December 17

Attorney -General: contempt for the people certainly; a studied insult too?

The Victorian Attorney-General and Acting Premier Mr. Rob Hull has just shown his contempt for the people. Although the people overwelmingly rejected the politicians’ republic in all states ten years ago, he has just indulged in yet another example of creeping republicanism. As it was announced just before the visit of Prince William, was it also the sort of studied insult the NSW politicians engaged in just before The Queen’s last visit?  And was it a distraction from the serious problems which afflict the legal system?

Removing reference to the Crown in criminal proceedings is part of the agenda to make the people unaware of our oldest institution. This institution, the Australian Crown, provides leadership beyond politics and remains a significant check and balance on the politicians.

Recently a leading republican academic, Professor George Williams has agreed the 1999 republic was deficient in that the president could be removed without notice, without reasons and without recourse. As ACM 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.

Mr. Hulls says the change modernises the law making it more accessible and relevant, reflecting our independence. It does nothing of the sort.  Why doesn’t Mr. Hull address the real and serious deficiencies in our criminal justice system?  Why doesn’t he address the fact that ordinary people   are denied access to the civil courts by a well justified fear that a consequence of seeking justice is that they may be made bankrupt. Does removing references to the Crown serve as a useful distraction from the real problems afflicting our legal system?

…studied insult?…

And why did Mr. Hulls choose to do this just before the visit of Prince William, a future King of Australia?  Was this coincidental, or was it the sort of studied and infantile insult the NSW Parliament indulged in by removing the politicians’ oath of allegiance days before The Queen arrived on her last visit in 2007?

The late Professor George Winterton, the republicans leading intellectual, completely disapproved of this sort of creeping republicanism, where opportunistic politicians remove the signs and symbols of the Crown. He thought it wrong to move before the people had made a decision.

And, incidentally, he also thought it disadvantaged the republican case.  Has Mr. Hulls shot himself in the foot?


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