October 21

Kim Beazley Endorses Latham Model

Kim Beazley has thrown his support behind the Latham model where a directly elected president would be at the head of an Australian republic, according to a report, "Let Voters Choose President: Beazley", by Steve Lewis, chief political reporter for The Australian in its 21 October , 2005 issue.

The Latham model differs from the model, the so-called "politicians’ republic", which Mr Beazley and Mr Malcolm Turnbull strongly campaigned for in the 1999 referendum.

Mr Turnbull says the Latham model, which would involve the election of a politician as president, is dangerous. He thinks the people would realize this in the debate on it , and it would be defeated even more significantly than in 1999.

In the meantime, three politicians, Liberal senator Mitch Fifield, Labor frontbencher Nicola Roxon and Democrat Senator Natasha Stott Despoja are hoping to revive interest in republicanism.

Senator Despoja is upset that Mr Beazley has endorsed a model. Is she saying she wants change , but has no idea what change she wants?

But as Stephen Copeman, the Convenor of Young ACM asks, when will the republican politicians “… learn that this is not a vote winner? Instead of this destructive, divisive policy, let’s embrace the wonderful, proven system we have now. At least in this system we already have an Australian head of state in the Governor-General.”

The Australian, which was a major supporter of the yes case in 1999, admits interest in a republic has waned. Indeed its own polls show support for a republic is at its lowest since the defeat of the referendum on the republic in 1999. And that was a landslide.

Mr Beazley said he had yet to decide how to proceed on a republic ahead of the next election, scheduled for 2007.

If Labor wins office, Mr Beazley said it would be his intention to hold a referendum in tandem with the following election, due to be held in 2010. He appears to have abandoned the two plebiscites which Mark Latham proposed holding before the referendum.

According to The Australian, Mr Beazley was seeking to tap into popular support for a directly elected head of state when he said it was clear most Australians wanted a say in who should be the national symbol.

Mr Beazley seemed to suggest that the reserve powers of the Governor-General should be trimmed back. He said it would be important to "codify" the powers of an elected head of state so the 1975 constitutional crisis could not be repeated.

In fact, as Sir David Smith says, there was no constitutional crisis in 1975. There was a political crisis- opposition senators were delaying approving supply to the government, and the government was attempting to govern without supply. This crisis was resolved constitutionally, and a decision on it made by the people.

When some politicians next make a complete mess of the government of our country , does Mr Beazley really argue that the Head of State should be powereless to refer the issue to the people?

Until next time,

David Flint


Beazley, Kim Beazley, Malcolm Turnbull, Natasha Stott Despoja, The Australian

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