This is a simple formula which is universally applicable. Having a constitution which provides for both a president and a prime minister, with any meaning or power in either office, is a recipe for at least instability and potentially, bloody chaos. Yet this is precisely the secret goal of the republican movement in its demand that this or some future Australian government engage in a convoluted and extremely expensive series of plebiscites and referenda which have been specifically designed for one purpose, and one purpose only, to deceive the Australian people into throwing out one of the world’s most successful constitutions.
Remember that this plan was actually endorsed, at considerable public expense, by a Senate committee majority in 2004. The senators must have had second thoughts about the rubbish they were endorsing that they then released it at precisely the moment when it would be ignored by most of the media. Remember too that it was also adopted by the Hon. Mark Latham MHR when he was the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Australian Opposition, having affirmed or sworn allegiance to the Australian Crown on several occasions. Mr. Latham was so delighted that he pledged to cram the three federal votes into an impossibly short period of time by having one plebiscite or referendum each year of his first term. In fact, a Latham government would have had little else to do!
We now have a living example of the chaos this sort of constitution produces. This is in the tragedy which has befallen East Timor. The Fretilin marxist Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri, has been accused of arranging the murder of opponents, and the President Xanana Gusmao has been trying to have him removed. Australian and other troops have been called in to quieten the bloody disorder. But because he does not enjoy the reserve powers of the Governor-General, the President cannot dismiss the Prime Minister. Exasperated by a constitution Australia warned against, but which Her Majesty’s Shadow Australian Attorney-General ms Nicola Roxon evidently prefers over ours, the President recently threatened to resign if the Prime Minister did not go . But hordes of demonstrators then charged into the streets, French style, demanding the President stay. So at the moment of writing he is still there, staying at the call of the mob, just as Gamul Abdul Nasser did when crowds drummed up by his party called on him to renounce his resignation.
Ah, the theatricality of republics. }
This is not constitutional government, it is anarchy. One of our readers, Brian Handley, prescribed a sensible solution in a letter to the Australian press. He wrote:
The current political crisis in East Timor is so dire, that Australia needs to broaden its current policing only role, to that of seeking a UN mandate to actually govern the country, at least in the short term. The current death squad allegations against Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri are so serious and credible that this political crisis must be solved quickly and clearly the Marxist Alkatiri is not about to resign. Moreover, this crisis highlights just how flawed the East Timor constitution is. What they need is an Australian model governor with the reserve powers to sack the Prime Minister and order fresh elections, in this case internationally conducted and supervised.
Now that is sound advice indeed.
We reported recently in our column of 9 June, 2006(“Leading republican politician prefers Timor's constitution to Australia's!” ) that at a Canberra function of the republican movement, it was admitted that the restoration of the monarchy was in fact proposed for Iraq on the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. After all, under the Hashemite monarchy, which also reigns in Jordan, governments changed peaceably and the people were free to criticise the authorities. But when the murderers and thugs seized power and massacred almost all members of the Royal Family, including women and children – the palace was guarded by only one sentry, Iraq fell under a series of brutal republican dictators culminating with Saddam Hussein.
At that Canberra republican function, it was claimed that constitutional monarchy was proposed neither for Afghanistan nor for Timor. Not so.
As to Afghanistan, a well informed European reader writes:
“My understanding always was that the US used ( King) Zahir Shah to summon the Loyah Jirgah (Grand Council) to unite the warlords and tribes and decide on formation of a government. In the course of the extremely delicate negotiations leading up to, and resulting from, the convening of the Council, HM met great numbers of 'traditional' Afghanis, who expressed loyalty to and affection for their former King, and it became evident there was considerable, perhaps majority, support for his restoration. This was not supposed to happen! The US therefore applied pressure on Karzai and other politicians to form an administration without a role for the King – except the empty title of 'Father of the Nation'.”
And as for East Timor, Michael Darby, the Sydney commentator, activist and poet, actually went to the trouble of designing a constitution which would have avoided the present malaise. This can be found at http://michaeldarby.net/EastTimor.pdf
In the meantime, the Canberra Times has published the following letter from Sir David Smith :
“Labor's shadow attorney-general, Nicola Roxon, was reported ("Roxon throws down monarchy model challenge", Sunday Canberra Times, June 4) as telling an Australian Republican Movement dinner in Canberra that East Timor was better served by being a republic and by having Xanana Gusmao rather than Sir John Kerr to restore order. Excuse me? I know I was preoccupied with other matters on 11 November 1975 but I don't recall gun fire in the streets; rampaging mobs wandering the streets armed with guns, knives and machetes; people being butchered and mutilated; homes, shops and government buildings ransacked and looted and burned to the ground; and foreign troops being invited in to restore order.
Nicola Roxon is perfectly entitled to argue for Australia to change its system of government to a republic, but she should spare us the humbug of suggesting that the system of government in East Timor is an example we should follow.”
As usual, Sir David brings some reality to the republican camp. Imagine suggesting to rank and file Australians that we should throw out our constitutional system and follow East Timor’s example.