An Australian Republic?

Buat yang masih penasaran dan bingung tentang status Australia:

  • Apakah Australia sudah merdeka? Kalo udah merdeka, kapan hari kemerdekaannya ?
  • Atau apakah Australia itu masih jajahan Inggris ?
  • Kalo bukan jajahan Inggris, apa posisinya Inggris bagi Australia ?

Buat yang berminat, ada tulisannya Peter Bosco di On Dit, majalah kampus Uni Adelaide yang ngebahas soal ini. Silahkan dibaca atau bisa donlot langsung majalah On Dit di sini.


An Australian Republic

The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (Imp), a British Act of Parliament, creates Australia as a constitutional monarchy. This means that the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state, with the Prime Minister as the head of government. Lately the republican debate has resurfaced after nine years of hiding. A republic is a state in which sovereignty is derived from the people.

With the passing of the Australia Act 1986 (Imp), British power to legislate for Australia formally came to an end. It also saw the High Court and not the (British) Privy Council become the final and highest court of appeal “in the land”. For constitutional and legal purposes the United Kingdom is now considered a foreign power and has no legal power over Australia. This was made clear by the High Court in Sue v Hill (1999) 199 CLR 462. Technically speaking then, Australia is a republic – it is a fully independent, sovereign nation.

Australians govern themselves through elected oficials and can only change the constitution via referendum. However Australia retains the Queen as the head of state (not the Governor-General, who is the Queen’s representative) and republicans argue that Australia should remove the monarch as the head of state and replace the position with an Australian President.

Further to this, some argue that republicanism should encompass more than just replacing the monarch, the so-called ‘minimalist’ view. There exists debate that Australia should adopt a U.S. style President and combine the head of government and head of state in one person. This would involve a drastic overhaul of government in Australia. Some have also argued that Australia cannot be a republic unless and until the constitution is re-enacted as an Australian Act. The constitution needs to be re-enacted as an ‘autochthonous’ constitution which has force through its own native authority, not because it was enacted by the UK Parliament. However the popular movement seems to be to simply replace the monarch with a President.

This is the issue that went to referendum on 6 November 1999. Two questions were asked:

  1. To alter the Constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic with the Queen and the Governor General being replaced by a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament; and
  2. To alter the Constitution to insert a new preamble.

Both questions failed nationally and in all States and Territories, except the ACT who voted yes for question one. Under this model Australians would nominate a President, the votes would be short-listed by the Prime Minister and Parliament would then elect the President. Many reasons were put forward as to why the referendum failed. Largely though, many were unimpressed with the appointment process of the President. And of course, others wanted the monarch to remain. Of the appointment models devised, the one put to the people for referendum was arguably the most unpopular, as it removed the people from having a direct say in who became the President.

With a republic back on the agenda, the issue of appointment will need to be considered, as this is arguably the most controversial point. Determining the most popular way to appoint is dificult. The Prime Minister, the Parliament and the people all have the capacity to appoint the President. If the Prime Minister appoints the President it is essentially the same now with the Governor-General. Appointment by Parliament is said to be democratic because elected oficials appoint the head of state, but will ultimately result in a political appointment by the government of the day – a puppet President. Others want the people themselves to appoint the head of state.

This is said to be entirely democratic and allows the people a voice in the process, but can see ‘interest groups’ with resources and power mounting wide political campaigns for their candidate of choice. Each has their advantages, each has their laws.

Many people support (and continue to support) the status quo and do not want a republic. Many arguments are put forward by monarchists for retaining the monarch as the head of state, including “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”; that the status quo works ine; that immigrants from shattered republics came to Australia, a constitutional monarchy, for its stability; that if you abolish the rules of the Crown which bind the Governor-General, you may have an ‘activist’ or ‘political’ President; that Australia’s political stability under the current system was the envy of many other countries; and that the Governor-General was “effectively” Australia’s head of state.

Republican arguments include building nationhood; recognising Australia was developed from various cultures; that the Crown is a symbol of oppression for Aboriginal Australians; the current system is outdated; a hereditary ofice is un-Australian; and that the head of state should be someone who epitomises what Australia has become – a strong, robust and proud country.

Tentang Maman Firmansyah

Seorang pegawai yang gak jelas kerjaannya, selain apa yang disuruh atasan. Suami dari seorang istri dan ayah dari dua orang anak.
Pos ini dipublikasikan di Life in Adelaide. Tandai permalink.

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