“Predictably , critics have struck back at the comments about our head of state by Australians for Constitutional Monarchy convener David Flint concerning Quentin Bryce's trip to Africa,” reports DD McNicoll in ‘Flint's right royal stoush’ in The Australian’s popular Strewth column on 27 March.
“Rob Oakeshott, the independent MP for Lyne, was outraged. ‘If Professor Flint thinks a governor-general travelling on behalf of Australia represents an argument that an Australian is our head of state, can this same professor explain why overseas delegations visiting the Canberra parliament over the past two months, including from Uganda, Korea, Russia and Samoa, have all acknowledged Queen Elizabeth II as our head of state? Does Professor Flint know something representatives from these countries don't, and has G-G Bryce therefore been rudely forgotten in the various acknowledgments, toasts and welcoming speeches from these parliamentarians from the world's nations? Are they in breach of this nation's etiquette, Professor Flint? Or is their protocol spot-on?’
"Strewth is sure Flint will not be lost for pithy answers to Oakeshott's questions."
Indeed. Mr. Oakshott curiously only stood for the Federal Parliament, he says, because he saw me in the street. Fortunately I do not have that effect on everyone. Else Electoral Commission would have problems.
Mr. Oakshott could refer to the well established principles of international law which establish beyond doubt that the GovernorGeneral is head of state, expounded in The Cane Toad Republic, 1999, which remain unchallenged and which have been confirmed by the announcement of the Prime Minister in relation to the South African Tour.
Then he could look at the decision of a unanimous High Court which found the Governor- General is the constitutional head of the Commonwealth, R v Governor of South Australia (1907).
He could look at Sir David Smith’s authoritative and unchallenged 2005 tome, Head of State, as well as my 2008 article in Quadrant.
That the Queen is toasted and acknowledged by the consular and diplomatic corps, and indeed by loyal Australians, is quite correct. Her Majesty is toasted as monarch or Sovereign, a usage also confirmed by the High Court.
Mr. Oakshott’s defence of Her Majesty is most encouraging and confirms that he did not take the Oath or make the Affirmation of Allegiance lightly. We are delighted he did not make a mental reservation or equivocate when he put his hand on the Bible.
But dear Mr. Oakshott, it is not a matter of “either/or” in our wonderfully unique and magnificently successful constitutional system. We have the best of both worlds.
You may be loyal to the Crown as you obviously wish to be, you may honour your Oath and no one will think you weaselled out of your allegiance to your Sovereign just because you respect and honour our Head of State.