‘Charles will be King … and no Australians can apply’: Republicans launch presidential plans
Australians would be able to choose from up to 11 presidential candidates and the directly-elected winner would serve a five-year term, under proposed changes finalised by the Australian Republican Movement.
The ARM, which released some of the details of its proposed model in January, has now finalised its proposed constitutional changes for an Australian republic.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles in 2019.Credit:Getty
The proposed model and constitutional changes have been designed after extensive consultations with legal experts and are similar to the Irish Republic, which vests limited powers in a future President, who would replace the Governor-General – the Queen’s representative in Australia.
Each state and territory would be able to propose one candidate for president, with how that person was chosen up to the jurisdiction, while the federal government would propose up to three candidates – with a popular vote to follow.
A future president would appoint a prime minister who had a majority in the House of Representatives, as the Governor-General currently does, but could not terminate a prime minister who had a majority in the House, as Sir John Kerr did to Gough Whitlam in 1975.
Other functions such as the issuing of writs for an election and summoning the House to determine confidence in the government would be retained but assent from the head of state for new laws endorsed by voters would be automatic after seven days.
In practice, a President would have fewer powers than the Governor-General currently does.
The hybrid model proposed by the ARM seeks to unify supporters of a republic who were divided in 1999 between people who wanted a directly elected president and those who wanted a head of state chosen by Parliament.
ARM national director Sandy Biar said the model would “ensure Australians have a head of state who speaks for them, who represents them and that we have a constitution that clearly defines the powers of the head of state and removes the ambiguities that exist”.
Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.Credit:AP
“What we deserve is a head of state who speaks for us and represents us and who puts Australia’s interests first. When we look at our head of state, it’s hard to argue that a King or Queen represents Australia”.
ARM deputy director Tully Fletcher said that, with the 95-year-old Queen looking increasingly frail, Australians would in the next few years “get an education about our constitutional system when Charles becomes King”.
“We have no say [about who is head of state] and unless we can make the changes we propose, we will never get a say,” he said.
“Charles will be King and Camilla will be Queen of Australia and no Australian can apply. Charles is simply not Australian and regardless of what we think of him personally, he has no place in the government or constitution of a modern Australia”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is a staunch constitutional monarchist but were he to lose the next election – and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg became opposition leader – both major parties would be led by republicans.
The only other time his has occurred was when Malcolm Turnbull was prime minister and Bill Shorten the opposition leader. However, Mr Turnbull – who has given lukewarm support to the ARM’s proposed model – did not take up the republican cause at the time.
Resolve Political Monitor polling conducted for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in January found a narrow majority of Australians, at 54 per cent, were willing to vote for a republic,
But just 38 per cent supported the model proposed by the ARM, while it was rejected by 30 per cent and 32 per cent of people were unsure.
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