April 11

Our Head of State


The sole strategy of republicans is to call for an Australian Head of State. If it can be shown that we already have one in our Governor-General, their whole strategy is destroyed. It also destroys the need for the ALP/Australian Republican Movement’s proposed non-binding, costly and irresponsible, plebiscite ‘to establish support for an Australian Head of State". Especially as it lacks any model to replace our existing Constitution.

 Here is the reasoning:

 1. Fifteen editions of the Commonwealth Government Directory – The Official Guide, from August 1992 to March 1997, described the Governor-General’s function officially thus: ‘He is the Head of State".

2. That no valid reason for its seemingly unauthorised removal on 16 December 1996 by Deputy Official Secretary Carol Summerhayes has been produced.

3. That the publication to which we were referred by republican Professor George Winterton, the respected Constitutional expert and appointed delegate to the 1998 Constitutional Convention,:

 From ‘The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Institutions’ the world authority on these matters by Vernon Bogdanor from Oxford offers the following:

– a. ‘According to the WESTMINSTER MODEL, the HEAD OF STATE appoints the party leader most capable of securing the confidence of parliament.’ (p.269) Comment: In Australia, our Governor-General appoints the party leader (the Prime Minister). The Queen, not being Head of State has no such function.

– b. The Head of State, usually a MONARCH or president, is the person to whom foreign envoys present their credentials.’ (p.270) Comment: In Australia’s case such credentials are always presented to our Australian Governor-General – our Australian Head of State, not to a ‘Monarch or President’.

 c. ‘In federal parliamentary systems there may be state governors (as in Australia and India) or provincial lieutenant-governors (as in Canada) who also act in normal times as formal Heads of State.’ (p.271)

Comment: So it is unchallengeable that:

(i) our Australian Head of State is the Governor-General, and

(ii) that our State Governors are also Heads of their own State. This was further confirmed by NSW Premier, Mr Bob Carr, in a speech to Parliament farewelling Governor Samuels when he said ‘the Governor is the Head of State in NSW’ (NSW Hansard 28 February 2001 page 12026). Therefore logically it is unarguable that all State Governors are Head of State in their own State.

 4. The Concise Encyclopedia of Australia says ‘The Governor General…is the Head of State’.

 5. Sir David Smith, a person of unequalled experience in this matter, provides ‘incontrovertible evidence of the fact that we have an Australian Head of State and that it is the Governor-General.’

6. That the Hon. Richard McGarvie, former Justice of the Victorian Supreme Court, former Governor of Victoria and a senior appointee to the 1998 Con Con in Canberra describes the Governor-General as ‘the operative Head of State’.

7. That, when representing Australia abroad, our Governor-General always travels as, and is accepted as, Head of State. This is always as is expected by our Government.

8. Even ARM Chair Greg Barns, in the Australian 10 April 2001, agrees the Governor-General is our Head of State – 6 times!


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