With the country returning to normal it is surely time to reflect on how the nation handled the pandemic.
It is unacceptable that decisions of such magnitude as closing down the NSW construction industry at a cost of $1.4 billion, without any supporting health advice, could be effected by a minister alone signing an order in his office.
Such matters would once go to the Executive Council where the governor would need to be assured that what was proposed was within his lawful power to approve. The order would have to be tabled in Parliament where either House could disallow it.
These checks and balances applied in colonial times and even when we were at war.
This is a significant part of the accumulated experience and wisdom which made Australia one of the handful of countries which constitute the world’s oldest continuing democracies.
Australians for Constitutional Monarchy (ACM) fought the 1999 referendum for several reasons. But what was common to us and our allies was that what was being proposed was not so much a republic. Indeed, many of us believe, including John Howard and Tony Abbott, that we are already a republic, a crowned republic. What was on offer in 1999 was a politicians’ republic, in which the normal checks and balances would be significantly diminished. It would have been the only republic in history in which the president would be dismissible by the PM without notice, without grounds and without any right of appeal.
ACM is, as Tony Abbott has declared, ‘the constitution’s fiercest defenders’.
With that in mind, and without taking any position on the various pandemic measures, it will not be surprising that ACM is now calling for a re-examination of the processes of constitutional governance during emergencies.
An opinion from an eminent former judge, the Hon Kenneth Handley QC ,has been posted to the ACM website. This will be a principal theme of the National Conference, the 22nd since the referendum, to be held on 6 December 2021 details of which will soon be posted.
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Professor David Flint AM 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. He has authored books 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. His Good Sauce show,Take Back Your Country, discusses the problems and solutions to the decay of federalism and democracy.
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