President Obama has warned (London Daily Telegraph, 29 July) that if the supply crisis in the United States was not solved by Tuesday the United States could lose its prized AAA credit rating “...because we did not have a triple-A political system to match.”
Now the American Constitution has its attractions. While it is very much a politicians’ republic, it is at least one with effective checks and balances, unlike the two highly flawed models proposed by Australia's republican establishment at the 1998 Constitutional Convention.
It is stable but it suffers from rigidities not present in our Westminster system.
…impeachment paralyses the government and congress..
The President is extremely difficult to remove and doesn't go when he assured. The case concerning President Nixon is the best-known example.
Think of how quickly a Prime Minister or Premier can go under our system.
…President not responsible….
As I wrote in one of the ACM’s referendum campaign books, The Cane Toad Republic, the action taken after President Kennedy's failed invasion of Cuba – the Bay of Pigs fiasco – is another less well known example of this flaw in the American system.
The President succinctly explained this to the deputy director of the CIA:“ If this were the British government, I would resign and you, being a civil servant would remain… “But it isn't. In our government, you…have to go and I have to remain.”
…supply dries up, government closes down…
Another example is the denial of supply which at the time of writing may well be about to happen in the United States. Whether or not it happens this time , it has happened before and will no doubt happen again.
In Australia a denial of supply is a political crisis, not a constitutional crisis.
The Australian constitution provides the answer – refer the issue to the final judge, the people as in 1975.
The same is true in relation to illegal acts by the head of government as in the Watergate affair. It is in the reserve powers of the Crown.
During another denial of supply years ago an American woman who found her embassy closed and the US government unable to service the needs.
She famously declared to the Australian media there:
“What we need in the United States is …a Governor-General.”