The demise of our previous monarch has unleashed a veritable orgy of mass outpourings of grief, veneration and nostalgia. Media coverage has been obsequious and exaggerated. Hopefully when it all abates, we can start to seriously discuss getting this ridiculous, archaic Empire hang-over out of Orstralia. I hope I live to see it happen.
As a boy growing up here in the 60s, I had a visceral objection to the monarchy, particularly when I realised that it strangely applied to my country too. When God Save the Queen played in cinemas I would resolutely refuse to stand up and was often chipped by nearby strangers. The idea of hereditary ruling and privilege was ludicrous in the mid 20th century, even to a child, and still is today.
I didn’t use the term ‘republican’ to describe my position then, which was simply anti-monarchist, without any concern about alternative constitutional arrangements. Since then I’ve had plenty of time to reflect, that’s for sure. But rather than me stating the bleeding obvious solution, I’ll leave it to the eminent lawyer Geoffrey Robertson.
With the recent revelation that our Governor General had uncritically accepted the scurrilously unconventional nomination of PM Morrison to extra ministerial positions, Robertson concludes:
“If the governor-general is to be no more than a cipher for the prime minister, why not write him – and the royal family – out of the constitution entirely? Our elected leader could be sworn in by the chief justice – as in America – and the democratic process can be left to resolve itself according to accepted Westminster conventions subject to any necessary supervision by the High Court.”
I couldn’t have put it better myself. We don’t need a monarch or his unelected representative to oversee our affairs, and we certainly don’t need a president as replacement for ceremonial reasons. Give the ribbon-cutting stuff to the PM’s partner, for example. Get rid of the so-called reserve powers of the G-G and tidy up the constitution accordingly. The PM remains leader by nomination of his parliamentary party. That’s it, job done.
And to reiterate the point about an unnecessary president, just look at the crazy power held by both the US and French presidents. Far too much for one person! We don’t need that kind of autocratic republic. Australia can remain a modest, egalitarian society, where the ‘leader’ only keeps his job at our collective pleasure, with elected representatives nominating a first amongst equals (primus inter pares), and cabinet wielding executive power.
The monarchy must go. It’s unAustralian.