Passionate republican Len Liddelow says republicans haven't set a model because they "are fiercely democratic". Here is his suggestion.
Much has been written and said by monarchists and others that republicans do not have a model for an Australian Republic. There is no doubt that a major part of the reason for this is that, contrary to what monarchists would have everyone believe, republicans are fiercely democratic and thereby try too hard to accommodate everyone and allow them to have input into this most important question.
The time has now come for Republicans to finalise a model and say to all Australians, this is what will work and this is what we are proposing. To get the ball rolling here is a simple, politically foolproof, completely workable model that importantly can be easily understood by the Australian people.(My sincere apologies to anyone who may feel their own models may have been infringed upon; please feel free to come forward with any grievances.)
My model has four basic principles which I will list now and explain in detail later.
First, with the exception of the necessary cosmetic and other changes to our constitution to implement a Republic, the original intent, meaning, and wording of our constitution would not be changed.
Second, the Australian people will elect our Head of State.
Third, all reserve powers including the power to dismiss a prime minister will be transferred to the High Court, but the High Court cannot act alone.
Fourth, the duties of our Head of State will be listed, ceremonial and of vigilant guardianship, with no power to dismiss a prime minister.
These four principles will be completely workable and foolproof.
Now for the details.
First, regarding our constitution, we all know it is over 100 years old and is certainly no literary or legal masterpiece. Nevertheless it is now well understood by our High Court, Parliament, and States, and has served this country extremely well. In fact, whilst monarchists will try to have us believe the monarchy keeps this country together, the real truth is our very own constitution is the major reason for our stability.(Our forefathers should be given full credit that.)Whilst trying to establish a Republic it would be detrimental, foolhardy and ridiculous to muddy the waters by saying our constitution needs to be changed. It does not.
Second, appointing our Head of State. There is no doubt part of the reason Australians will vote for a Republic is if they can elect our Head of State. This model provides that any Australian citizen, organization, or Parliament can nominate a naturalised candidate; however there would be a nomination fee of say $20,000 simply to eliminate crackpots and too many candidates. The elections would be held in conjunction with Federal elections and the term would be the life of two Parliaments.
After that, the current Head of State could re-nominate free along with any other nominations if he or she so wished. In the event a Head of State dying or retiring during a term, Parliament, by a two thirds majority, could elect a replacement from the previous nominees. However, that replacement would need to face an election along with any other nominees at the very next elections.
Nominees would not be allowed to campaign. All information about them would be provided by the Electoral Commission and Parliament.
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The third principle provides that all reserve powers, which would be impossible to list – and, in reality, nobody really knows what they are because they will never come to the surface until some highly unusual or complicated situation occurs – would be transferred to the High Court. Any reserve powers that may be known because of past events would naturally be transferred also but would not need to be listed. These would include the ability to rule that a Prime Minister should be dismissed. However the important point here is that the High Court could not act alone. It could only be empowered to make a judgment after a request by the Head of State or, in an extremely unusual circumstance, the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition. These requests could only be made in the event the Westminster system or Parliamentary protocols have been breached. Convention would dictate that the leader of the opposition would take any grievances to the Head of State first and would only approach the High Court in an extremely rare and unusual situation. The High Court would then direct the Head of State to act.
Fourth, our Head of State would have her or his duties listed, which would be of a ceremonial nature, such as swearing in new ministers and proroguing Parliament when requested by the PM and so on. However, because of the empowerment to be able to approach the High Court our Head of State would also be required to be a vigilant guardian and watch dog of our Parliament and Westminster system of Government. Naturally, she or he would perform the same social and civic duties as carried out in the past. The Head of State could either be dismissed by a two thirds majority of Parliament or a ruling by the High Court after an approach by the PM or Leader of the Opposition. It would be expected that the PM and the Head of State would maintain a close relationship and be able to consult both ways on non-political and social matters of National interest and importance.
Many points raised here would be covered by regulations and not written into the body of the constitution.
I realise this will need fine tuning and legal input however for goodness sake let us all start with a base model and begin the process.