Winning Entries to the 2009 Regional Essay Competition
2009 Division 1 (15-18 years) Winner
Emma Swan (Fairholme College, Toowoomba)
"Australia's Governor-General, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, remarked that the words to best describe the Queen -- Service and Duty -- came to her mind each time she visited Her Majesty. Describe the Service and Duty as performed by our Governor-General, referring to her constitutional and ceremonial roles."
On August the 21st 2008, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC took the oath as Australia's 25th Governor-General. She agreed to take on this role "with solemnity, impartiality, energy and a profound love for the country we share". Undertaking to "do her best to observe, sustain and uphold the principals, conventions and rule of law that are our foundation", and as she travels, "be open, responsive and faithful to Australian society."
On June the 2nd 1953, Queen Elizabeth made a similar formal promise at her Coronation -- a promise to "serve" her people by governing each nation according to its own laws. She is able to uphold this in Australia by appointing a Governor-General as her Majesty's representative in the Commonwealth [on the advice of the Australian Prime Minister].
Our current Governor-General, Quentin Bryce protects the constitution, facilitates the work of the Commonwealth Parliament and Government and carries out many constitutional and ceremonial duties.
The Constitution reads that "the executive power of the commonwealth shall be vested in the Queen and exercisable by the Governor-General as the Queen's representative." This enables her to appoint a federal executive council to advise her in government, establish departments of state, appoint ministers, summon, prorogue and dissolve parliament, give royal assent in the Queen's name to a bill passed by both houses of parliament, exercise the commander-in-chief of naval and military forces (thus ensuring ultimate control) and host executive functions including the issuing of proclamations, making and terminating appointments to public office and presenting regulations (while always adhering to the advice of ministers in the executive council).
Her relationship with the government and parliament, generates many ceremonial duties including marking the opening of a new parliament by delivering a speech from the throne which sets out the government's legislative program. She administers oaths of office to prime ministers and ministers, administrators of territories of the commonwealth, judges of federal courts and the auditor-general. She receives the credentials of foreign ambassadors and high commissioners of republics within the commonwealth. She holds investitures, and attends Anzac and Remembrance Day memorial services. She presents commissions and awards to graduating officers at military parades and colours and banners to regiments and other units of the armed services, and she entertains visiting heads of state with international diplomacy and protocol.
From one day to the next, she may be required to travel from one state to another, attending conferences, opening exhibitions, agricultural shows, sporting meetings, attending functions as a patron or office bearer, and attending areas of disaster to offer support acknowledge effort and encourage contributions made by fellow Australians.
Last August, Her Excellency opened the new middle school at Fairholme College, right here in Toowoomba. Her grace, immaculate appearance and inspirational speech will remain a lifetime memory for the students who attended this celebration. She will undoubtedly continue to encourage and inspire many Australians to achieve great things, while fulfilling her service and duty throughout our nation.
Our Governor-General has the important duty to protect and ensure that Australia remains a safe, strong and successful country.
Chresby. A, 1988, Your Will be Done, the Aust. Constitutional Ed. Campaign, Toowoomba
Chresby. A, 1987, Our Constitution and Peace, the Aust. Constitutional Ed. Campaign, Toowoomba
2009 Division 2 (11-14 years) Winner
Adam Little (Centenary Heights State High School, Toowoomba)
"Why do you think millions of people have fled republics to come and live in stable Constitutional Monarchies, such as Australia?"
Constitutional Monarchy -- n.
A monarchy in which the powers of the ruler are restricted to those granted under the constitution and laws of the nation.
Although this may be the dictionary definition of a Constitutional Monarchy, there is so much more to our unique system of government. It is that very same system, which has upheld our nation, with integrity and honour, ever since its birth. Constitutional Monarchies and Australia in particular, are fortresses for the defenseless and desperate. They are beacons of hope, to those who are fleeing the sufferings, associated with oppressive republics.
It is a massive leap of faith, to leave behind everything that one has ever known. Obviously, it is not a step taken on a whim; it is a last resort, to escape unimaginable hardship -- a step to ensure a brighter future. Unfortunately, for countless people, this is the only option. UNHCR statistics, state that at the end of 2007, there were almost 11.4 million refugees. Not one of these refugees was fleeing from a Constitutional Monarchy! This speaks volumes on behalf of our system of government. Corrupt and mismanaged republics, on the other hand, create volatile conditions, which have in the past, afflicted and repressed people from nations all around the world. Unfortunately, as the statistics show, they continue doing so today.
Government's acting under a charade of democracy; obliterate everything that democracy should stand for. This is often to the point, where not only are the rights and freedoms of the individual not protected, they are deliberately sabotaged. Crooked and unjust governments are characterized by religious intolerance, forcing many to leave. Political and civil unrest is left to simmer, often resulting in bitter violence -- with no regard to the safety of the people.
The dire situations in Zimbabwe and in Ghana unequivocally highlight the several flaws within the Republican system, which are constantly exploited by ruthless governments. Both of these countries were once Constitutional Monarchies, under the British Monarchy. Under the Crown, Ghana grew and flourished, having a well established parliamentary democracy. After eradicating ties with Britain, Nhkrumah their leader became president, and before long, the parliament proclaimed him "President for life". Later, the parliament itself was abolished.
Zimbabwe's story is similar to the tragedy of Ghana. Another part of the Empire, formerly known as Rhodesia, also broke away from the Crown. This resulted in seven years of civil war, and the decay of a once thriving people. From being one of the most affluent African nations, Zimbabwe's economy now lies in absolute tatters, sliding further into the abyss known as dictatorship. When considering the violation of human rights on the part of their leader Robert Mugabe, it is quite easy to see why those people see Australia as such an amazing safe haven.
However, it is clearly much more than that. It is important to realize that throughout Australia's history, our Constitutional Monarchy has grown to be more than a way of government; it has become a way of life. Labelled as the "lucky country", Australia has established itself as a shining light on the world stage -- a true example of democracy. Refugees are attracted to Australia, because it provides political stability and economic progress, law, order, and guaranteed freedoms. It is not surprising that seven of the eight longest serving democracies in the world are constitutional monarchies. The eighth is the United States -- who was also founded by Great Britain.
War, sadly, is a grave reality for many, and often the reason for fleeing their home country. Most Australians however, would have no idea what life is like in a war zone. This is why so many refugees are attracted to Australia. For a country so large in size and diversity, we are one of only a handful of world nations, never to have experienced a civil war. Not once has our government been forcibly overthrown. We take our constitutional monarchy for granted, not realizing the real importance that it holds. Its full significance however, is highlighted by this comment from a Ghanaian market woman, who said, "Ah, Queen Elizabeth, she used to be our Queen, too. Since then we have had many, presidents, coups and military dictatorships, and we are worse off. In England they still have Queen Elizabeth."
Those who become refugees can no longer see a future for themselves and their families within their country. They see no hope of prosperity, stability or security. All that is left for them is continuing poverty, rule of capriciousness, and subjugation. Australia as a constitutional monarchy, offers that future, that hope of prosperity, stability, security and abundance and so they come.
"In a time of drastic change ... ... the Monarchy offers continuity, reassurance and stability."
Australians for Constitutional Monarchy (Toowoomba Branch)
Annual General Meeting, 1 March 2009.
Bernstein, D,. 2002, World Refugees, viewed 12th April 2009
Handley, K,. 2001, Lessons for Australia from Commonwealth Countries, viewed 9th April 2009
Hansard, 1998, Constitutional Convention (PDF), viewed 12th April 2009
Rhodes, M,. 2002, "She Used to be our Queen too", viewed 15th April 2009
UNHCR, 2008, 2007 Global Trends (PDF) , viewed 5th April 2009
UNHCR, 2008, Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries (PDF) , viewed 12th April 2009