Republic? More Power For Politicians (p5 of 11)
THE QUEEN'S REPRESENTATIVE
Section 2 of the Constitution establishes the office of Governor-General as the "Queen's representative in the Commonwealth" to exercise such powers of the Queen as are assigned to him. In fact, by virtue of s. 61, the whole of the executive power is assigned to the Governor-General and can be exercised only by him. Although it is "the Queen's power" she has no authority to exercise it even if she is present in Australia. The Governor-General does not receive and cannot legally be given any directions (or even advice) by the Queen and he does not and cannot legally account or report to her. It might seem strange to someone who does not understand the historic basis of government that the Governor-General is expressed to be the Queen's representative and the executive power is expressed to be the Queen's power although he receives no directions from her and although he alone can exercise the power. The point is, of course, the Governor General represents the Queen in his responsibility to fulfil the requirements of the Coronation Oath, and the executive power he exercises is limited by the principles of government expressed in that Oath.
Some people might say it is good that the historic principles of the Westminster system are continued in Australia but those principles should be expressed in simpler terms so that it is not necessary to look to the Coronation Oath to discern the principles of government and the responsibilities of the Governor-Governor General. While it is true that the Constitution of Australia could be changed to continue the same principle without reference to the Queen or the historic linkage to the Coronation Oath itself, there is no such proposal in the terms of government being put forward for a Republic.
At the Constitutional Convention the present writer moved, seconded by Brigadier Alf. Garland, that any new preamble to the Constitution should "...affirm the principles and rules for government expressed and acknowledged up to this time in the historic oath and ceremonies of the Kings and Queens of Great Britain...". The mover of the motion explained in debate that the intention was to ensure the undergirding of the Constitution by Christian principles in the future even if Australia does become a republic. The proposal was vigorously opposed by pro-republican delegates. When put to the vote it was overwhelmingly rejected as a matter not worthy to be discussed for possible inclusion in any Republican Constitution for Australia.
Most people supporting proposals for Australia to become a Republic are totally unaware that terminating the position of the Governor-General (by whatever name the position might be known) as representing the Queen would entail a severance of the nation from the historic principle that Christian ethics are supposed to be the basis of law and government in this nation.
The first and second editions of this booklet were called "Republic? The Hidden Agenda." That title is not an allegation of malice or even of knowledge that the effect of the proposals for Australia to become a Republic would sever government in this nation from its historic philosophical base. The fact is that the historic undergirding of Australian law and government by the principles expressed in the Coronation Oath is seldom taught in schools or universities and is rarely found in text books. Many administrators, parliamentarians, lawyers and even judges might never have become aware that the historic principles expressed in the Coronation Oath are the true foundation of Australian law and government.
It will be a tragedy for this nation if it becomes a Republic simply because of the ignorance of the people and the leaders. Of course, the tragedy will be no less if the historic principles are rejected with full knowledge of their existence and their meaning.
Written and authorised by Dr David Mitchell,
18 Proctors Rd. Dynnyrne, Tasmania 7005
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