Friday, 4 January 2013

Media's Interpretation of "Head of State"

Last year, Channel Nine's 60 Minute show screened "The Good Wife" - a story about the anti-feminist crusader Samantha Brick.

In that story, Liam Bartlett used the phrase "Head of State" when asking a question of feminist Germaine Greer in respect of an earlier comment about the Prime Minister's bottom that Miss Greer had made on the ABC's Q&A programme. Liam's question was in the context of a discussion about the Prime Minister and, therefore, inferred that the Prime Minister is Australia's Head of State as did Miss Greer as well in respect of David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

An extract from the relevant part of the THE GOOD WIFE transcript follows:
GERMAINE: Can we just work this one out? Do they open doors or shut them? First of all she says oh, I’m being discriminated against ‘cause I’m so lovely. Now she says I’ve used my looks to get where I am. Just shut up, Samantha, for God’s sake. 
LIAM BARTLETT: Something Germaine herself significantly failed to do when the temptation to be bitchy was dangled before her - in the shape of the Prime Minister’s posterior. 
GERMAINE: You’ve got a big arse, Julia. Just get over it.
LIAM BARTLETT: I mean, you’ve been guilty of it yourself - critiquing people on the basis of their physical attributes - when you were talking about the Prime Minister’s bottom.
GERMAINE: I wasn’t talking about her backside, I was talking about her jacket. 
LIAM BARTLETT: You were talking about the size of her bum.
GERMAINE: I said “so you’ve got a big arse, get on with it.” Most of us have big arses. 
LIAM BARTLETT: Can you imagine a bloke saying that about a head of state, talking about their backside? Can you imagine a bloke getting away with that? That’s exactly what Samantha Brick’s talking about. 
GERMAINE: You can say whatever you like about a head of state. Have you see the cartoons of David Cameron as a condom?
An extract from the relevant part of the THE GOOD WIFE 60 Minute story follows:

Interestingly, the phrase "Head of State" is not mentioned anywhere in the Australian Constitution. Nor is that phrase mentioned in two outriding constitutional documents - The Statute of Westminster 1931 and the Australia Act 1986. The Prime Minister may be referred to as the "Head of Government" but never as "Head of State".

But Liam Bartlett is not the only reporter in the media who has made this mistake. Hellen Dalley made a similar inference in respect of John Howard on the Nine Network's Sunday progam, and which later aired on Sky News on Sunday, 16 March 2003.

In the following movie Helen Dalley implied that John Howard was a Head of State:

It's a pity that such high standing reporters do not fully understand our system of Government. Then again, most in the media are of the belief that we actually elect our Prime Minister - another furphy pushed onto the Australian people!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Harold Scruby Is On The Flag Case Again!

The silly season still continues.

Harold Scruby of Ausflag (and the Pedestrian Council) is back again on his old boring push for a change to the design of the Australian flag.

He says that our current flag is not Australian! Sorry Mr Scruby, you're wrong! The Australian flag was designed in Australia by Australians and was chosen as a result of a competition. While the flag didn't have any legal status for about 50 years, the design was approved by King Edward VII in 1902. Queen Elizabeth the Queen of Australia subsequently gave Royal Assent to the Flags Act on 14 February 1954 during her first visit to Australia which, incidentally, was also the first visit to Australia by a reigning monarch.

The cover of the Flags Act on which Queen Elizabeth II gave Royal Assent
Mr Scruby has indicated that it is an embarrassment that Fiji will change its national flag before Australia and that it is embarrassing that Fiji has beaten us (Australia) to it.  He also thinks that it is disappointing that a country like Fiji has got so much more vision than a country like Australia.

Well Mr Scruby, Fiji is no longer in the Commonwealth of Nations and is a republic and, therefore, has every right to change its flag. It is of no business to us what Fiji does with its flag.

Watch what Harold Scruby had to say about the Australian National Flag on Channel 7's Today Tonight programme on Friday, 13 December 2002.

Maybe it would be better if Mr Scruby just worried about the safety of pedestrians than worry himself for the rest of his life trying to change the Australian Flag. 

For further information about the Australian National Flag go to the following Link:

Don't forget that the Flags Amendment Act assented to on 24 March 1998 requires that if there is to be any change to the existing flag it cannot be changed without a vote of the people in each State and Territory and that the existing Australian National Flag and a new flag or flags would now be required to be submitted to the people. A majority of all the electors voting is now required to either retain the existing flag or change to a new flag.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Hawke's Nest Fouled

It really still is the silly season!

So after his visit to one of those funky festivals during the Christmas/New Year period, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke has come to the conclusion that the states should be abolished. Bob Hawke, for one, should well know that getting a referendum up is not an easy task. Mr Hawke organised two referenda in 1984 and four referenda in 1988. The people of Australia delivered a big fat NO to all six of the Hawke sponsored referenda.

Furthermore, his desire for a "stateless" Australia will have a higher benchmark for approval. Normally, approval by a majority of people Australia-wide (including the territories) and approval of a majority of people in a majority of states (not including the territories) is required to get a referendum up.

However, the penultimate paragraph of section 128 of the constitution, which deals with the way in which the constitution is altered, states:
No alteration diminishing the proportionate representation of any State in either House of the Parliament, or the minimum number of representatives of a State in the House of Representatives, or increasing, diminishing, or otherwise altering the limits of the State, or in any manner affecting the provisions of the Constitution in relation thereto, shall become law unless the majority of the electors voting in that State approve the proposed law.
What this means, is that the second part of the "double banger" requirement for referenda would require a majority of people in all of the six states rather than approval of just a majority of people in a majority of states.  This is hardly the road to travel unless you had something else up you sleeve to make constitutional change.

Now, Mr Hawke oversaw the the introduction of the Australia Acts (UK and Commonwealth) back in 1985-86. Section 15 (1) of both of the Australia Acts allows for the Federal Parliament, with the concurrence of the six state parliaments, to repeal or amend the Australia Acts and the Statute of Westminster. Section 8 of the Statute of Westminster denies the Federal Parliament from amending or repealing the Constitution Act of the Commonwealth of Australia or the Australian Constitution itself.

Queen Elizabeth II signs her Assent on 2 March 1986 to the Proclamation to bring the Australia Act into operation both in Britain and throughout Australia. With the Queen at Government House, Canberra, were David Reid, Secretary to the Executive Council (left) and Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
Given that Section 15(1) of the the Australia Acts allows for the repeal or amendment of the Statute of Westminster, their is a strong view that the Constitution Act and/or the Constitution could be amended or repealed without a referendum.

The late Richard McGarvie (former judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria and former Governor of Victoria) believed that the Australian Parliament, at the request of or with the concurrence of all the State Parliaments, can now amend or repeal the Constitution Act or The Constitution.   This assertion is confirmed in Mr McGarvie's book "DEMOCRACY - choosing Australia's republic".

So is this your agenda Mr Hawke?

The Australian people wouldn't be wanting what Mr Hawke is having anytime in the future!
That said, and if there is an extant need to reduce the amount of governance within Australia then how about this proposal using New South Wales as an example.

Currently, there are 50 federal electoral divisions for the state of New South Wales. What the New South Wales government could to do is to reduce its number of electoral districts to 50 and align the boundaries of those districts with the federal electoral division boundaries - this would reduce the number of NSW politicians by 43!

Additionally, the number of councils could also be reduced to 50 with their boundaries also aligned with the federal division boundaries. The NSW constitution should also be altered to allow for specific roles for councils e.g. roads, rubbish, libraries etc. Councils should not be allowed to make laws or resolutions on international and national matters.

The number of state electoral districts and councils would increase/decrease in number in conjunction with any change to the number of federal divisions. The other states may need a different formulae.

Oh for a hasty retreat from the silly season!