Politics Should Australia become a Republic?

Should Australia become a Republic?

  • YES

    Votes: 76 63.3%
  • NO

    Votes: 44 36.7%

  • Total voters
    120

Remove this Banner Ad

tandino

Brownlow Medallist
Mar 16, 2007
12,346
9,500
Showers Stand
AFL Club
Essendon
You call the entire history of democracy 'very little'? Name me one single long-standing democratic state - existing or defunct - where the head of state is chosen (rather than hereditary), but does not receive a mandate from the people to fulfil that role.
San Marino is one such example. Oldest republic in the world, Democracy since the 1600's and Head(s) of State selected by the Parliament since the 13th Century.

Just incidentally, I'm in your boat on this one. My view on all this is that a President should be elected in a democratic process, and should not be subservient to Parliament, but the fear in what that may lead to leads me to think that the status quo serves us pretty well.
 

Log in to remove this ad.

Caesar

Ex-Huckleberry
Mar 3, 2005
27,296
13,099
Tombstone, AZ
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
San Marino is one such example. Oldest republic in the world, Democracy since the 1600's and Head(s) of State selected by the Parliament since the 13th Century.
That's a good point, I'd completely forgotten about them. But to be fair, a country that is significantly smaller and less populous than most Australian local government areas is probably not a great model.

EDIT: Just reading up on it on Wikipedia - their method of government is incredibly fascinating. I vaguely knew it was based on the Roman Republic but I had no idea it was such a unique political structure.
 

tandino

Brownlow Medallist
Mar 16, 2007
12,346
9,500
Showers Stand
AFL Club
Essendon
Switzerland is another such country, which surprised me. Not so much for their continuity (because Napoleon was in there for a while undertaking his usual hijinks) but because for a country that has embraced direct democracy ideals almost like no other, their head of state (in this case, a seven-member council) is elected by the Parliament and the Parliament alone.

If you eliminate all the basketcases and those countries who have become a republic in relatively recent history (100 or so years), genuine examples of what we are talking about are very thin on the ground. I'm almost sure that Australia wouldn't embrace such a system.
 

Subprime

Premiership Player
Sep 27, 2007
3,967
442
Ether
AFL Club
Collingwood
....
Saying "hey, Ireland goes alright, that's proof enough" when they've only been a republic for 60 years is an incredibly dangerous way to think. A constitution designed to stand for centuries needs more a circumspect approach.
So what's a fair sample period in your opinion?

Obviously the 60-odd years where the Irish President's power hasn't moved an iota isn't enough.
 

jonoman89

Brownlow Medallist
Aug 3, 2007
10,213
404
AFL Club
Carlton
So what's a fair sample period in your opinion?

Obviously the 60-odd years where the Irish President's power hasn't moved an iota isn't enough.
As many of us have stated, the US repbulican system has changed quite dramatically. Hit up wikipedia. It's a very real suggestion that what we put in a constitution now would not lead to a society we really wanted.

The legal and societal hurdle of creating an Australian republic is much more than symbolic.
 

Subprime

Premiership Player
Sep 27, 2007
3,967
442
Ether
AFL Club
Collingwood
As many of us have stated, the US repbulican system has changed quite dramatically. Hit up wikipedia. It's a very real suggestion that what we put in a constitution now would not lead to a society we really wanted.

The legal and societal hurdle of an Australian republic is much more than symbolic.
The USA has been going for 230-odd years and they still have a President who holds broad executive power, a congress of 2 houses and a supreme court. The last couple of years of 2 term Presidents are still referred to as the 'lame duck' period and so on.

Its also not the system proposed for Australia.
 

jonoman89

Brownlow Medallist
Aug 3, 2007
10,213
404
AFL Club
Carlton
Its also not the system proposed for Australia.
That's not the point. Its the fact that consitutional frameworks are fluid. Even the most rigid ones in the world have changed, gradually, to alter the intended balance of power. Including the USA.

I think Australia has shown itself to be very pro-altering consitutions. We have a pretty lengthy history of it happening. Would be a fair assessment to say it could very well happen again.
 

tandino

Brownlow Medallist
Mar 16, 2007
12,346
9,500
Showers Stand
AFL Club
Essendon
Actually, I think Australia is extremely conservative in relation to altering it's constitution. Only 8 have gotten up and proposals that you would think would be a home run have not succeeded.
 

(Log in to remove this ad.)

jonoman89

Brownlow Medallist
Aug 3, 2007
10,213
404
AFL Club
Carlton
Actually, I think Australia is extremely conservative in relation to altering it's constitution. Only 8 have gotten up and proposals that you would think would be a home run have not succeeded.
Referenda aren't the only way to change the framework. The most significant changes to the Constitutional landscape were made my HCA judges, not the Australian people.

It's the interpretation and malleability of the instrument as a whole which is the most important thing. Even "air-tight" wording can be prone to changes in meaning, much like any other phrase in the English language. That can be seen as a positive or negative, it's all in the eye of beholder.
 

Teffy

Norm Smith Medallist
Suspended
May 6, 2011
5,694
38
Norf
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
The Crutchy Push
Actually, I think Australia is extremely conservative in relation to altering it's constitution. Only 8 have gotten up and proposals that you would think would be a home run have not succeeded.
Hell no!

Referendums are usually held to further empower governments.
 

Caesar

Ex-Huckleberry
Mar 3, 2005
27,296
13,099
Tombstone, AZ
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
So what's a fair sample period in your opinion?

Obviously the 60-odd years where the Irish President's power hasn't moved an iota isn't enough.
Any democratic system that's been in existence longer than living memory?

Power shifts don't happen overnight, they happen very gradually over hundreds of years and in response to events that are very hard to predict. I am sure that the Roman Republic looked rock-solid after 60 years too.

We have the great fortune to possess a system that inherently protects us from the risk of the head of state - the guardian of dangerous reserve powers - accumulating too much power. In any democratic system that is the greatest risk. We shouldn't throw away that inherent protection lightly.
 

Wallaby

Norm Smith Medallist
May 8, 2007
9,812
13,104
vic
AFL Club
Richmond
To be honest, I'm not that fussed either way. The Republican Referendum bunfight in the 90s made me very cynical of the entire political process and people's motives for embracing or rejecting change.

The head of State's role is to open fetes and wave the flag a bit. Yes, they do keep an eye on the parliament to make sure they don't get completely out of control (as in 75) - I guess most people would be happy to have a sensible grandma in that role (like we do now). Unfortunately it also means we may get the occasional loony tree-hugger like Charles - oh well.

If the Queen did turn around and demand Australia do something that the parliament and the people of Australia disagreed with, we would just ignore her.
 

tandino

Brownlow Medallist
Mar 16, 2007
12,346
9,500
Showers Stand
AFL Club
Essendon
Referenda aren't the only way to change the framework. The most significant changes to the Constitutional landscape were made my HCA judges, not the Australian people.

It's the interpretation and malleability of the instrument as a whole which is the most important thing. Even "air-tight" wording can be prone to changes in meaning, much like any other phrase in the English language. That can be seen as a positive or negative, it's all in the eye of beholder.
That is true, of course.

I've always felt that the High Court has an important role in interpreting Constitutional issues, but should stay well clear of taking on a reformist agenda. True constitutional reform is a matter for the voting public. It isn't for the High Court to undertake constitutional reform, and it certainty isn't the role for parliamentary members either.

You had this absolutely fanciful situation last year when Oakeshott was pinning for the Speaker role.

ROB OAKESHOTT: Well, that's right! Unfortunately on this specific item - and there's 22 separate items in this reform agreement - on this specific item it doesn't look like due diligence was done by other parties. I am confident from my advice that it stacks up in regards to Section 40, so long as - and this is the critical factor - so long as there is goodwill and agreement from all members. And from the meeting today there is obvious tension still alive. And therefore from my position, in light of that, you know, it's a step too far for this independent to go for that Speaker's spot.
i.e, It would not be against the constitution, as long as we make sure that nobody challenges it.

We should be running away from that sort of stuff at a million miles an hour.
 

Teffy

Norm Smith Medallist
Suspended
May 6, 2011
5,694
38
Norf
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
The Crutchy Push
That is true, of course.

I've always felt that the High Court has an important role in interpreting Constitutional issues, but should stay well clear of taking on a reformist agenda.
The High Court cannot avoid taking on a reformist role as a part of it's role is to dismiss unconstitutional legislation and interpret international treaties in relation to domestic legislation. It is an unavoidabe situation.

True constitutional reform is a matter for the voting public.
Agree, but only via section 128 of the constitution, not the parliament.

It isn't for the High Court to undertake constitutional reform, and it certainty isn't the role for parliamentary members either.
The High Court doesn't do that, unfortunately, the Parliament does it regularly, and without the direct consent of the people.

i.e, It would not be against the constitution, as long as we make sure that nobody challenges it.

We should be running away from that sort of stuff at a million miles an hour.
Agree, but in reality, unconstitutional legislation can remain active for years before it is challenged and deemed unconstitutional.
 

Clay Davis

Brownlow Medallist
Sep 16, 2006
19,991
1,855
ge
AFL Club
Fremantle
You call the entire history of democracy 'very little'? Name me one single long-standing democratic state - existing or defunct - where the head of state is chosen (rather than hereditary), but does not receive a mandate from the people to fulfil that role.

The idea that a republic founded on popular sovereignty would not have a HOS selected by the people is an anathema. It's why they don't exist - or if they do exist, they tend to be very shortlived.

The shortsightedness of so many people on this topic is frightening. If you're setting up a constitution, two things are fatal - not taking heed of history, and assuming everyone will approach things with the same frame of reference you do.

Saying "hey, Ireland goes alright, that's proof enough" when they've only been a republic for 60 years is an incredibly dangerous way to think. A constitution designed to stand for centuries needs more a circumspect approach.
You're ignoring history yourself. The head of state for the England and the broader British Empire has hardly been stable itself over its history. Stability lasts only so long as the current head of state, which for Elizabeth II has been remarkably stable, but that is also true of the politics of most Anglosphere countries post war. It was as recently as within many people's lifetimes that a Nazi sympathising King abdicated. Things can change.
 

JoondalupJ

Brownlow Medallist
Oct 9, 2006
12,827
4,801
Perth
AFL Club
Hawthorn
Other Teams
Perth Wildcats basketball
A Head of State and a Vice-Regal Representative are two very different things. It is accepted that we don't get a big say in the GG primarily because the GG is first and foremost the representative of the Queen, not us.

Call him what you want, I doubt people would be willing to accept a Head of State appointed under the current arrangements for the GG. If you were lucky you might get it past the initial referendum, but sooner or later there would be a demand for them to be appointed by mandate.

Once the HOS receives a mandate from the people, then you start to have problems. There is little conflict between the Crown and the PM precisely because only one of them can legitimately claim the backing of popular sovereignty.
Exactly. Thats why we stay as we are and call it what you like. When we start fighting over who runs the place then we are in the poo.
Our system allows for a single authority to remove the government in extreme circumstances, its safe and stable and why whether you have Gillard or Abbott
they can never become overlords.
Ask Mr Howard about having too much control in the senate.
Then look at workchoices and 2007 when Mr Howard lost his seat, I think he was a man
with beliefs and honesty , but he went a step too far and the people put him out.
Our system also allows a GG or president to remove a Govt that may ruin our nation.
See its safe.
 

Remove this Banner Ad

Remove this Banner Ad