The Meeting Place

An argument for constitutional monarchy

Originally published as Why Australians, not just God, should 'save the Queen', written by Greg Bondar

Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning British monarch on 9 September, 2015, when she surpassed the reign of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria (who lived to the age of 81).

On 6 February 2017, Queen Elizabeth II became the first British monarch to celebrate a Sapphire Jubilee, commemorating 65 years on the throne. She is also the 40th monarch since William the Conqueror obtained the crown of England.

Interestingly, Queen Elizabeth II also became the longest-reigning living monarch on 13 October, 2016, upon the death of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand.

The June long weekend has been the date set aside when we celebrate Her Majesty’s birthday. Why June? This tradition was started by George II in 1748 and it owes its origins to the ageless problem of the British weather; all British sovereigns are given the option of having an ‘official’ birthday. The Queen’s real birthday is on April 21 (she was born in 1926, so turned 94 this year) but she chose to hold her celebration in June each year.

For the non-baby boomers, the following brief historical observations about the Queen highlight the impact she has had on countless lives. More importantly, they point to the success of the Constitutional Monarchy as a system of government.

During Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, there have been:

  • Fourteen UK Prime Ministers in office – from Winston Churchill to Boris Johnson

  • Thirteen US Presidents in office: from Harry Truman to Donald Trump

  • Seven Archbishops of Canterbury: from Geoffrey Fisher to Justin Welby

  • Seven Popes during the Queen’s reign: from Pius XII to Francis

Upholding our Constitutional Monarchy
Presently, Queen Elizabeth II is the permanent head of our Constitution. By her very existence, the Queen and her successors ensure that our democracy, embedded in the Constitution, remains inviolate. Over-ambitious and overriding politicians cannot change this fact and as such, Elizabeth II (and her heirs and successors) remain our ultimate safeguard.

I am NSW State Director of FamilyVoice Australia and we have always advocated the retention of constitutional monarchy as the preferred model of governance for our Commonwealth. We also have encouraged all Australians to unite to defend our constitutional system of government.

Although FamilyVoice recognises the different political views in the public square, we continue to oppose the attempt by minority groups to promote a republican form of government. In fact, there is deep concern about the potential for ‘constitutional vandalism’ that would arise from policies postulated by progressive left-leaning political parties which seek to achieve a ‘republic’ at any cost.

As a monarchist, there are two issues of concern. First, there is concern that left-wing political parties pledge to attempt constitutional reform without respecting the constitutional provisions for change. This has the real risk of undermining public confidence in our civic system including its government and its parliament. Secondly, there is concern that the appointment of a ‘Minister for the Republic’ would contradict the Constitution and subject executive government and the office of the Governor-General to severe embarrassment.

While any political party is perfectly entitled to discuss and debate the republican question, it is not entitled to undermine respect and confidence in our existing system by inviting people to effectively vote against the Crown without offering any executable alternative.

No ‘minister for the republic’ can be appointed under the existing Constitution.

There is every indication that MPs would not be able to agree on a model to be presented to the electorate in a referendum. Any referendum on a republic could lead to the same chaos which has arisen in the British Parliament following the Brexit debacle, when a popular desire cannot be executed owing to disunity within the Parliament. As the British government has found to its horror and acute embarrassment, it is entirely foolish to gain a mandate for action without the ability to execute the change.

In the UK, the sheer distraction, waste of political energy, lack of certainty, and demise of one prime minister, has utterly undermined confidence in government and in the institution of Parliament itself.

Consulting the people of Australia
In Australia it would be improper for government to attempt constitutional change without respecting the constitutional provision, which is for the voters to be given precise details about any recommended changes – so they can vote with certainty on the issue, in a manner which binds the Parliament.

Anything less is to treat the people and the civic system with contempt, and to engage in a process of constitutional vandalism.

It would be grossly improper for any government to misappropriate the resources of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, requiring its officials to run a glorified opinion poll on a question – or to instruct the Australian Electoral Commission to hold a plebiscite on a constitutional question, instead of running a proper referendum.

In discussions embarrassing to one’s self and the Executive Council, the Governor-General may feel dutybound to point out that each federal parliamentarian must profess allegiance to the Queen of Australia, along with her heirs and successors, according to the Constitution (S42 and its schedule). While any MP is free to debate the merits of Crown allegiance, no MP can take ministerial action against the Crown without a mandate from the people – as determined by the referendum mechanism provided in the Constitution.

The people must be consulted and must approve constitutional change before the Constitution may be used in a manner otherwise contrary to its own provisions.

In other words, no ‘minister for the republic’ can be appointed under the existing Constitution.

A ‘Constitutional Monarchy’ has proven to be the best form of government, despite many cynically claiming that having a Monarch as Head of State is good for tourism, and not much else. The fact remains that there are numerous reasons why constitutional monarchy has been, is, and will be the best form of government.

Happy Birthday, Your Highness.

Greg Bondar serves as the NSW State Director of FamilyVoice Australia. He has been working as a Senior Executive within the not-for-profit, government, and vorporate sector for more than 30 years. Greg was formerly the Federal and NSW State Director for the Christian Democratic Party of Australia (Fred Nile Group), where he oversaw the 2016 federal elections and various by-elections. He was also a Senior Adviser to the Minister for Transport and Regional Development in the first term of the Howard Government. 

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22 comments

Wow!

Some perfect examples here of the detrimental impact of isolation. 

Some of you really need to get a life and leave the future to those who will be there.  

There seems no apetite for an Australian republic while Queen Elizabeth warms the chair.  Even as a republican I believe she continued to do a magnificent job including for Australia.  However I don't think too many Australians look forward to the prospect of an airhead King Charles and Queen Grimhilde - oops, I mean Camilla.  

Reading all these posts I am appalled at the ignorance of some people, including Mr Bondar, of what exactly is written within the Australian Constitution. Our constittion is basically an agreement between the original 6 states on how to set up a central government and what would be the responsibilities and powers of the federal government and what are the states responsibilities. Mr Bondar should know there is nothing in the constitiution to prevent a Federal government from  appointing a Minister for the Republic, or any other portfolio they choose. Of course it will take a referendum to change the constitution, but there is no limitation on what a referendum may authorise, including taking Australia to a republic, or any other form of government. Our constitution is an act of the British Parliaqment,  if you have spare hour or two maybe you would like to read all 128 sections, it is interesting reading.

https://www.aph.gov.au/about_parliament/senate/powers_practice_n_procedures/constitution 

Reading all these posts I am appalled at the ignorance of some people, including Mr Bondar, of what exactly is written within the Australian Constitution. Our constittion is basically an agreement between the original 6 states on how to set up a central government and what would be the responsibilities and powers of the federal government and what are the states responsibilities. Mr Bondar should know there is nothing in the constitiution to prevent a Federal government from  appointing a Minister for the Republic, or any other portfolio they choose. Of course it will take a referendum to change the constitution, but there is no limitation on what a referendum may authorise, including taking Australia to a republic, or any other form of government. Our constitution is an act of the British Parliaqment,  if you have spare hour or two maybe you would like to read all 128 sections, it is interesting reading.

https://www.aph.gov.au/about_parliament/senate/powers_practice_n_procedures/constitution 

Look at the problems that the historian had about releasing the letters from Kerr to the Queen re Whitlam's dismissal. If that is an example of the "Good Constitutional Monarchy" bring on the revolution!! We need to be in full control of our affairs, the Queen still has considerable power over Australia.  Canada is a republic but still part of the Commonwealth, not a bad model.

I am not in any way a supported of the Royals and never have been but it worries me if we were to become a republic as to who and how they would be chosen,  would it be another  'JOB FOR THE BOYS -- OR GIRLS' or would we get some dim wit sports person.

The person that gets this job has to have high morals, so that would exclude and politicians or ex-politicians and their like

I agree pollies should be inelligible but 'high morals' is a judgement call we may all make differently. For me this would bar lawyers, religious reps from all religions and marketing professionals. That said if we can elect our own head of state and have built in safeguards for their removal together  with fixed terms of office and limited powers then we would have more control of our head of state than we have now or have ever had. How about we as a nation grow some balls and live up to the proud, self reliant and capable image we so like to project as Aussie traits. Let's see an Aussie head of state as a true symbol of our independance.

Yes ozirules, seeing the number of people defending Tony Abbot's Queens Birthday gong right now, it's obvious many have different morals from mine. 

It really is time we stopped being forced to have a member of a dysfunctional, inbred, English family as our head of state.

Just a suggestion.

Currently the selection of a Governor-General is a responsibility for the Prime Minister of Australia, who may consult privately with staff or colleagues, or with the monarch. The candidate is approached privately to confirm whether they are willing to accept the appointment. the appointment. Having agreed to the appointment, the monarch then permits it to be publicly announced in advance, usually several months before the end of the current Governor-General's term. The constitution does not set a term of office, so a Governor-General may continue to hold office for any agreed length of time. In recent decades the typical term of office has been five years.

Perhaps in future, the National Cabinet convened for the COVID-19 pandemic could continue and the nominations for an Australian Head of State could come from and be voted on by them or the Australian public could be asked to vote on the nominations. A strict term of office could be determined and a suitable tile could be chosen, be it Governor-General or President.

 

I would hate the PM to be able to pick the GG -- maybe he would have his bestie,  the head of his church, and pedophile protector in the job.   He has pretty keen to have him  -- Brian Houston -- accompany him to the USA

 

Plan B the prime ministers already select the GG they put it to Buckingham Palace/Monarch for approval.

We as a nation should be able to go to the Poll and select out of say seven people one from each state and one from each Territory.  Mind you I don't know why we need one from the ACT!

 

Strange that Mr Bondar - an avowed enthusiastic loyal monarchist, doesn't know the correct way to address the monarch , calling her "Your Highness" when it should be "Your Majesty".

 

To Plan B - the PM currently does pick the GG!

Yes Deborah. The ignorance of some in this discussion is depressing.

Yep, so is the parasocial behaviour (obsession with royaty) of some, LOL

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