Honorary President

Senate Submission


 The Amendments 
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 Section 126
 Section 59
 Section 60
 Section 61
 Section 2
 Section 4
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 Electoral Law

 The Two Roles
 Costs v Benefits
 Free Speech

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© 2004 David Latimer

An Independent Institution

Free Speech

"No Prime Ministerial puppet for President"
Reasons 1 and 8 The case for voting NO, 1999 Referendum

The ability of the Honorary President to speak freely will be the litmus test of the Australian people deciding upon the merits of this model. It would repudiate the claim that the position is "a puppet of the Prime Minister", as argued repeatedly in the official NO case of the 1999 Referendum

Fortunately, there is no compelling reason why he or she should not be able to speak as any other responsible free citizen.

One might believe that the Honorary President must be constrained to support the democratically elected government of the day. In fact, that is the convention binding the Governor General, who by convention must accept the advice of government ministers.

In contrast the Honorary President is neither the government nor a judge. The limited power of the Honorary President means that they are in no position to implement any personally held view as public policy. There is the natural possibility that they may express a view in apparent disagreement with the government, however the office is established as an apolitical institution and would not be inclined to set itself up for a confrontation with a politically astute Prime Minister and cabinet.

The risk of embarrassing the government, through the words of the Honorary President, is great only when the government has already embarrassed itself. It is at such times that people may insist that the Honorary President speak freely. In response, it is likely that the Honorary President will find words which are reconciling and unifying rather than those which would divide or cause further protest.

Next: Other Issues The Referendum Question