April 10

Mr. FitzSimons discovers the Commander in Chief

Peter Fitzsimons expressed surprise in his column in the Sun Herald on 9 April, 2006, that the Governor-General is actually the Commander in Chief, normally acting on the advice of the Ministers of the Crown .But Mr. Fitzsimons, that is exactly what a constitutional monarchy is.

Mr. FitzSimons has been somewhat coy about republicanism since devising the "mate for Head of State" campaign for Australia Day. He told us he had been working for months on this in clandestine meetings in  Sydney’s legal precinct. The result was a national celebration centered on a sausage sizzle at Bondi Beach. This attracted about 50 people, members of the public preferring to queue and pay for their sausages at the North Bondi Surf Club. 

But to return to the Governor –General, he is certainly no rubber stamp. He may, as Commander in Chief, exercise the rights to be consulted, to encourage and to warn. He may wish to be assured that the advice he receives is lawful, and that any condition on the exercise of any power has been fulfilled.  Indeed in emergencies he may have to act on his own initiative.  In Grenada in 1983 the Governor-General, Sir Paul Scoon, was faced with a bloody insurrection and the collapse of the government. As Commander in Chief he decided to invite foreign friendly forces to come in and restore order.

It works splendidly, Mr. FitzSimons. When – and if – the republican movement ever works out what it actually wants, we can compare this.




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