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Australian republic 'inevitable,' says Foreign Minister
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2008 2:07 pm    Post subject: Australian republic 'inevitable,' says Foreign Minister Reply with quote

By the way, the Australian Monarchist League is a joke - they once put out a propaganda leaflet with the NEW ZEALAND flag on it!!!

Australian republic debate revives

By Phil Mercer
BBC, Sydney

The resignation of Governor-General Peter Hollingworth, the Queen's official representative in Australia, has sent the spirits of republicans soaring.

It is four years since the country decisively said "no" in a referendum on severing its constitutional ties to the British Crown.

The debate, which had largely disappeared from the political and public radar, has now been reignited by the controversies surrounding Mr Hollingworth.

Former Australian Governor-General Peter Hollingworth
Peter Hollingworth was accused of mishandling a child abuse case
At the start of May, an Anglican Church report into child abuse found that as Archbishop of Brisbane in the 1990s, he allowed a known paedophile to continue working as a priest.

Peter Hollingworth's position became virtually untenable when separate rape allegations, which he strongly denied and which were later dropped, were made against him.

The Australian Republican Movement (ARM) believes the current constitutional arrangements are unsuited to a modern democracy.

The entire system is broken, it is undemocratic, and it is now time to fix it
Jim Terrie, Australian Republican Movement

Convention has given the prime minister of Australia the authority to choose who fills the largely ceremonial post of governor-general, a decision then rubber-stamped by the Queen in London.

Republicans point to what they see as a lack of transparency in the way the representative of the country's head of state is appointed. They also complain the office's independence has been eroded.

They argue that a system in which only two people, the prime minister and the Queen, have the power to appoint and remove Australia's governor-general, without any parliamentary debate or public discussion, is clearly inadequate.

The ARM's Jim Terrie told BBC News Online that political control exerted by the prime minister has destroyed the governor-general's role as an impartial constitutional umpire.

"The entire system is broken, it is undemocratic, and it is now time to fix it," he said.

A successor to Peter Hollingworth is expected to be appointed within a month.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, is unlikely to bow to pressure to consult more widely before making his choice.

Even when the new man - or woman - is sworn in, a deeper debate will continue over what part the Queen's representative in Australia has to play in public life.

An editorial in the Australian newspaper suggested the viceroy served no practical purpose.

"The office of governor-general is now stranded - trapped between the obsolete role of representing the crown and the republican idea of representing the people," it said.

Those loyal to Australia's constitutional monarchy have insisted the scandals surrounding Peter Hollingworth and his subsequent resignation have not damaged the office of governor-general.

Far from it, according to Professor David Flint, the national convener of Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy.

He told the BBC that recent events have shown the current system works well and can provide stability at a time of crisis.

Professor Flint said that when Mr Hollingworth initially stood aside to contest the rape allegations, his constitutional functions passed "seamlessly" to a temporary administrator, "without blood being spilt on the streets".

A republic 'within the decade'

Monarchists argue that in a republic, the resignation of a head of state in such controversial circumstances would have had a paralysing effect.

Republicans in Australia are not expecting miracles.

When pressed, the ARM's Jim Terrie said he was optimistic its goal would be achieved "within five to ten years" and Peter Hollingworth's spectacular resignation would help.

Of more immediate concern to most Australians is that child sexual abuse, the mishandling of which ultimately lead to Peter Hollingworth's downfall, will now be approached more openly and vigorously.

Government frontbencher Joe Hockey said victims of abuse must know the tide is turning in their favour:

"The message for all those people in a position of influence or power is that your first duty of care is always to the child who may be alleging that they are a victim of paedophilia ," he told ABC radio.


SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia's split from the British monarchy is "inevitable" but is not an urgent priority for the government, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Sunday.

The issue of a republic has been a key item to emerge from a two-day 2020 summit, a gathering of 1,000 of the nation's "best and brightest."

The summit was called by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to generate "big ideas" after his election in November ended almost 12 years of conservative rule.

Responding to enthusiastic support for a split from the British monarchy from the Canberra meeting, Smith said while the centre-left Labor government favoured a republic, it was not a top priority.

"I regard it as inevitable. I don't see it occurring in 2010," he said.

"It's one of those things I think the nation state will attend to in due course," he told Network Ten.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is hugely popular in Australia, and Smith said that as long she she ruled, this held back momentum for change.

"There's... something of a view in the community that the appropriate time to move is when the current monarch moves off from her position and whenever that might be," he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she believed the summit "was accurately reflecting a new sense of engagement and interest with the republic debate."

"The majority of Australians, I think we can say, want to move to a republic, but there are a variety of views about what kind of republic," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

"The sense coming out of the summit has been a sense of urgency and I suspect that will be the subject of more discussion today."

The Australian Monarchist League said the 2020 summit delegates had been biased towards a republic from the outset and their views were not necessarily representative of the wider community.

The league's Phillip Benwell told the ABC there was no need for the country to cut its ties with the British monarchy.

"At a time when there's no problem with our constitution, when there's no constitutional crisis, why move to fix something that doesn't need fixing, just because people don't like one part of our constitution -- and that is the Queen and the Crown?" he said.

The 2020 summit includes politicians past and present, bankers and business leaders, experts and academics and even a couple of Hollywood stars.

Scottish not "British"
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