Dr Anne Twomey is to speak at an ACM function on 20 August,2007 in Melbourne about her book “The Chameleon Crown: The Queen and Her Australian Governors.” Although it has been little reviewed in the mainline media (I mention a significant new review below) it reveals for the first time precisely how our constitutional system was brought home in 1986. Had this been known at the time of the 1999 referendum it could have had a significant effect on the result. Dr Twomey lays bare the wheeling and dealing of high politics, with Whitlam, Murphy, Wran, Fraser and Hawke playing central roles.
Most of us thought Australia was fully independent by some time during the Second World War at the latest, but the fact is that our politicians so mistrusted one another that important functions were still left to British ministers as late as 1986. While we assumed this was a mere formality, Dr Twomey reveals the startling fact that as long as we wanted the British to have these powers, they were determined to exercise them conscientiously and independently – and certainly not as mere letterboxes for the Premiers. This is no dull law book – it is an exciting account of something the politicians preferred to keep from us.
Apart from The Australian, the book has been ignored by most of the media, notwithstanding their once great interest in constitutional change. One review came as a surprise to me. It is in the current edition of Canadian Monarchist News, les Nouvelles Monarchique du Canada , Summer,2007, Number 26. This journal is published by the Monarchist League of Canada. It is a substantial review,written by someone with an intimate knowledge of these things – Sir David Smith. Sir David has given permission for this to be posted to the ACM site, where it is now available