…Alexander Downer addresses the lunch on The Queen's Birthday…
Constitutional monarchists have fired the first shot in a fightback against Kevin Rudd's claim of a consensus on the republic emerging from the 2020 summit, reports Samantha Maiden in The Australian on line on 21 April, 2008 (“Downer leads monarchists' fightback”)
“Accusing the talkfest organisers of locking out opponents of Australia moving towards a republic, monarchists David Flint and former foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer today launched a new anti-republican push at the NSW Parliament.”
“Former Foreign Affairs minister Alexander Downer, who spoke today at an anti-republic gathering at the NSW Parliament, has accused 2020 organisers of locking out monarchists and failing to raise any arguments on the need for change.
"’Mr Rudd might achieve his consensus with 1000 geniuses but I doubt it is shared by the rest of Australia,’ he said.
"’You can't change the constitution without causing unintended consequences. It simply isn't worth the trouble. This is not about the Queen or Prince Charles. It is an argument about our constitution.’
“Professor Flint said it appeared a lone participant – Senator Brandis – raised his hand in support of the current constitutional arrangements in the 100-strong governance group chaired by Parliamentary secretary Maxine McKew and News Ltd CEO John Hartigan.
“But in a smaller group of 30 established to debate a republic, Sir William participated but abstained on the key question. Other conference participants have confirmed to The Australian Online that this was the case.
"’I understand that he abstained from the recommendation about a Republic,’ Professor Flint told The Australian Online.
"’That couldn't have been a mistake, not appointing any constitutional monarchists. It is pretty shabby.’
“Professor Flint said it was clear conference participants appeared to be stacked with republicans who were out of step with the general community. "’It's something that is clung to very much by the inner city elites. It doesn't interest the rank and file of the nation,’ he said. “Professor Flint, who will host a discussion group for monarchists today in Sydney, said the conference push to cut ties with the UK also showed a lack of understanding over the nation's constitutional arrangements. "’Firstly, ties were cut in 1986. That means all of the powers in relation to the crown are now exercised by the Australian crown,’ he said.
"Until then in relation to the Queen it was the British government advised the Queen (in relation to the Australian states). So when they appointed a governor in Australia, it was the British ministers who told the Queen.
"’I am surprised, there were a lot of people who should have known. The recommendation itself says stage one is ending ties.’
…Senator Brandis questions legality of plebiscite…
According to Ms Maiden, the federal opposition legal affairs spokesman Senator George Brandis has also told The Australian Online he questions the legality of a two-stage process towards a republic.
" Senator Brandis said the preferred model recommended by the 2020 summit _ a plebiscite on the question of whether Australia wants a republic followed by a referendum on the model _ is designed to dodge the requirement that a proper referendum needs a majority of voters and a majority of states on the core question.
"'What you will be doing is effectively getting around section 128. I think that would be unlawful,' said Senator Brandis, who was invited to the summit as one of a handful of conservative participants.
"'You can't amend the constitution through the mechanism of a plebiscite, preventing people from expressing an opinion not to change at all.”'
….Oath of Allegiance…
On the invitation of Professor Flint the assembly renewed their Oaths Of Allegiance to The Queen, her heirs and successors.
Both the National Anthem and the Royal Anthem were sung, the Loyal Toast offered and Grace said by the Reverend Fred Nile.