In this episode I speak with Professor David Flint about constitutional reform. He says that the problem is not how to achieve some politicians’ republic. Rather, he says, there are few problems today which have not been either caused or made worse by the politicians. The sad fact is that the institutions of our representative democracy – one of the world’s oldest – have been compromised. The only solution is to make the politicians truly accountable every day through the tools of direct democracy.
He details four strategies (the Four Rs) to make politicians accountable to the people:
- RECALL: The ability to recall politicians individually or collectively to recontest their seats when a significant percentage of the people demand so via petition
- REFERENDUMS: Binding citizen-initiated referendums, including those to form new states (such as North Queensland), to review and propose legislation, to enter into treaties, and High Court interpretations of the Constitution.
- REFORM: Reform of the political parties to be open & transparent, including selection of party leaders by the party members, not just politicians.
- RETURN: A return to federalism whereby the states raise their own funds, compete with other states and make sovereign decisions as their residents prefer.’
All this, Professor Flint says, can be done without removing the Australian Crown from the Constitution. It should come and can probably only come from an elected convention.
“There are few problems today which have not been either caused or made worse by the politicians.”
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Professor Flint is an emeritus professor of law and was chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Authority and the Australian Press Council, president of the National Federation of the English Speaking Union, Associate Commissioner with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and convenor of the Committee of Australian Law Deans. He has been National Convenor of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy since the 1999 referendum campaign. The author of several books, he has published widely on topics such as the media, international economic law and on the Constitution. At Barcelona in 1991, he received a World Jurist Association award as World Outstanding Legal Scholar. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1995.