The republican model now favoured by the republican establishment is the “direct election” model, supported by Mark Latham and now Mr Beazley.
In Australia, this would involve replacing the Crown, our oldest institution, and one above politics, with what the republicans believe the country desperately needs.
And what is it that the republican establishment think the country desperately needs? You guessed it…… another politician.
That politician would enjoy the considerable powers of the Crown, powers now exercised only for constitutional and never political purposes. After all, that is what a constitutional monarchy is.
Under the Latham-Beazley republic, those powers will be in the hands of a politician. How will he or she use them? Would it surprise anyone that these powers would be used for… political advantage?.
An excellent example of this has just emerged .
It comes from the release of British government papers , but it concerns the actions of a president. On this occasion it was the then President of the French Republic. There an elected President can “co-habit” , as they say, with a Prime Minister, of another party to the President’s . Even when they are in the same party, as is the case now, the President and the Prime Minister, and today one of the leading ministers, are all engaged in effectively contesting the preselection as their party’s next presidential candidate.
It means the President has no hesitation in using his vast powers to advance his political interests, which of course does not happen under our constitution.
This story relates to the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in 1985 in a New Zealand port, which we now realize was actually authorised by the French President, socialist Francois Mitterand.
Mitterand held office for 14 years, longer than any other leader since that nineteenth president who so loved the office that he used that favourite republican device, the plebiscite to become president for life as the Emperor Napoleon III.
Mitterand decided on this criminal course of action because he feared that the Rainbow Warrior would disrupt France’s controversial nuclear test programme in Tahiti. Mitterand’s crime resulted in the death of one sailor.
In the resulting scandal, Mitterrand was in danger of being forced from office as politicians and officials struggled to avoid the blame and save their jobs.
According to documents recently released in London, and published in The Guardian, the British ambassador in Paris warned the Foreign Office: "The highest personalities in the land are fighting for political survival and even the fabric of the state is beginning to shake under the impact of repeated revelations, denunciations, attempts to acknowledge bits of truth while concealing others … and the desperate attempts to find answers which will somehow satisfy public opinion while keeping the president above the melee."
Then a strange thing happened . Soon after the bombing the French media began to suggest that the British intelligence agency, MI6, and not the French, had actually sunk the Rainbow Warrior. This was doen, they said, to discredit France. The british had then framed the French secret agents. An alternative story was that French secret agents had bought the dinghies used to plant the bombs from people close to MI6 and that MI6 had prior knowledge of the planned sabotage.
By late August in 1985, one London newspaper informed the Foreign Office that "French official sources were briefing freely ‘anyone who would listen’ about British involvement in the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior".
The British demanded the French put a stop to what they called this "campaign of misinformation". But the French media continued to report stories about MI5’s involvement, the British believing that the French embassy in London was the source.
The Foreign Office then advised the Foreign Secretary to take firmer action against the French, observing that “the cumulative evidence from many quarters of French official briefing now seems irrefutable.”
"Allegations of British skulduggery continue to find a receptive audience in France, but have surfaced less and less frequently as French responsibility has become unmistakably clear."
Mitterand refused to accept responsibility for his crime, but instead used his “reserve” power to dismiss both the defence minister, Charles Hernu, and the head of the secret service, Admiral Pierre Lacoste.
So there we have it. An elected President authorises the commission of a crime on the territory of a friendly power, uses his office to put stories around that another ally was the author, and then exercises his “reserve “ power to blame and sack a minister and a public servant.
And don’t think for a moment that conservative presidents have not also used the reserve powers for purely political advantage.
And this is the model the republicans want for Australia!
They want to replace our Governor-General and our Governors with more politicians, who, being politicians, will use their inherited powers for political advantage.
Until next time,