Honorary President

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© 2004 David Latimer

Electing the Honorary President

Timing of the Election

Under the sub-section 60(vii), there is a constitution provision specifying a term of between five and eight years, extensible in lots of six months. The law either leaves the term at five years or would specify the final length of term by synchronising the election with a general election. Synchronisation is preferred.

The advantage of synchronisation is not simply cost, but ensuring the two nationwide elections do not coincide in an ungainly way. The remainder of this section shows how in practice it could be done.

The law would state that after five years, extensions of six months are automatic until a general election is called. If the extension finishes in the three months after the date of the general election, one further extension is given. The consequence of this is that the term of the Honorary President ends between three and nine months after the general election. Assuming parliamentary terms of between 2 years 2 months and 2 years 10 months, the resulting term of the Honorary President would usually end after 5.5 or 6 years.

The election of the next Honorary President is announced shortly after the announcement of the general election and the date is eleven weeks after the election. Petitioners would have the period from the announcement to four weeks after the general election to collect their signatures. The federal and state parliaments would have until six weeks after the election to nominate a former governor.

The candidate information campaign, through the AEC, commences by the eighth week. Electors make their decision by the eleventh week by post, which is shortly before the three-month deadline, whereby the commissioner must announce the results.

The Honorary President Elect waits until the current Honorary President finishes his or her term at between three or nine months after the general election.

There are significant advantages of synchronisation:

  • Prior to the election the political parties will be devoting their energies to winning the general election. It will be difficult for them to justify utilising resources for generating a petition
  • In contrast, citizens generally will be thinking about the elections. Those in non-political organisations will have more opportunity to generate a petition in a timely way.
  • The time consuming and expensive task of updating the electoral rolls will serve both elections.
  • The period after the election is politically calmer than other times in the election cycle. It is at this time that citizens will be making their choice for Honorary President.

Time may erode these advantages or it may be possible to devise more advantageous systems, however sub-section 60(vii) is sufficiently flexible, allowing the law to adapt to changes in the election cycle appropriately.

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