The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee opened its hearings in Parramatta yesterday and Melbourne today. Most of the time was spent in appearances from selected republicans- after all the task of the Committee is to work out how to turn Australia into a republic.
Many of the republicans expounded all sorts of contorted schemes designed to keep things as theyare. The current fad seems to be to have a Council of State or Constitutional Council to control the President
who might think he has a mandate. They are right to fear this-it has happened in many a republic. Most of those who appeared seemed to want to keep the Westminster system without the Crown. But isn't the Crown an essential part of the Westminster system? Wasn't that why France failed in her long attempts to make her two Westminster republics work? Senator Bolkus criticised the ARM for not having a model republic-the ARM Chairman saying it was not their task to tell the people this. When ACM appeared Senator Bollcus asked a series of questions but in almost all cases, after only a few words, interrupted the answer with another question. We decided we would make our responses in full, notwithstanding his interruptions. The transcript should show this.
The Committee's principal difficulty will be to answer Sir Davis Smith 's submission that we already have an Australian Head of State. Obtaining a legal opinion in such an area would not normally be too difficult, but Sir David has set the bar very high. Of course, the Committee could decide to skate over or even ignorethe issue-but that would only strengthen Sir David's case. In the meantime Michael Darby has let us see hissubmission where he takes issue with the Terms of Reference, which begin with the direction to inquireinto the most appropriate process for moving towards the establishment of an Australian republic with an
Australian Head of State.
Mr Darby writes that this use of pejorative phraseology attempts to imply that there is somethingdesirable or inevitable about the establishment of a Little interest in proceedings stream :HI Republic, and moreover carries the false implication that Australia presently lacks an Australian Head of State.Republicanism, he says, is not a new phenomenon in Australia. In the 19th century the republican causeattracted the support of significant literary and political figures, but republicans were too few in number andtoo light in influence to supplant Constitutional Monarchy as the basis of our 1901 Federation. Republicanism then gradually faded for three quarters of the twentieth century. A Republican Party fielded candidates in various elections in the 1960s and early 1970s without attracting much more than the random vote. (You should be able to read his submission on the Senate site soon can see his submission on the Senate site)