February 8

Problems with this republican model


It seems that the” Orange Revolution” which swept the pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko to power in the Ukraine in 2004 may be about to be reversed.

Mr. Yushchenko defeated Victor Yanukovych, who was vilified as a “Kremlin stooge” for the presidency, promising to bring the Ukraine into the EU and NATO and out of the Russian orbit, and to end corruption and human rights abuses.

Mr. Yanukovych seemed finished, but one year later public opinion has changed, and now he is the frontrunner in the nation’s parliamentary elections. He could become Prime Minister after the parliamentary elections on 26 March, 2006.

Imagine how difficult government would be in the US if, one year after losing to President Bush, Senator Kerry became Prime Minister, if the US had such a position. Or if one year after losing to Mr. Howard, Mr Beazley were elected President.

Only the naive could fail to see in an instant that neither event would augur well for stable government. TBeacuse of clashes between them, the government could be reduced to paralysis with drastic consequences on the economy.

There is no point saying the answer will be to codify the president’s powers. Paul Keating informed Parliament on 7 June 1995 that his government had , after careful consideration, formed the view that codification is probably "impossible".

By this the Keating government, with the involvement no doubt of Senator Evans, and of the present leader Mr. Beazley, concluded that they could not write down or codify these powers in a way that would both find general community acceptance and cover every possible contingency.

This model of a powerful President grafted onto the parliamentary system was designed for one man, Charles de Gaulle, but also because of the French failure to make either a parliamentary or a US style republic work.

It is difficult to understand why any other country would import such a model, but a number have.

This confirms my view that just about anybody can write a Constiution, but only a handful turn out to be successful over time.

To reduce the power of the president, the Ukrainian Constitution was changed this year to remove his power to appoint the Prime Minister. Parliament now elects the Prime Minister as in Germany, but the President will still retain considerable powers.

To propose such a model to replace one of the most successful constitutions in the world is a betrayal of the Australian people.

Some leading republicans – Malcolm Turnbull, Professor Greg Craven and Senator Marise Payne – warn that this model will be the one which will be put to the people, if a future parliament adopts the republican movement’s proposal to require Australians to keep on voting until they get it right.

That waste of time and money, the 2004 Senate Inquiry Report adopted this proposal to the letter. So did Mark Latham, so does Kim Beazley. The Sydney Morning Herald has rushed in to endorse it.

But as Malcolm Turnbull and Greg Craven suggest, the Australian people are not as stupid as the republican movement, some of the politicians, and the editors of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sunday Age seem to think they are.

In the meantime, the republican movement has broken with Senator Payne, Malolm Turnbull and Greg Craven. They are, at least officially, RWM- Republicans Without a Model.

They claim they don’t know which model will emerge from their two expensive plebiscites they demand the taxpayer pay for.

As Channel 7’s David Koch told the republican leader when she was promoting the failed "mate for a head of state campaign", the Australian people are not stupid.


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