May 9

A model constitution

Imagine a country where the head of state, legally immune from criminal investigation concerning events years ago when he was a powerful lord mayor, wants to contest the next election. If that proves politically unacceptable, he wants his prime minister to stand in his place. But the interior minister is a serious rival. When the prime minister tries to introduce what the government sees as a minor economic reform to reduce high youth unemployment, this is met by weeks of violent demonstrations by the unions and youth organizations. In intensity and violence, these rival the ethnic riots which had recently paralysed the country. The interior minister openly distances himself from the government’s policy. Then the head of state appears on national TV and undermines his prime minister by diluting the policy. When the riots continue, he makes the prime minister appear on national TV to announce a complete cave in.

A few weeks later, a national newspaper drops a bombshell. It claims that in 2004 the prime minister had instructed a senior intelligence officer, a general, to follow up claims that the interior minister held an illegal foreign bank account fuelled by bribes from the sale of naval frigates. The claims turned out to be bogus. The report says that the prime minister, who was foreign minister at the time, told the general that the head of state wanted the interior minister investigated. It reveals the general’s compromising note of the meeting : "Political stake: Interior Minister. Fixation on him ( re conflict head of state/interior minister)”

This is France today under the Fifth Republic. How would Australians react if it were revealed that a number of politicians are actually planning to introduce a similar system into Australia? The report of a Senate Committee revealing this was deliberately released when it would not be noticed. Shouldn’t this be something the media should now reveal?You would think that, say, there would be an ABC Four Corners programme on this? You would think there would be investigations into the actions of politicians trying to soften up the public for this change?

Is the reason that republicanism is still part of the agenda for too many in the media?


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Integrity be damned

Integrity be damned
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