Dr Brendan Nelson, Federal Minister for Education, in the Dame Pattie Menzies Oration http://www.dest.gov.au/Ministers/Media/Nelson/2005/04/Speech180405.asp, has recalled the essential role of the Crown in our Constitution.
The power wielded by The Queen resides, he said, not in what she exercises but that which she denies others – notably political figures.
Although symbolism is important, he said, an Australian Republic is not our most urgent need. In the past three years the only people he had heard raise it had been in the federal parliament.
Australia will inevitably return to the issue at some point, he said, but he hoped the nation would look beyond what he referred to as the soap opera antics of some members of the royal family, to the system of government that serves us so well.
In the meantime, I replied to an attack by the ARM in the Australian Financial Review on the effectiveness of our constitution in providing an apolitical head of state with this letter:
If Mr.O’Shaughnessy ( letters 20/4)wants an apolitical head of state he should join his ARM leader, Senator Marise Payne, who has publicly distanced herself from the ARMs current plan for a cascading series of plebiscites and a referendum for a republic. This, she said, is because republican constitutional lawyer, Professor Greg Craven, had convinced her that the republican model which would go to the referendum under the ARM plan would be a constitutional disaster.
This would involve regular , expensive elections for yet another politician, the president, who would be a political rival to the prime minister of the day. Australia already has an apolitical head of state, the Governor-General, recognized most recently as such at the funeral of the Pope, John Paul II, where he was placed in the front row of the many foreign dignitaries.
Until next time,