Sunday, 25 April 2004


The current Senate inquiry into an Australian Republic, headed up by half a dozen of our elected public servants, has failed to present an even balance from both sides of the republican debate.

To date, 28 of the 33 participants who have aired their views before the committee at a raft of public hearings in each of the state capitals (except Brisbane) are republican. Accordingly, the committee has shown a distinct reluctance to listen to anyone who opposes the introduction of an Australian republic. This will only result in a biased finding by the committee.

That said, there has been one positive result emerging from the hearing and that is that there needs to be better education about our constitutional arrangements. Not only do the people of Australia need to have better access to accurate material relating to our constitution but so do our elected public servants if some of the comments from the hearings are any guide.

At the Adelaide hearing on 19 May, Natasha Stott-Despoja posed the following question to one of the participants "Am I a subject of the Queen?". Fortunately, the person to whom she was posing the question put her on the right track. Had the Senator read and understood the Australian constitution she would have known that we are all subjects of the Queen as section 117 of the constitution asserts. Further, Gibbs CJ in the "Pochi v Macphee" case found that "The Allegiance which Australians owe to Her Majesty is owed not as British subjects but as subjects of the Queen of Australia" further confirms the constitutional reality.

It is a pity that the Senator does not understand our constitution but then again wasn't she the person who turned Canada into a republic by just moving her lips a few years back?

With the Darwin and Townsville hearings still to be undertaken at the end of June one wonders what other gems may come out of the hearings. Maybe a short sojourn in the warmer climes during the southern winter cold will help move things along.

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