July 22

Leading republican academic still doesn’t understand the Constitution

Robert Manne, a professor of politics, is one of the nation’s leading republicans. He has denounced  constitutional monarchists as liars and frauds.

Although his reasons are wrong he has not withdrawn his attacks. He has however re-assessed his previous support for the former Prime Minister, Mr. Rudd.

He claims that monarchists were wrong, and knew they were wrong, in arguing  in the referendum that we already had an Australian Head of state in the Governor-General. His reasons are that:

1.    It is a rule that the  Governor General must disappear, and not be seen in public  (he actually says  “push off”) while The Queen is in the  country.

2.     This proves the Governor-General is not the Head of State

On this, he should have consulted the nation’s authority, Sir David Smith.

From the thumbnail of a photograph on sale by Getty on the left it will be seen that Sir William Slim appeared with The Queen in 1954.

The photographs below  from Canada in 1939 and Australia in 1982 show no such rule existed in either Realm.

…no time to correct himself, but time to re-assess the former Prime Minister…

Professor Manne has not had the time to correct his error, much less apologise for his insulting words. But he has had the time to turn on Kevin Rudd, of whom he had not so long ago become a great supporter.  Indeed, as Andrew Bolt recalls, he said he'd "become a Ruddite", and had generoulsy praised Rudd for being "decisive, good-humoured and calm". 

Now that Mr. Rudd has been overthrown, Andrew Bolt reports that Robert Manne has come out to denounce him ( Daily Telegraph, 30/6).

Rather than seeing Mr. Rudd as decisive, good-humoured and calm, Professor Manne now finds him to be "hyperactive, controlling, hectoring and interfering", "bad at delegation" and guilty of "systemic mismanagement."   He sees a  "tension between word and action".

As Andrew Bolt asks, “Why  didn't you say so earlier, Robert?”

…2020 Summit….

Robert Manne was chosen by the Rudd government to take part in the 2020 Summit.  He and his co-summiteer and fellow intellectual republican, Mark McKenna, accused constitutional monarchists  of  lying and of fraud when they say the Governor-General is Head of State.

They came to this conclusion in a discussion recorded for The Monthly to promote a book “Dear Mr Rudd: Ideas for a Better Australia,” edited by Robert Manne.  The book contained a chapter by Dr McKenna on changing Australia into some sort of politicians’ republic.

As we have seen the only basis for their abuse is that when The Queen is in Australia the Governor-General must disappear, and this proves to them that Her Majesty  is Head of State.

Of course, if constitutional monarchists are lying about this, then various diplomats, foreign governments, presidents, emperors, The Pope, international organizations, the Hawke-Keating governments, and the High Court have fallen for this lie, even before we argued it.

…Sir Anthony Mason’s claim….  


  A few years ago the former Chief Justice of Australia, republican Sir Anthony Mason, made the same claim, but one which he now probably regrets.

 Sir Anthony Mason said he became a republican when watching the 1932-1933 bodyline cricket series, but as Sir David Smith observed, waited 65 years to tell the world, accepting two imperial knighthoods on the way. 

Sir Anthony claimed  it was  a “robust convention” that there is no place for the Governor-General when the Queen is present.   He sought to use this as his coup de grâce in demolishing the argument advanced by Sir David Smith that the Governor General is head of State, an argument  Sir Anthony grandly denounced  at the Australian National University as “ arrant nonsense.”  

Unfortunately, Sir  Anthony’s paper  was replete with error, the  coup de grâce included.  Sir Anthony's central  attack on Sir David centred around Sir Zelman Cowen's absence when the Queen opened the High Court building in Canberra in 1980.

…Sir David finds the truth….


 Sir David Smith replied that  there was such a practice on previous Royal visits, but he knew of no constitutional or other basis for it.  So he took the matter up with Buckingham Palace. He was told that the Palace also knew of no basis for the practice, which seemed to be peculiar to Australia, and that The Queen would be pleased if the Governor-General were present when she opened the High Court.

 As Sir David writes in his book, Head of State (reviewed here, 11 April, 2006), he so informed the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and draft orders of arrangements were prepared which provided a place for the Governor-General on the dais.  

 …Malcolm Fraser appropriates  the G-Gs place…

   It was only when the then Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, saw the draft that he decided that the Governor-General should not be present: with the Governor-General out of the way, his place in the official procession next to the Duke of Edinburgh would be available for the Prime Minister.

Sir Zelman asked Sir David not to pursue the matter, but he was disappointed and very hurt. Far from being the application of a robust convention, the Governor-General’s absence was the result solely of Mr. Fraser desire to rank next to royalty.  

(But later he decided he should join the push to get rid of The Queen. He even joined his rival EG Whitlam in campaigning  on television for a republic in 1999.  We believe that their joint campaign garnered many votes…for the No case.) 

 Sir David points out that when The Queen opened the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane in 1982 the Governor-General, Sir Ninian Stephen, was present and seated next to her, as did the Governor-General of Canada when The Queen  opened the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton in 1978.

 “So much for Sir Anthony's so-called robust convention, “ observes Sir David.

 …more proof….

 Sir David also cites  the opening of the new Parliament House in 1988 to demonstrate the absence of any such convention, robust or not. A painting in Parliament House shows The Queen addressing the assembly in the Great  Hall with the Governor-General on the dais. No doubt to the great embarrassment of  Sir Anthony Mason, a press photograph at the time is fascinating. For it shows, sitting in the front row,  none other than….. Sir Anthony Mason. 



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