Watching the debate on the Monarchy on Q&A

On the eve of the Royal Wedding, there is a very intelligent debate taking place on ABC TV at the moment on Q&A. It will be well worth catching up on iView if you have missed it.

I like listening to the Aboriginal academic Marcia Langton. She talks a lot of sense. Especially when she spoke of the the “traditional” nature of the reserve powers of the Governor General and the subsequent impossibility of codifying these powers. Her background as a native Australian seems to give her an understanding of the importance of “tribal tradition” that we white fellas and sheilas don’t seem to get.

I also can understand (former NSW premier) Bob Carr’s desire for a “simple” solution to the Australian Head of State problem. He says we should simply make a single change to our constitution, namely “declare the Governor General to be Australia’s Head of State”. Sounds fine, but the problem is that this would encroach on the independance of the States, as they are governed by Parliaments appointed by Governors who are representatives of our Head of State, ie. the Queen. If the Governor General were the Head of State, the Governors of the States would be representatives of said Governor General, thus putting the State Governments UNDER the Federal Government. This would be a major change to our current political structure in Australia.

May I remind readers of SCE that there is a simple solution? Whether you call it an “elective constitutional monarchy” or an “indirectly elected life presidency” (I prefer the previous designation), I have my own proposition in the side-bar of this ‘ere blog. I think it would work. No one seems to agree, though.

As I said to my kids tonight, I am a monarchist, but not a royalist. I don’t particularly care WHICH monarchy has the job, whether they are English or Australian or Aboriginal or what, as long as we DO have a monarchical system. Even Bob Carr can see that it would be a recipe for disaster to have a directly elected president on the American model.

About Schütz

I am a PhD candidate & sessional academic at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia. After almost 10 years in ministry as a Lutheran pastor, I was received into the Catholic Church in 2003. I worked for the Archdiocese of Melbourne for 18 years in Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations. I have been editor of Gesher for the Council of Christians & Jews and am guest editor of the historical journal “Footprints”. I have a passion for pilgrimage and pioneered the MacKillop Woods Way.
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6 Responses to Watching the debate on the Monarchy on Q&A

  1. John Nolan says:

    Interesting. HM as Supreme Governor of the CofE seems to be last staunch Protestant in an institution manned and womanned by crypto-catholics and agnostics. My memories of Anglican worship were of a dignified and stately, if non-sacramental form; nowadays it is mostly happy-clappy.

    All the same, I would like to like to see you Aussies stay in the Empire – forget the Pacific rim nonsense, who wants to be swallowed up by China whose knowledge of cricket is abysmal?

  2. russell briese says:

    what really hit me last night was how displeased people in this fair land would be to have yet another pollie elected, appointed or whatever, as president, or whatever. Or at least that was how I ‘felt.’

  3. PM says:

    If you’ll allow me to go off on a tangent, the time is long past when Catholics should with for the disestablisment of the Church of England in England. To do that now would play into the hands of the Ditchkinite/secularist campaign to expunge Britain’s Christian heritage – which is still important to the rest of the world. We could even learn a thing or two, 45 years too late, about how to do vernacular liturgy.

  4. John Nolan says:

    Faith of our Fathers, Mary’s prayers will win our country back to thee; and through the truth that comes from God, England shall then indeed be free. [Fr Faber]

    O holy Mary, Mother of God, and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England, thy Dowry, and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. By thee it was that Jesus, our Saviour and our Hope, was given unto the world, and he has given thee to us that we might hope still more. Plead for us, thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the cross, O sorrowful Mother. Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true true fold, they may be united to the chief shepherd, the vicar of thy Son. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works, we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee in our heavenly home. Amen.

    Still prayed in Catholic churches up and down the land. England as Our Lady’s Dowry dates from the reign of Richard II (1377-1399).

  5. Tony Bartel says:


    If we elected a President, I agree that we would probably get a politician as President. and as Baroness Thatcher correctly observed:

    “Anyone who favors an elected politician as a head of state over an hereditary monarch hasn’t met very many politicians.”

    However, if the President was appointed with the consent of a two-thirds majority of federal parliament, then it is likely that the President would not be a politician, as has been the case with most recent Governor-Generals.

    That model, however, was rejected at the last referendum, so it looks like we have a stalemate.

    I favour a Republic, but I accept that at the end of the day most Australians are pragmatic and will not vote to change a system if it will bring no clear advantages to their everyday lives and will bring uncertainty into the political life of the nation.

  6. Alexander says:

    I am perhaps the only critic of Elizabeth II per se as Queen of Australia; I think she’s done an apalling job as our Queen because in her mind she is Queen first of the UK, no matter the constitution (of the three times I known of that she’s been actively involved in Australian politics, she has always taken a course which demonstrates she does not like the divided crown). The only real solution to this is to domesticate the office. But does that mean we should be a republic, be it elected or appointed?

    I prefer the idea that we should pick a monarch from a junior branch of the royal family. In the spirit of the royal wedding (and given the age of any other candidate) I would suggest the successor to a future King William would be his firstborn child if he fathers a daughter before a son, or otherwise his secondborn child. Once the child has reached a reasonable age (say 25 years) they would serve as a Governor or Governor-General for five year stints. The tourism an Australian king could bring from other countries would be well-worth the extra costs; no-one comes to see a President.

    Of course, I am one of all of three people who actually like this idea.

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