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A proposal for a constitutional republic

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Some constitutional amendments would be needed for a successful Australian republic (Image by Dan Jensen)

Australia has fallen behind many developed nations in clinging to the monarchy and it's time for a change that benefits the people, writes Kaijin Solo.

INCREASINGLY SINCE the Asian Stock market collapse and resultant recession of the late 1980s and early '90s, the focus of parliamentarians has been on the global economy, the Budget and privatisation.

During this time, the Australian people have evolved but the system hasn’t. So at a time when we should be talking about becoming a genuine republic, the structure of the nation is anything but a republic.

Therefore, merely installing a head of state will not only do nothing, but it would graduate the Governor-General to the status of a “client king or queen”. This was the Babylonian plan to dominate the Ancient World from the 6th Century to the early 5th Century BC until defeated by Macedonia, who went on to achieve their goal only to be defeated by Rome, an Empire which eventually collapsed under its own weight.

This short summary is intended to inform the national discussion and hopefully achieve some of its aims with a view to positioning the Australian people in a better position to determine their own future in an era of rapidly changing ideas.

Firstly, bearing in mind that the Federation of the Australian Parliament was founded on the best things of the French Revolution, the American War of Independence and the Westminster system, this writer found that there are seven major changes that are required for the constitutional monarchy of Australia to become the dream of the founders of Federation, which for those of us who liked Henry Lawson, has always been a republic.

Six of those are structural and constitutional, the seventh is to do with our science and what is called S.T.E.M:

  1. the Treaty with the Indigenous custodians;
  2. The compilation, collation, drafting, presentation and discussion with the people and if necessary, the amendment, re-presentation and ratification of the Constitution including:
    2a: preamble;
    2b: treaty;
    2c: articles of privilege and responsibility of citizenship; and
    2d: the amendment and remediation of the standing Constitution of 1901.
  3. the separation of religion and secular nation-state;
    3a: given not everyone in Australia who would call themselves a believer is necessarily associated with a formal religion, family-friendly alternative spiritual beliefs need to be recognised by the Government also;
  4. the creation of the fourth power of the Executive a la the French Republic. The House of Representatives is styled on Westminster, the Senate is styled on the American Senate and this side of China and France signing both Agenda 21 and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ignoring France is no longer a reality. We need 100 per cent of the foundation of the ideals of Australian democracy both legislated and actualised by the people;
  5. the separation of the first power of the Federal Executive (currently the Cabinet) from the Legislature by the creation of either the presidential executive a la Switzerland or the creation of the office of the president and the designation of the executive;
  6. the re-establishment of the Arbitration Court of Justice Henry Bournes Higgins. The Fair Work Commission should be decentralised as a grievance/mediation office, with sensible bipartisan rules designed to avoid a small or medium Australian business having to deal with the Arbitration Court;
    6a: there should also be a monument to honour the struggle towards the eight-hour day, the living wage and the original Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and
  7. there should be social, technological, environmental and meaningful progress (S.T.E.M.) for all of the people — bricklayer and architect, farmer and astronaut.

Whilst that is only seven major things, there seems to have been a complete resistance to change from within the existing government and associated structures, although it is commonly said on both sides of the table that “the republic has to come from the people”. The latest on record known by this writer was Malcolm Turnbull after the laughable declaration of the United States of Australia.

The structure of Australia is a federation of its states. America is a union of its states, which are two different political constructions of nationhood. France is a republic of its people via their Federal departments — this is also a different structure.

So is a federation a good enough structure for a republic? The General Assembly of the United Nations is a federation — that’s how good we looked in 1948 when an Australian was the president of the United Nations. Enough said, I think.

So given the overall structure is a federation, the republic doesn’t necessarily annul the states but with local government in the Federal Constitution, the double-dip can certainly go and the democracy can be much more representational than it presently is.

Conversely, we do not need to wait for Queen Elizabeth to leave this life. Becoming a republic does not necessarily involve leaving the Commonwealth of Nations, though nothing will save the Governor-General. There are probably as many as 20 years left in the Commonwealth League after which the “Democratic Community of South Pacific Islands” is probably what we will belong to. In the meantime, ditching 51 allies doesn’t make sense.

Res publica means “the things of the people” and it’s high time the things of the people were in the Constitution and we got on with the original dream of this nation.

A longer version of this article can be found here.

Kaijin Solo is a general engineer by trade who holds a BA in Ancient Cultures and Creative Arts as well as Cert IV in Training and Assessment and was also a candidate in the 2001 Federal Election. You can follow Kaijin on Twitter @KaijinSolo.

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