August 8

Philip Adams against republican movement’s choice


Philip Adams, 2005 Republican of the Year, seems to have come out against the republican model in which a president is elected by the people. In a column in The Australian on 7 August 2007 he writes: “[Prime Minister]… Howard opposes a republic. Even more, he opposes the punters' preferred model. No one in our political system is elected in a national vote. The PM is chosen by his party, not by us. The idea of a head of state being popularly elected will never be happily endorsed by an incumbent PM, for fear the figurehead would be too formidable. God knows even a crusading governor-general such as Bill Deane was bad enough.”    This puts Mr. Adams at odds with the republican movement.  While pretending they do not have a preferred model, the movement has designed a convoluted and expensive process which conservative republicans fear will result  in this model being the one which is put to the people in a referendum.(See this column, 8 December, 2004) The Leader of HM’s Opposition, Mr Rudd, who continues to outsource Labor’s policy on this to the declining republican movement, says he is “relatively relaxed” about this model. (See this  column, 30 January, 2006.)

It was curious to find that Mr. Adams now criticises Sir William Deane. I cannot recall his dissent when the press gallery used to  Sir William as a saintly contrast to the Prime Minister on indigenous affairs.  As Governor-General, Sir William was criticised in conservative circles for his interventions in this policy area. As we mentioned in this column on 13 July 2001, it was with some surprise that the then ultra republican newspaper, The Australian, also criticised him towards the end of his term, saying he had exceeded the constitutional limitations on his office. Sir William unwisely justified much of this sort of criticism when, soon after the end of his term, he made a stinging public attack on the government.
Representatives of the Crown have in The Queen the model which they must follow if they are to discharge their duties properly. It is pleasing to see that the present Governor-General, Major-General Jeffery, has carefully ensured that the office of Governor-General remains, and is seen to be, above politics. 



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