic.
The Governor-General is NOT placed in a position where he/she can run the Parliament, run the Courts or run any of the instruments of Government; but he/she occupies a position where he/she can help ensure that those who conduct the affairs of the nation do so STRICTLY in accordance with the Australian Constitution and the laws of the Commonwealth and with due regard to the public interest.
So long as the Crown has the powers which our Constitution now gives to it, and so long as the Governor-General exercises them, Parliament will work in the way the Constitution requires, the Executive will remain responsible to Parliament, the Courts will be independent, the public service will serve the Nation within the limits of the law and the Armed Services will be subject to civil authority.
In simple terms, a president would be answerable to the party politicians whereas the Australian Governor-General is ONLY answerable to the Australian PEOPLE.
Think on these things before you vote!
We already have an AUSTRALIAN "Head of State"!
The duties of the "Head of State" of the proposed republic would be to appoint Ministers of State including the Prime Minister, and to chair the Federal Executive Council.
But these are exactly the duties of the present Governor-General!
We do not call him the "Head of State" because that is a republican term.
The Queen has no power or duties in Australia - even when she is present in Australia - except to appoint and dismiss the Governor-General.
Although the Queen appoints the Governor-General he is selected by the Prime Minister and is therefore always an Australian.
We therefore already have an Australian who carries out all the functions and duties of "Head of State".
The Governor-General... The Umpire
One of the duties of the Governor-General is to ensure the government obeys the Constitution.
The Constitution requires that all money for government business must be raised with the authority of Parliament. Whitlam was raising a $4 billion loan from Russia without that authority.
The story is told in the book: "The Anatomy of a Coup", researched and written by two Melbourne Age reporters. It tells how this money was to be laundered through the Middle East with huge rake offs on the way.
The Governor-General dismissed Whitlam but did not retain the power but gave the people the choice at a new election. In the last analysis it was the people who dismissed Whitlam at the ballot box.
Under the Constitution (S58) the Governor-General has discretion to sign a new law or not to sign it or to send it back to Parliament for amendment.
This discretion relates to the Oaths the Queen took at her Coronation in 1953. Under these she undertook to rule justly, mercifully and in accordance with the Law of God as in the Bible.
The implications of the public acknowledgment of Almighty God as Sovereign are our best protection against tyranny. In particular it implies that government is under the law and is limited in what law it can make.
This discretion would be lost in the proposed republic where the President would be required to do just what he is told by the Prime Minister.
Dismissal of the Governor-General
At present the Prime Minister cannot dismiss the Governor-General - He can only ask the Queen to dismiss him. The claim is made that if Whitlam had asked the Queen to dismiss Sir John Kerr she would have had to do so immediately.
This is an untried, unwarranted assumption. It has never happened in Australia. It has however in Canada.
In Canada, I understand, the Prime Minister did once ask the Queen to dismiss the Governor-General. the Queen pointed out that if she did there would be a Constitutional crisis - as there would have been in Australia. It would have left the nation with a government who could not get supply in Parliament but with no mechanism to dismiss the government and resolve the crisis with fresh elections.
In the situation in Canada the Queen consulted with the Prime Minister and with the Governor-General and arranged an orderly hand over to a new Governor-General as the old one resigned.
Selection of a President
In the proposed republic there would be a committee appointed by the Prime Minister to whom anyone may make nominations for President.
However the Prime Minister may select anyone he likes. It does not need to be anyone nominated. The leader of the Opposition must second the nomination and 2/3 of a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament must agree to the nomination.
But there is nothing to stop the Governor-General being selected in this way if we wished!
Prime Minister - a Dictator
The most significant thing is that the Prime Minister may dismiss the President at any time without giving a reason. This has only to be ratified by a simple majority in the House of Representatives. But even if they do not ratify it the President remains sacked!
This is like giving the captain of the winning team in a game of football the power to dismiss the umpire at any time!
The effect of this would be to make the President (the umpire) a lackey of the Prime Minister.
What decent umpire (or president) would take on the job under those terms!
On the front page of the Australian of 11th March this year, Professor Geoffrey Blainey warned that a republic means dictatorship. He said: "Hitler rode through the constitution. He became both prime minister and president. Does our new Constitution prevent this? I doubt it."
We are already independent of Britain
Sir David Smith, secretary to five Governor-Generals, makes it very clear that Australia could not be more independent of United Kingdom than we are now. He is a man in the best position to know.
The Queen was crowned Queen of Australia just as much as she was of U.K., Canada and New Zealand. She fulfils these different roles just as one person may be a director of several different companies without it making one company in any way subservient to another.
It does not in any way put us under the U.K.
What is behind the push for a republic?
It is interesting that the man at the forefront of the push for a republic is Malcolm Turnbull. Mr Turnbull is the local director of Goldman Sachs, one of the largest international banks, whose business is to arrange the take over by foreign and multinational corporations of Australian businesses. It makes the call for "independence" rather hollow!
Such people have stated they want a "Corporate Head". Is the push for a republic the ultimate "privatisation" of government?
What about the Flag?
We are told the flag will not be changed. But it is surely significant that most of the prominent people in the Australian Republican Movement have at some time been chairman or members of the Ausflag Committee whose stated aim is to change the flag.
Cost and Benefit
The financial cost for Australia to change to a republic has been estimated as in excess of $500 million. Imagine all the stationery and badges and crests to be changed!
The political cost is far higher:
We would loose the checks and balances to totalitarian power.
The rigid party system would become entrenched in our Constitution
We would lose the Christian link to the foundations of our laws and government
What would be the benefit? I challenge anyone to tell me of one single benefit to the people of Australia by becoming a republic. Would there be one more job? Would anyone in Australia be better off?
What about the Preamble?
We are also to be asked to vote on whether we want a Preamble added to our Constitution. In fact this would be added one page from the END of the Constitution. Perhaps it should be called the "after" amble (or postscript).
It contains a number of vague value statements which all sound fairly harmless at first sight.
However Sir Harry Gibbs, retired Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, warns that these vague value statements can be very dangerous.
We are told these will not be used to interpret the Constitution or law in Australia.
However Sir Harry Gibbs says from his experience on the High Court they WILL be used by the High Court and by the United Nations to find all sorts of unknown and unexpected things in the Constitution.
As an example he says the phrase: "Aborigines kinship with their lands" could be used to undermine or destroy our system of land title in unforseen ways - particularly since we will lose the Crown protection of our land titles.
Further any such interpretation of the Constitution cannot
easily be altered by government.
Vote 'NO' to both Questions!
In defence of our Constitutional Monarchy
A change to a republic would remove the foundations of our laws and freedoms and open the way to dictatorship as Geoffrey Blainey said in 'The Australian' of 11 March 1999.
The function of government is to make and administer laws for the nation. In other words government decides what is right and wrong. On what basis do they so decide?
There are four possibilities:
Australia is a Constitutional Monarchy we have a Monarch and a Constitution. The Constitution limits and defines the powers of the Monarch and the governments under her.
This has developed over 1000 years of British history to provide a system of checks and balances. It is designed to limit the possibility of any one person or body from exercising dictatorial powers.
When the Queen was crowned Queen of Australia in 1953, she took an oath "... to the utmost of her power to maintain the Law of God". She was given a copy of the Bible, and a golden orb with a cross on top to remind her "... that the whole world is under the dominion of Christ".
It is clear therefore that it is intended that the basis of right and wrong in Australia is Gods Law as summarised in the 10 Commandments in the Bible. This has provided the foundation of our whole system of Common Law and our rights and freedoms won at great cost over the last 1000 years.
How is this supposed to work out in practice?
The judiciary, police, defence forces, Members of Parliament and Ministers of State all take an oath of allegiance to the Queen. In so doing they should be taking on the duties to uphold the Coronation oaths.
The Governor General is the Queens Representative in Australia. Although selected by the Prime Minister he is appointed by the Queen and is therefore not accountable to Parliament. He has all the executive powers of a 'Head of State' under the Constitution. He exercises these powers in his own right even when the Queen is present in Australia. He is recognised and accorded by foreign governments all the honours of a 'Head of State' (which is a republican term).
If a proposed law is presented to the Governor General inconsistent with the Law of God, he has a duty and has the discretion under Section S58 of the Constitution to refuse to sign it or to send it back to Parliament for reconsideration.
The proposal to be put to us in November is for the Governor General to be replaced by a President selected by the Prime Minister and appointed by a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament. More importantly he could be dismissed by the Prime Minister at his sole discretion. This only has to be ratified within 30 days by a simple majority in the House of Representatives where the PM has by definition a majority support.
Such a change would remove the link with the Coronation Oath and therefore with the foundation of our system of law and freedoms won over the last 1000 years. Law would no longer theoretically be based on the Law of God and would be what politicians decided behind closed doors. At the same time it would weaken very considerably the checks and balances to dictatorial power in Australia.
In the end it is not so much the power the Queen or the Governor General wields that matters but the power they deny others.
As Yehudi Menhuin observed...
'To have a non-power above power seems to be the ultimate safeguard'
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Written and Authorised by Selwyn Johnston, Cairns FNQ 4870 Australia