The Queen is an ineffective head of state

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The Queen does not represent the people, sign into law legislation or uphold the Constitution. Therefore, says Rosemary Crowley, she should be replaced.

QUITE A FEW years back, I attended a lecture in Adelaide that was making the case for an Australian Head of State and why we should become a republic. At very short notice, Don Dunstan stepped in to replace the speaker who was unable to attend.

Don gave a brilliant short speech, which I have never forgotten, outlining the three principal functions of a Head of State and pointing out that the Queen was unable to, or did not, fulfil those obligations. In short, he gave the three reasons as to why the Queen, who was not acting as our Head of State, should note continue as our Head of State.

First, the Head of State represents the People and speaks for them eg when Governor Roma Mitchell went to Indonesia, she was representing all South Australians.

The Queen rarely, if ever, does this for the people of Australia.

Second, the Head of State signs into Law the Legislation passed by the Parliament of Australia.

The Queen rarely, if ever, does this for the People of Australia.

Third, the Head of State upholds the Constitution. But when there was a coup in Fiji, the Queen did not act to oppose the coup. While her actions were and would be judged as appropriate, they were not the actions of a Head of State. In Spain, when the Military began a plot to overthrow the elected Government, and went to the King, seeking his support, the King made it very clear that, not only would he not support the plot, but he would rigorously oppose it and the plotters―it was against the Constitution and he was bound to uphold the Constitution. The plot collapsed.

The Queen did not act to uphold the Fiji Constitution and, given a Constitutional crisis in Australia, it is reasonable to presume that she would behave in the same way. That is, she would not act to uphold the Australian Constitution.

For these reasons, it is time for the People of Australia to have an Australian Head of State: someone who can speak for the people, someone who can sign legislation into law and someone who can, and will, uphold our Constitution.

This piece does not do justice to the presentation by Don Dunstan, but it makes the three powerful points that he made as I remember them. They are a very succinct case for an Australian Head of State.

(Rosemary Crowley is a former Senator and was the first female member of the ALP to be elected to the Federal parliament for South Australia. She is also the first woman to be elected to a Federal Ministry from South Australia. This article was first published in Republican Roundup in April 2008).  
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