June 18

One monarchist is worth six republicans – Sydney Morning Herald


The following are, I believe, beyond dispute:

·          On his own testimony, the former Governor-General Bill Hayden is not – and has never been – an “avowed republican”, notwithstanding repeated republican claims. 

·          The term “head of state” is diplomatic, and thus governed by international law. As such, there is no doubt whatsoever that the Governor-General is head of state.

·          The term” head of state” does not appear in the Constitution.

·          In 1907 the High Court, consisting of founding fathers, declared unanimously, that the King (or Queen) is the sovereign, and the Governor-General is the “constitutional head of the Commonwealth.” 

.           Federal governments invariably hold out the Governor-General as Head of State  whenever he or she goes overseas on official business, and he or she is invariably  received by foreign governments and international organistions  as Head of State.

·          The Queen is not a "foreign national."

Most of these emerged in a stream of correspondence in the letters pages of The Sydney Morning Herald, which seems to have concluded that one monarchist  is worth six republicans.


…Governor-General is head of state…

(Continued below)

On 14 June  2011 David Knowles of Chittaway Bay, NSW wrote

The Herald editorial wants a referendum on the simple question of whether an Australian should be head of state. This is not needed. Quentin Bryce, our present head of state, is Australian, as were her predecessors for many years and will be her successors far into the future. The editorial further states ''all around us the urgent need to renovate the system of government we have inherited is evident''.

Yet no argument is advanced to support the need for change.Our system has served us very well, and the lynchpin of the system is the fact that at its head is the Governor-General, whose authority derives from a source outside Australian party politics.Those who believe we would be better served by an elected president should look to the other side of the Pacific Ocean. Watch in particular the fighting, divisiveness, cost and horse-trading of the election campaign which has started already although the next election is two years away.

…no holiday?..


Then on 15 June, David Davies of  Baulkham Hills  NSW wrote:

Garth Clarke makes a good point (Letters, June 14) about abolishing the midyear honours list when Australia becomes a republic.It is likely many Australians would support that view if we ever get a chance to vote in any meaningful way.The true test of support for a republic of Australia, however, will be widespread agreement that the Queen's birthday public holiday be abolished at the same time.Somehow, I don't think so.

 …reserve powers sufficient reason for change… 

On the same day, Erskineville  NSW republican reader David Farrell’s letter was published:

David Knowles (Letters, June 14) makes the usual monarchist mistakes. Our head of state is not Quentin Bryce, it's the Queen of Australia, the English monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

The Governor-General is the representative of this foreign national and can call out the army and sack an elected government, which is certainly a good enough reason for a change.

Mr Knowles claims the appointment is free of party politics but has forgotten about the appointment of both Bill Hayden (an avowed republican) and Archbishop Hollingsworth (John Howard's conservative) by the Labor and Liberal parties

.Finally, to use the American political system as an example is completely irrelevant as it has never been suggested as a model for an Australia republic.

…the facts… 

Then on 16 June my letter was published :


Bill Hayden is not "an avowed republican". He is on the record denying that he has ever declared himself to be or that he is a republican (David Farrell 15/6).

The Queen is not a "foreign national."

As for who is the "head of state ", the High Court consisting of founding fathers declared in 1907, unanimously, that the King is sovereign, and the Governor-General is the  "constitutional head of the Commonwealth.”  

“Head of state” is a diplomatic term governed by international law. As such, there is no doubt whatsoever that the Governor-General is head of state.

…the sequel…


The following day, 17 June, the Herald published six letters from republicans attempting to answer mine. Does this mean that one monarchist, one cavalier, is worth six roundheads? 

The letters  were about The Queen’s nationality and about the Head of State. These issues are essentially legal, and include a consideration of international and constitutional law. That may seem tedious, but remembe,r it is the republicans who put each one of these issues into the debate.  None of the republican letters raised anything which could rebut any of the propositions I stated. 

This does not of course mean that only lawyers who have some expertise in international law and constitutional law should enter the debate.

And in any event, I should reveal to you, dear reader, that  my expertise has been challenged.  Malcolm Turnbull declared in his book , “Fighting for the Republic”,  that Flint is “not a constitutional lawyer.”


Then on the weekend (18-19/6), the Herald letters editors, Catharine Munro and Julie Lewis, observed in their weekly comment, “Postscript” :

Most revealing in this Queen's birthday week was how high sensitivities run over who is ultimately running this country. A flurry erupted when the monarchist David Flint, supporting David Knowles of Chittaway Bay, sought to comfort those who do not like having a foreign ruler.

"The real head of state is the governor-general, an Australian, Flint assured, prompting dissent from the republicans among you. Evidence was provided: our currency, passports and, of course, the constitution all honours the Queen. They did have a point.“One bemused colleague observed that, either way, the boss is not a fella but a female.“Still in search of balance, we could have added a little baseness to our lofty offerings. The travails of the former US congressman Anthony Weiner and the puns his name offered could not be ignored, but we try to keep things above the belt.

“At any rate, the constitutional issue couldn't stay serious for too long and writers were in fierce agreement over our love of the long weekend. Our monarch might get the chop but never her holiday."

Glad to have been some help, ladies





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