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 Republicanism is in the air—again!

14.01.22.  Two egotists in the pond compete to the largest fish in a small pond—Pirate Pete FitzSimons and Malcolm Turnbull—the later, a jellyfish did achieve king of the pond until he pooped in the political waters. Imagine the bandanna boofhead FitzSimons as king of Australia? What a joke!
It is a herculean task to devise a republican model that would pass a referendum. But it is even more challenging to devise a model that just about every Australian would reject. This is the achievement of Peter FitzSimons and his Australian Republic Movement. After years of cogitation, they have produced a model so incoherent, complex and downright wrong it makes Sydney’s traffic system look like a masterpiece in design.

Source: Greg Craven for NCA

New model of republic a ‘bad car’ set to crash

The writing is on the wall as soon as you glance at their blueprint. Instead of reasoning, much of the document is pictures: a koala, Uluru, a kangaroo and beaches. This is not a constitutional document, but a sales brochure for a very bad car.
The most striking thing about the “model” is that it tries to please everyone, except monarchists, who are beyond the pale. It cumbersomely flirts with both constitutional conservatives and direct electionists. Neither will get into bed.
Take constitutional conservatives. They rightly detest popular election because it would produce a constitutionally divided nation. We would have both a head of state and a prime minister, each with a direct popular mandate. Profound conflict would not merely be likely, but inevitable – 1975 would not be a once-in-a-century event. It would be a regular item on the political menu.
The ARM is desperate to avoid this charge, so it denies its model provides for direct election. But ultimately it involves a popular election of between up to 11 candidates approved by a gaggle of state and commonwealth parliaments.
Which part of a popular vote is not direct election, and how would this not produce a head of state with a popular mandate? (Johannes Leak cartoon)


The ARM baldly asserts its model would not produce a Shane Warne. But it probably would produce something worse. Any state parliament would be free – and likely – to propose an agreeable former politician or current activist. Julia Gillard, Campbell Newman and Tim Flannery could all be starters.
These types would come armed and ready for political conflict with their prime minister: and in an election, they would campaign on their agenda.
And who says we would not get Shane Warne? Victoria might decide having one of its own was worth the odd lurid headline. So there go all the constitutional conservatives, uneasily joining the monarchists in voting no.
Then there are the direct electionists. The model panders to them by granting a popular vote among up to 11 chosen candidates.
But why would someone seriously in favour of direct election endorse a model where candidates were pre-chosen by the very political elites they despise? Anyone for guided democracy?
So again, the FitzSimons model is half-pregnant, waiting to give birth to a monster. Just as conservatives will never accept popular election, no principled direct electionist would accept being told to choose only among a pre-approved First XI of candidates.
There goes the radical wing of republicans.
All this happens before you get into the guts of the model, as unpalatable as undercooked tripe.
Those writing the proposal fail to understand you cannot codify the reserve powers. They are not a set of simple rules, but a constitutional psychology. Trying to codify them would be like trying to codify a rave party.
So, the ARM model proposes vast, uninformed changes, without even realising they would provoke dissension, rage and hissy fits.
For example, the model makes no allowance for the head of state to force an election in the case of the Senate blocking supply. You may not like what Sir John Kerr did in 1975, but what happens when the money runs out, and public servants cannot be paid?
Under the ARM, model, you have to go to a double dissolution, which practically would take months. Departmental secretaries would starve in the streets.
Then there is the thorny question of what happens if the prime minister – backed by parliament – determines to follow a course that is objectively unconstitutional and illegal. One view of the reserve powers is that the GG can refuse to co-operate, and even sack the PM.
Under the ARM model, the governor-general simply would be required to sign and – quite literally – be damned.
The unnerving thing about all this is not that the ARM has got it hopelessly wrong, but that it does not even seem to be aware of the issues. As time goes on, many more worms will wriggle out.
The ARM also has no understanding of referendum politics. The Australian electorate is constitutionally conservative. Knowing they have a good constitutional hand, they are inclined to sit on it.
Every radical proposal is a millstone. Every ounce of complexity is a nightmare.
This proposal is full of constitutional mines just waiting to explode, from direct election to Senate powers. In terms of complexity, reading it is like tackling Tolstoy in Hungarian.
The ARM makes much of self-commissioned polling that – unconvincingly – proves the model would win at a referendum. This is structurally implausible, if every identifiable constitutional group will be viscerally opposed.
Nor is one reassured by the statement the ARM consulted with “members” and “registered supporters”, as well as conducting “representative national polling”. God knows what the question was.
But look at the ARM’s own figures, however dodgy they may be. A bare 57 per cent of the electorate would be committed to voting for the model. Referendum support inevitably goes down as a model’s flaws are exposed. This one is already doomed.
There is one further embarrassing fact for the woke progressives – many dear friends – who designed this shambles. Surely, if there is one referendum that should be first in the queue, it is Indigenous recognition. But no, the blackfellas will have to wait while we argue indulgently over a head of state.
The paper makes a cursory reference to amending the preamble, but Indigenous people do not want constitutional axes and beads. They want a real voice.
Peter FitzSimons is one of the most self-conscious progressives in Australia. On this point alone, he should hang his bandana in shame.

Emeritus Professor Greg Craven is a constitutional lawyer and former vice-chancellor of the Australian Catholic University.

{ 27 comments… add one }
  • God58 14/01/2022, 6:39 am

    Why we keep calling communists “progressives” is a sick joke.

    • Disgruntled 14/01/2022, 7:28 am

      Big tick!

      Something I never could understand; It is stupid, stupid and more stupid.

      • Disgruntled 14/01/2022, 7:52 am

        Back to the story.
        The image at the top is etched in my subconscious and every time I see FitzSimons this is what I see.
        The Johannes Leak cartoon is good and shows just why we should keep with the status quo. At least we know what we got!
        At least we now won’t have Andrew, hahaha; That other clown is just as bad if not worse though.

        All things considered I think it best not to change! For a fair time at least. Too many other things to worry about at present!

        Changing would be like having a “flat earth” and sailing off the edge! (what’s there??)

    • Tony H 14/01/2022, 11:21 am

      Agree! Marxism, Communism, Leftism, Progressivism and socialism its all the same! Only by a different name, to give it legitimacy and make palatable! Why do we have thousands of so called young generation calling out for socialism? It is a disgrace that those who have grown up in a free society never making sacrifice for anything would dare to entertain such an ideology! It is a travesty and indication of the poor standards of education. We have so called Conservatives calling themselves ‘ Progressives’ with such pious arrogance, when they are nothing more than fifth element cockroaches.

    • Aktosplatz 14/01/2022, 4:09 pm

      Point taken God58

  • Graham Richards 14/01/2022, 6:54 am

    The design of a Republic will not be easy but the ultimate goal is essential.

    Australia cannot afford to have Prince Wanker of Wales as the head of state.

    • PW 14/01/2022, 8:42 am

      Why not?
      Both the picture at the top and one of HRH Charlie boy carry the same impact -zilch. They both cancel each other out.

    • Aktosplatz 14/01/2022, 4:13 pm

      Graham is right, give that self righteous idiot (Chuck) a miss. So, in fact, when the Queen falls of her perch, we should separate ourselves completely from The Windsors, with whom we have absolutely nothing in common.

  • Pensioner Pete 14/01/2022, 7:35 am

    Unless the people of Australia can elect their own President of their choice, the movement towards a Republic is doomed from the outset.

    The notion of parliamentarians selecting a group of people for electors to select from is paternalistic, abhorrent, distasteful and simply will not do, thus this proposed Republican model will fail.

    We the people, will select our President and no bloody politician will tell us, for whom we are to vote for, for this is not a democratic model, it is a continuation of totalitarianism we are experiencing currently throughout the nation, so stick this model very, very far up where the sun does not shine.

    • PW 14/01/2022, 8:44 am

      One could say that each AOTY is selected by the public whom selects them. Same process will be used.

    • DT 14/01/2022, 2:46 pm

      Former Labor Premier of NSW, Bob Carr, opposed the Republic Referendum model and then said that the system we have does not need to be changed as Australia is one of the best democracies of all. He said if there was a very good reason to change it should be minimal change, remove the Monarch and leave the permanent head of state, Governors General as the Constitution provides for.

      In The Australian today he explained why the latest republican model is badly flawed including;

      “Republic model risks president-PM balance
      Bob Carr has warned the new model for an Australian republic would risk a directly elected head of state viewing their mandate from the people as being superior to that of the PM.”

      In other words our system (Westminster primarily with some USA insertions) but removing the Queen as it is now and leaving the Governor General in place.

      Before commenting/criticising it would be wise to research the Constitution and position of Governors General. Adding an elected president would in fact be an added complication that does not exist in the UK Westminster System of Government.

      During the 1930s the British Parliament created an Act of Parliament that removed most of the few remaining powers of a Monarch including for Commonwealth Nations and in the 1980s the Australia Act of Parliament reinforced the British Act here.

  • Tamworth 14/01/2022, 7:57 am

    The President of the Republic of Ireland is directly elected.
    Apart from ceremonial things he has one duty. To uphold the constitution.
    If he has any doubts about an Act proposed by the government he can consult the Supreme Court as to whether the Act is constitutional. If not, he refuses to sign it into law.
    If the Govt goes ahead anyway, he has a trick up his sleeve. He is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces – he can call in the Army to make the government think again.
    He has never had to do it, because governments have seen that if, for example, they want to change the constitution to legalise homosexual marriage they have to have a nationwide referendum. As they did.

  • Albert 14/01/2022, 9:24 am

    I read just the other day that jellyfish don’t have a brain but even so they have been around for some 65 million years. It appears that Fitzmoron and Turdball come from the same species.

    • Neville 14/01/2022, 7:15 pm

      N-i-i-i-c-e one there, Albert!

  • Aktosplatz 14/01/2022, 10:18 am

    The Governor General is the titular Head of State, and at the moment, represents the Queen.

    When the Queen dies, just terminate that representation to keep Charles out.

    No other changes needed. We will then be a republic but will also still be the same constitutional monarchy.

    The worse thing we can do is allow the Turnbulls and Fitzsimmons types start meddling with the Constitution.

    • DT 14/01/2022, 2:54 pm

      As we have agreed previously Aktosplatz.

    • Neville 14/01/2022, 7:18 pm

      Quite agree with that, Akto.
      And, keeping all other things equal, we could even call the old ‘governer general’ position a ‘president’, and add the Irish presidential power mentioned above.

  • Aktosplatz 14/01/2022, 10:26 am

    The Governor General is the titular Head of State, and at the moment, represents the Queen.

    When the Queen dies, just terminate that representation to keep Charles out. He is a self appointed expert on Climate Change and has got involved with the Green version of Climate Change, so we don’t want him, as he has now become politically active.

    No other changes needed. We will then be a republic but will also still be operating as the same constitutional monarchy.

    The worse thing we can do is allow the Turnbulls and Fitzsimons types start meddling with the Constitution. It isn’t broke and doesn’t need fixing. It just needs our politicians to abide by it.

  • Botswana O'Hooligan 14/01/2022, 11:12 am

    Greg Craven writes:- “Then there is the thorny question of what happens if the prime minister – backed by parliament – determines to follow a course that is objectively unconstitutional and illegal.”

    Well, they are doing that right now and have been for a while, trashing our constitution, and look at the bloody mess we are in. As bad as he might be Charlie the green would be distanced from us just as Lizzie is and couldn’t do all that much harm, but think of the harm Flannery, turnbull, Andrews, or Gillard could do to us.

  • Tony H 14/01/2022, 11:27 am

    I am so angry and tired of this mob and their tantrums every year at this same time! They should be reminded they lost resoundingly in a referendum! But like spoilt petulant little brats who want their own way we are subjected to this BS every year!
    They cannot provide a system to replace what we have only calling for a Republic, they do not even know what type they want. One look at the whinging sooks like red hanky head tells you what they want! It will be a Communist dictatorship with draconian laws much like the ones being enforced by the Marxist Premiers and their Covid plans!
    With the threat of an expansionist China and the WEF ‘ Great Reset’ breathing down our necks the Marxist media may get its wish one way or another.

    • Neville 14/01/2022, 7:20 pm

      Agreed, TH.
      I’m reminded of the old joke about why does he wear a red hanky on his bonce – to hide the circumcision scars, or course.

  • Cliff 14/01/2022, 1:13 pm

    Re the topic of how to pick a Head of State should we ditch the esteemed lady in Britain (or some time in the future, her son).

    Surely to God the last thing we need in this grossly over-governed country is yet another election, particularly for what hopefully will be a 99% titular position. (I like the description of the Irish presidency in a post above and would like to see something very similar here should be ditch the monarchy.)

    Like it or not, should we go that route, we would stand a very good chance of ending up with someone incredibly unsuitable but with very deep pockets, deep enough to spend more than anyone else on getting him/herself elected.

    My suggestion? A lottery.

    Whoa! Now before you shout this (some would say, ridiculous) idea down, please consider its advantages before dismissing this idea out of hand. Have parliament (yes, the dreaded parliamentarians) draw up a list of (say) 100 suitable candidates, with each and every candidate who makes it onto the final list requiring the approval of 2/3rds of MPs. This (the 2/3rds approval) would ensure that no one from either side of politics or being even mildly controversial would ever make the list.

    And then stick the hundred names in a hat and pick one.

    This idea is not without precedent, and has been found to be remarkably successful. Take the time to listen to this (I thought) very interesting interview:

    https://www.pushkin.fm/episode/the-powerball-revolution/

    • Neville 14/01/2022, 7:30 pm

      That sounds like a not-half-bad lurk, Cliff.
      With a (reasonable) stack of reserve powers, a clearly stipulated role and responsibility of being the “defender of the constitution”, and being the commander-in-chief of the aussie defences force/s; it all sounds a bit like the correct title for such a person should be the (elected) monarch!
      What a thought!! Instead of pissfarting around trying to work out just WHO “should” be a ‘president’, just have an ELECTED monarch (popularly elected), as quite a number of different European countries (of variable permanency, admittedly) have done over the last thousand years or so.
      Then the PM of the day gets on with the job as written (except for control over the defence forces), and bob’s yer uncle!

  • Neville 14/01/2022, 7:29 pm

    That sounds like a not-half-bad lurk, Cliff.
    With a (reasonable) stack of reserve powers, a clearly stipulated role and responsibility of being the “defender of the constitution”, and being the commander-in-chief of the aussie defences force/s; it all sounds a bit like the correct title for such a person should be the (elected) monarch!
    What a thought!! Instead of pissfarting around trying to work out just WHO “should” be a ‘president’, just have an elected monarch, as quite a number of different European countries (of variable permanency, admittedly) have done over the last thousand years or so.

  • Mustapha Bunn 14/01/2022, 9:29 pm

    Maybe the best idea could be to just ignore the peanut with the bandana every time he turns up each January.

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