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CCF [Constitutional Centenary Foundation] rejects monarchists' claims.

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Robert McClelland MP

Shadow Attorney-General

Federal Member For Barton


Contact: Simon Banks Ph: (02) 6277 4323 or 0419 638 587




The independent and impartial Constitutional Centenary Foundation has rejected three of the key arguments advanced by Monarchists for rejecting the Republic, according to the Shadow Attorney-General, Robert McClelland.


In a recently released booklet entitled Referendum on a Republic: Questions and Answers , the CCF has concluded that:

·  becoming a Republic would leave our Constitution largely unchanged;

·  the proposed dismissal procedure would leave the President "no worse off [than the Governor-General] and may be slightly better”; and

·  political pressure would ensure that the Prime Minister would not keep the President in office indefinitely.


“Three of the claims made by the Monarchists in the official ‘NO’ case are that, if Australia becomes a Republic: the Constitution will be radically altered (Reason 4) with the President beco ming the Prime Minister’s puppet (Reason 1), subject to instant dismissal and, conversely, that the Prime Minister can keep the President in office indefinitely by not agreeing to a replacement (Reason 8),” Mr McClelland said.


“However, the CCF’s sensible and balanced advice to Australians is:


Q. Would we roughly have the same Constitution?


A. Yes. The only changes to the Constitution would be those that are necessary to provide for the position of a President to replace the Queen and the Governor-General. The most important changes therefore are the sections providing for the appointment, term of office and removal of a President. Other sections give the President the same powers as the Governor-General. In addition, there would be a large number of minor changes to the Constitution to remove all references to the Queen. For example, section 64 presently refers to government ministers as “the Queen’s Ministers of State”. The word “Queen’s would be removed by the referendum.


Q. If the Prime Minister can remove the President at any time, how would the President continue to play the role of umpire?


A. The Prime Minister would be constrained in various ways from exercising a power to dismiss the President unless there was some convincing need to do so:

·  Any dismissal would have to be ratified by the House of Representatives.

·  The Prime Minister would have no control over the selection of the Acting President.

·  The Prime Minister would not be able to appoint a new President, without following the constitutional appointment procedure.


By contrast, under present arrangements, the Prime Minister alone chooses the Governor-General. The Prime Minister could effectively dismiss a Governor-General as well, although there would be some delay while the Queen received and acted on the Prime Minister’s advice. In these circumstances, to the extent that the Governor-General has an “umpire role”, it is not particularly secure. Overall, the position of the President will be no worse and may be slightly better.


Q. What happens if the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition can’t agree on who to nominate?


A. Under this proposed Republican model, it would be the constitutional duty of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to reach agreement on a nomination. If there were any delays, the previous President would continue in office or the most senior State Governor or other acting-President would take over. Both the media and the public would be likely to be very critical of political leaders who were unable to reach agreement on an issue of this kind.


“Once again, independent and impartial analysis has shown that the Monarchists are not telling Australians the truth about the Republican model on offer in November.


“The CCF’s booklet is entirely consistent with the conclusions of the bipartisan Joint Select Committee on the Republic Referendum, which concluded that becoming a Republic would not change Australia’s representative system of government.


“All of the Monarchists’ arguments are designed to do only one thing and that is to hide the one simple question that they do not want to answer: why don’t the Monarchists think an Australian is good enough to be our Head of State?”



A copy of the CCF’s booklet can be obtained off the Internet at:


8 October 1999


lk  1999-10-13  12:04