The whole republican case for change-at least on the part of the republican establishment- is that we need to spend millions more on trying to change our Constitution for just one reason, and one reason only –so that we can have the Australian Head of State. If we already have an Australian Head of State, the
official republican case collapses!
There is a growing understanding that the Governor – General fulfils this role. Queenslanders saw this recently in the Courier-Mail headline over a photograph when the Governor – General was in London. The headline read: HEAD OF STATE MEETS MONARCH. That headline says everything. It certainly says that we have an Australian Head of State. During the referendum debate, I found people were surprised that there is no standard form for a Head of State, nor indeed any consistency internationally between the functions and roles of this office.
When people realise that the concept comes from international law and diplomacy, and not constitutional law, they understand that it is up to each country to decide who is the Head of State and what he, she or they do. In our case, then, the Head of State is the person Australia expects other countries to treat as our Head of State. It is that simple. And the plain fact is that the Australian government holds out, and has long held out to other governments and to the United Nations, the Governor-General as the Australian Head of State. Mr Keating declared this in the official Directory of the Australian Government and foreign governments and the United Nations recognize him as such an observant reader has referred me to-the CIA site-which also says the
Governor – General is our Head of State that the Sovereign, the Queen of Australia, makes the appointment on the advice of Her Australian Prime Minister is part of our constitutional law. Just as the constitutional law of other states provide how the Head of State is to be chosen-by the College of Cardinals in the case of the Vatican, for example.
In addition, as Sir David Smith has argued in scholarly and well researched papers culminating in hissubmission to the current Senate investigation, the Australian approach is justified under our constitutional law which clearly vests the executive government of the Commonwealth in the Governor – General. Incidentally, Sir David is to speak on the subject: THE QUEEN, THE GOVERNOR – GENERAL AND I during The Queen's Birthday weekend, on Sunday 13 June 2004 at 2PM at The National Museum of Australia,
Canberra. Admission is free. Sir David's papers to date have provoked no detailed response from the republican establishment-apart from dismissive phrases (for example, portraying his work as arrant nonsense, as a former chief justice did)
This issue is very much the Achilles heel of the republican establishment. They only have one argument to justify change-that we need an Australian Head of State. If we have one already, just what is the point of republicans once again trying to change our constitution without creating the damage which their previous attempts would have caused. The republican establishment has no answer apart from repeating over and over their mantra – we want an Australian Head of State.