October 1

East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq: crowned republics?



The Hon. Nicola Roxon, now Federal Minister for Health, once claimed, from opposition, that constitutional monarchy was never suggested as an option for governance in recent years in Timor, Afghanistan or Iraq. Readers of this column will know that a return to a crowned republic – constitutional monarchy – was in fact proposed for both Iraq and Afghanistan. The reason was that constitutional monarchy in both was by comparison with what followed, a golden period indeed.

In Afghanistan the only reason the constitutional monarchy was not restored was an American veto. We can see the results.

…East Timor….

As for East Timor, there were suggestions that the Westminster model under some form of crowned republic would be a better solution than what was eventually adopted.  After all if anyone can be said to be the father of East Timorese independence, it was the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard. 

Australia has one of the world's most successful constiutional systems. And as Tim Fischer has observed, two letters were written in the last century which led to nations being created. One was the 1917 letter from Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Baron Rothschild which ultimately led to the foundation of Israel. The other was the 1998 letter from John Howard to President Habibie of Indonesia, which led to the independence of East Timor.

For this John Howard was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, (“John Howard and the Nobel Peace Prize”, 29 September 2009, Quadrant)  

…."blowtorch to constitutional monarchy"…

Back in 2006, Ms. Roxon was calling for republicans to apply the blowtorch to constitutional monarchy.”   Ms. Roxon  rejoiced in the fact that ”… being a republican is a core condition of membership to the (Labor) caucus”. (But so have been socialism and the White Australia Policy. And all of the greatest leaders of the Labor Party -all of them – were constitutional monarchists.)

Ms Roxon claimed then to have discovered an immutable law of history, that constitutional monarchy is a stage between absolute monarchy and a republic, presumably any old republic , even the disastrous Timorese one, which if adopted here would indeed be a cane toad republic.  

She said those who developed the constitutional monarchy “would turn in their graves, I suspect, were they to see the likes of David Flint or Tony Abbott suggesting that their compromise was the final destination for democratic progress.” 

….low opinion of our constitutional system?…

The "compromise" she referred to was our crowned republic.  She then asked her audience to “… imagine if instead of Xanana Gusmao the East Timorese had to rely on Sir John Kerr, as the representative of a distant foreign monarch, to restore order. One shudders at the thought.”

Ms. Roxon is now, as the Constitution grandly declares, one of “The Queen’s Ministers of State for the Commonwealth.”  

Does she still believe that the East Timorese constitution is superior to ours, one of the world’s most successful?  


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