Australia needs less political conflict, not more.
Paul Keating once famously said if you don’t understand it, don’t vote for it.
Peter FitzSimons should have taken the advice of his fellow republican before releasing an incomprehensible model to radically change our system of government.
The Australian Republican Movement head wants a referendum on replacing the Queen and our Governor General with a quasi-elected president with different powers.
Any elected president will of course immediately politicise our head of state, setting up competing power centres at The Lodge and Yarralumla in Canberra.
The genius of our current system is that the Governor General is not involved in politics, does not need to solicit votes and has reserve powers which work very effectively on the rare occasions they are needed to break a deadlock.
Fitzsimons’ latest plan is for state politicians to vet 11 presidential candidates for ordinary voters to choose from.
Apart from insulting us with the notion that our betters must decide who is worthy for us to vote for, this model opens the door to the politicisation of our head of state.
The epicentre of Australian politics must be the parliament. We do not need an American-style White House in the grounds of the Yarralumla golf course, otherwise known as the Royal Canberra Golf Club.
An elected President would of course be elected on a platform.
What if he or she ran on “climate change” or some other woke cause that may or may not be in conflict with the government of the day?
Sure, Prince Charles is a bit woke but our GG’s have a fine tradition of staying out of the day to day issues and perform their important ceremonial roles with grace and dignity.
Philip Benwell, the chair of the of the Australian Monarchist League points out:
» Only the politicians will be allowed to select nominees for election. This means that control will be in the hands of the Labor Party and the Coalition as they control the State & Federal parliaments.
» An elected president could easily be dismissed by a joint sitting of Parliament with a 50% +1 vote meaning that a president would think twice about opposing the aspirations of the government.
» The president will be mainly restricted to ceremonial duties with limited authority. This means that there will be more power in the hands of politicians.
» Electing a president means giving him or her a greater mandate than that of the government. The president will have been elected as president by the people whereas the Prime Minister would not have been elected as Prime Minister. This could lead to a political crisis if the views and objectives of a president clash with those of the government.
FitzSimons’ latest attempt to upend our system of government is a recipe for instability and it will create further layers of political conflict.
Let’s keep the Crown.
Lyle Shelton is Director of Campaigns and Communications for the Christian Democratic Party. To keep in touch with Lyle and the CDP, sign up here.