A Republic For All Australians

Australia is still a constitutional monarchy: the King or Queen of England is automatically the King or Queen of Australia. But it has evolved since Federation in 1901 into a “crowned republic”: the King or Queen now simply holds reserve (emergency) powers; the remainder of our constitutional system has been severed from British control.

I believe it is inevitable that Australia will eventually break its final tie with the British monarchy. However, replacing it with an inferior constitutional system would be disastrous.

On August 1, 1994, the Melbourne Herald Sun published a letter of mine, warning that the then-current push for a republic would fail if it didn’t offer Australians a viable system. (The Australian constitution can only be changed by referendum.) Sure enough, by November 1999 a disastrous referendum campaign failed.

I knew that, one day, perhaps decades hence, some event would propel Australians to again seek a republic. Over the next few years I developed a republic model that would give Australians what they want, yet would be as safe as our current constitutional monarchy. The late Richard McGarvie, former Governor of Victoria, Justice of the Supreme Court, and constitutional expert, kindly went through my proposed Constitution and verified its soundness.

By 2004 I had written a book, containing a brief overview of the history of republicanism in Australia (and the disastrous campaign of the 1990s), as well as outlining my republic model in full. After discussions with former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, I allowed it to be published by the Australian Senate:

I hope that this model will be considered as a safe and reliable option whenever the issue of an Australian Republic again arises on the political agenda, most probably decades from now.