Honorary President

Senate Submission


 The Amendments 
 20 References
 Section 126
 Section 59
 Section 60
 Section 61
 Section 2
 Section 4
 The States
 All Amendments

 The Election 
 Why Elect
 Electoral Law

 The Two Roles
 Costs v Benefits
 Free Speech

 Other Issues 
 One Royal Link
 Honorary Vice Pres
 Spectrum of Powers
 More Questions


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Honorary President


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© 2004 David Latimer


" ‘Unless the people elect the president, what’s the point?...’ Phil Cleary"
Reason 2 – The case for voting NO, 1999 Referendum

Without an election for the Head of State, there will be no republic. A sufficient number of people agree with the above quotation to defeat any republican proposal with an appointed Head of State. When a typical voter is enlightened with the standard argument against direct-election, they rightly respond “then there is no need to change.”

Similarly, without including an elected Head of State, there would be no point in spending time developing this submission, no point getting a favourable mention by any Senate Committee, no point in seeing the government draft legislation or looking forward to a referendum, because the answer would be no.

So the Honorary President, introduced by this submission, must firstly be an elected Head of State and hence this model, providing the framework for the Honorary President’s selection and powers, passes its initial test.

"We did not seriously consider [in 1991] a directly elected presidency because it would involve much more far-reaching changes to our political system. If we were to simply to replace the Queen and Governor-General with an Australian Head of State, we should preserve the non-political nature of the office"
Fighting for the Republic, M. Turnbull (p3)

All the republican models canvassed at the Constitutional Convention propose that an Australian Head of State replace the Queen and Governor General together. This is assumption was made at the very beginning of the modern republican movement. It was formalised in the terms of reference of the Republican Advisory Committee, to which the McGarvie Model was framed in response.

The assumption leaves any direct-election model with the task of codifying the powers of the Governor General.

This model does not make the same assumption, proposing instead that an Honorary President replace the Queen alone and the concept of the Crown be replaced by an equivalent concept called the Presidency. The Governor General and the state governors continue in their existing role – their functions and powers, including the reserve powers, continuing without even transitional interruption.

The task of codifying the Queen’s powers is comparatively simple task and would be undertaken in the federal constitution in one section. This allows the Honorary President to be elected by the people, with no opportunity of challenging the political authority of the Prime Minister, even in the most protracted constitutional crisis.

The model would, in practice, do no more than expand the number of ceremonial leaders in the nation from seven to eight. The Office of the Honorary President would be smaller in size of that of the office of Governor General but would link symbolically all the parliaments (state and federal) which comprise the Australian federation.

The advantages of the model are numerous – with minimal constitutional change, it delivers a directly-elected institutionally-independent Head of State. There is no practical or theoretical disadvantage to our present democracy. The critical relationship and conventions between the Governor General and Prime Minister are unaffected to the degree that no further codification of the powers exercisable by the Governor General is required. The Australian version of the Westminster system of parliamentary government is maintained.

With the Honorary President Republican Model now presented, there is a clear and eloquent solution to the problem of constitutional change – a solution that passes all the tests, including the final test of national referendum.

Next: Framework for an Australian Republic