In an unprecedented outburst, the Victorian Attorney-General, Mr. Rob Hulls, has slammed monarchists as “rabid” and described The Queen “a colonial relic.”
Earlier he had proudly announced that he has modernised the legal system. He has not only suppressed a Latin term, his pièce de résistance is that prosecutions will no longer be brought in The Queen’s name.
So will this measure restore law and order? Will people have more confidence in walking the streets at night? Will they be able to take the bars off their windows? Will there be an increase in confidence in the legal system?
…the A-G’s role….
As the Victorian Convenor of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, Brett Hogan told The Age (18/12) and The Herald Sun:
“If Rob Hulls were serious about modernising the law in Victoria then he would downgrade his own title from the rather fancy ‘Attorney General’ to the more realistic ‘Minister for Legal Affairs’. Until then, we will all suspect that he is playing the republic card again.”
“Having legal cases go forward on behalf of the Queen or the Crown reflects the fact that the case against an accused is pursued on behalf of the state as a whole, not the person who currently happens to hold the office of Director of Public Prosecutions.”
“Rather than using his office to pursue an ideological agenda, most Victorians would prefer that Mr Hulls do what he is actually paid for – like reduce the cost of justice and court case waiting lists and ensure criminals spend more time in jail.”
In a letter published in The Age (19/12) Bruce Knox of Mount Albert writes:
“Rob Hulls' claim that the Victorian justice system is ''modernised'' by substituting ''Director of Public Prosecutions'' for ''The Queen'' in the courts is wholly unconvincing.
“The Queen is the personification of the state, one function of which is, precisely, to administer justice. The DPP is merely an official attending to details. The change is thus not merely illogical but distorts and degrades the legal process.”
“Mr Hulls also employs the pejorative description of the Queen as a ''colonial relic'' to vindicate his policies. What then of the system of parliamentary government? “
“Transcending the vagaries of modern politics, for practical purposes it seems to be remarkably effective. Yet it – including the then Queen, her heirs and successors – was deliberately adopted by the colony of Victoria a century and a half ago, unquestionably a ''colonial relic'' under the Hulls doctrine. It is troubling that the Liberals and Nationals do not feel obliged to denounce, and promise to undo, such measures.”
….”rabid monarchists” and reform….
When some constitutionalists questioned this measure, Mr Hulls declared them “rabid monarchists.” That is, he said they were dangerously mad, infected by disease.
Mr. Hull presents his measures as a “reform”. Be wary whenever a politician talks of reform.
Reform can mean one of three things. It can mean genuine reform, some improvement in the public interest. But itt can mean the opposite, something which is against the public interest and which should be challenged. Just as one example, take the removal of planning powers from local government in NSW and the abuse of power with the temptation of corruption which followed.
And finally, a reform can often be little more than a distraction from the real issues. A favourite device of politicians is name changing. How many times has the response to complaints about our public transport systems been a very expensive change of name?
The suppression of prosecutions in the name of the Crown is nothing more than a distraction from the real issues, and an exercise in creeping republicanism. It is against the public interest.
Creeping republicanism is a petty act of revenge by republican politicians for the people’s refusal to abandon their “Federal Commonwealth under the Crown” – their Crowned Republic –in favour of a politicians’ republic. And announcing it just before the visit of Prince William recalls a studied insult the NSW politicians engaged in at the time of the Commonwealth Games. Knowing The Queen was coming, they abolished the Oath of Allegiance – the very Oath which so many of them had sworn, often more than once.
The underlying reason for this behaviour is that the republican elites object to the fact that our oldest institution, the Australian Crown, provides leadership beyond politics and remains a significant check and balance on the politicians. They want the constitutional system to be fully under the control of the political class.
Recently a leading republican academic, Professor George Williams conceded that the politicians’ republic put to the people in 1999 was in fact seriously defective. The president could be dismissed without notice, without reasons and without recourse. As Australians for Constitutional Monarchy said at the time, this would have been the only republic in the world where it would have been easier for the prime minister to sack the president than his cook. This republic – the preferred choice of the republican politicians -would have made the political class more powerful and less accountable.
The republican politicians now want to hide the Crown, the institution which is a check on them, from the people. They calculate that it will then be easier to remove the Crown in some future referendum.
….lessons in law and legal history – for the A-G….
Mr. Hulls claimed prosecutions have hitherto been made in the name of The Queen of England. As Attorney General, surely he must know that the High Court has ruled that the Australian Crown is a separate institution, and what he has done is to remove references to The Queen of Australia.
He points to the 1986 Australia Act in justification, forgetting this allows the Premier to advise The Queen on matters relating to his state, a privilege accorded only to the Australian premiers and not, for example, the premiers of Canadian provinces. Indeed, the premier, Mr. Brumby, was delighted to be received recently by The Queen.
In dismissing prosecutions in the name of The Queen as a mere "colonial relic," Mr Hull ignores what he would have learned as a law student. This was that the birth of our modern criminal law came with the acceptance that a crime not just a matter between the criminal and his victims.
As the great legal historian FW Maitland says, a crime became “a wrong against the nation,” with “the King as the nation’s representative”. And a crime today remains a breach of The Queen’s peace, whether or not Mr. Hulls chooses to hide this.