History tells us that new wars are lost because generals take over the last one. The looming battle to protect Australia’s constitutional monarchy from the Albanian government and its Republican cheerleaders like deceitful Peter FitzSimons is likely to go in the same direction.
In 1999, the monarchy prevailed in the referendum on an Australian republic for two reasons. First, the Republican elite became desperately divided over which model of republic to adopt – Malcolm Turnbull’s model of parliamentary choice which was eventually put to a referendum, or the direct election model which was more popular with the electorate. .
Second, however, was the clever reasoning advocated by pro-monarchy leaders Tony Abbott and the Australia Spectator own David Flint. Despite vocal opposition from the pro-republican media, they managed to convince enough Australians that the parliamentary selection of a president would be a “republic of politicians”. Along with this, however, was the assertion that the Australian Constitution is already a “crowned republic” in which the Governor-General, not the Queen, is the de facto head of state.
This argument helped win the 1999 battle. And, as former judge Ken Handley QC, argued here last week, there are all sorts of legal opinions to back up that claim.
But politically, this is all just legal gibberish. Sophisticated sophistry totally unnecessary and irrelevant to the referendum battle for hearts and minds that will come if the Albanian government is re-elected.
The Queen, in fact as well as her name, is Australia’s head of state. And, contrary to the fears of Flint, Handley and Australians solidly loyal to a constitutional monarchy, who all insist that the Governor-General is the star and not the stand-in, that is, in the language of 1066 and all thata good thing.
As for the legal argument, go no further than the first sections of the Australian Constitution.
Article 1 of the Constitution says: “The legislative power of the Commonwealth will be vested in a Federal Parliament, which will consist of the Queen, a Senate and a House of Representatives.” The Queen, not a Governor General.
Article 2 provides: ‘A Governor-General appointed by the Queen shall be Her Majesty’s representative in the Commonwealth, and shall have and may exercise in the Commonwealth at the pleasure of the Queen, but subject to this Constitution, such powers and duties of the Queen as Her Majesty may be satisfied to attribute to it. This is done by Letters Patent and Royal Instructions from the Queen to her representative in Australia, effectively to delegate his powers to exercise in his name.
So, very simply, the Governor General is the substitute for the sovereign and not a head of state in his own right. Lawyers can parse dry statutory words, dust off moldy law reports and legal treatises, and do what lawyers like to do – argue that black is white – as much as they want: it doesn’t change the real reality. as it is understood and perceived by every day. Australians.
That the queen is our head of state.
It is not the image of the Governor General on the coins that jingle in our pockets. It is not the actions of the Governor General that fill the pages of our women’s magazines and newspapers and occupy many hours of radio and television airtime.
She’s the queen and, for better or worse, the royal family.
Let’s be honest. The reason support for the monarchy is holding up so well in the polls, most surprisingly among young Australians, is that Her Majesty is an incredible woman, still doing an incredible job after seventy years. She is a rock of constancy in our lives when everything around is constantly changing and in crisis. She is genuinely respected by Republicans as well as Monarchists, and many love her.
The prospect that eventually he will be succeeded by the sympathetic Prince William, who will reign with Kate at his side and surrounded by his very attractive young family, neutralizes the imminent succession to the throne of the not-so-secret Republicans. weapon, Prince Charles, and a general distaste for the conduct of the black sheep princes (or should it be a blackguard?), Harry and Andrew, not to mention the destructive and gold-digging Meghan.
The Queen is the monarchy’s greatest asset. His role in Australia should not be denied by monarchists, but celebrated loud and clear. Her Majesty is our Head of State, and her children and grandchildren are her “heirs and successors, according to law,” as the Constitutional Pledge of Allegiance puts it.
The immediate danger to the future of the monarchy in Australia is not its constitutional and legal status. Rather, it is the tendency of Charles and, increasingly, William to insist that they have the right to express their opinions publicly that calls into question the legendary impartiality of the Crown.
The Heirs to the Throne should not impose their wisdom on the world at Davos and the UN climate love parties. On the contrary, they should at most confine themselves to asserting in private Bagehot’s rights to be consulted, encouraged and warned. The more political their public rhetoric, the more ammunition they have for those who aspire to abolish it. It’s something the Queen has understood throughout her long adult life.
The politicization of the Crown, by the Crown, is its real existential threat, which monarchists should really worry about deeply. The status of the Governor General simply does not matter. It’s irrelevant.
Defenders of the Crown in Australia, like David Flint and Tony Abbott, did heroic work to save the Australian monarchy in 1999. They will forever be celebrated and respected for their dedication to the cause, and for outmaneuvering and overcoming their opponents. republicans. That their position is sincere on the Australian status of the monarchy deserves respect.
But in 2022, saving the monarchy from further Republican assaults means looking at the challenge through the eyes of 2022. That requires fighting the referendum war to come, not the last. Specifically, it means abandoning the sophistic and legalistic myth that the Queen is not our head of state, and instead shouting from the rooftops that she is a wonderful blessing and how lucky we are to have her. have, as well as the crown it embodies.
Terry Barnes writes Spectator Australia’s Morning Double Shot newsletter
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