In many respects, Australia, like the United Kingdom, is already a republic, declares Alan Fenna , Professor of Politics at the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy, Curtin University in a volume published in honour of the late Professor George Winterton, one of Australia’s leading constitutional lawyers.
( A tribute to Professor Winterton appeared in this column in 2008).
Professor Fenna is a leading proponent of constitutional change to remove the Crown.
“Well over a century ago Walter Bagehot, whose ‘canonical works’ have done more than even Dicey’s to define ‘the English Constitution’, was characterising Britain as having a system of ‘veiled republicanism’.
“Bagehot was undoubtedly exaggerating – though not greatly – for effect, but he was identifying the unmistakable trend, and since then of course the veil has become diaphanous.
“The metaphor was less apt to Australia, where what Bagehot called the ‘dignified ‘part of the Constitution scarcely plays that sort of masquerading role relative to what he calls the ‘efficient’ part, but the underlying message is equally applicable.
“Following on from Bagehot, (Professor) Brian Galligan described Australia as being a ‘disguised republic’, but James Bryce’s earlier term ‘Crowned Republic is the more apt.”