Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Is there any advantage in Australia changing to a Republic?

Extract from:
An opinion column from the national convenor

World legal authority warns on politicians' republic

There would be few people more qualified person to make an assessment of the value of our constitutional system, compared with others, than Belgian born Professor GabriĆ«l A. Moens. Professor Moens is respected around the world for his research into and study of the world’s major legal systems, including the law of the European Union. He is one of those rare lawyers who is not only at home in, but who is expert in both the common law and the civil law. Since 2005, Professor Moens has been Dean of Law at Murdoch University in Perth, having held teaching and research positions in leading Australian, European and American Law Schools. An award-winning teacher of law (including being the co-winner of the 1999 Australian Award for University Teaching in law and legal studies), Professor Moens is a noted author, with an extensive publications record, including the co-authorship of The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia Annotated, 7th edition, 2007, several other books and over 40 major articles in law journals of international standing. Knighted by His Majesty, King Albert II of Belgium, Professor Moens is a Membre Titulaire of the International Academy of Comparative Law in Paris, and a Fellow and Chartered Arbitrator of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. He also serves as Deputy Secretary-General of the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (ACICA) and Director, The College of Law Western Australia.

...Professor Moens considered assessment of the Australian constitutional system...

In the course of his address, Professor Moens observed that those who wish to transform Australia into a republic should be reminded that the American Constitution is twice as old as Australia's, and that few Americans would call for a drastic change of it. Rather, Americans see the longevity of their written constitution as a positive indication that that legal document is working properly."He said that Australia's constitutional monarchy exercises an important role in protecting the people from political arbitrariness. The monarchy, he said, exists to keep the constitutional order protected against arbitrary government. Indeed, while the monarch or her representative reigns but not rules, 'there is no space waiting to be occupied by a populist, dangerous demagogue'. "There is no deficiency in the constitutional system of Australia that a change to a republic could possibly remedy. Rather, a change to a republic would be excessively complex, if not traumatic for the nation. Although it offers no advantages over a constitutional monarchy, any change to a republic would certainly involve the greatest leap into political, legal, and constitutional darkness that this country has ever experienced."Professor Moens' paper is included in the current issue of one of the ACM journals, The Australian Constitutional Defender. This contains a range of relevant comments and expert articles on issues concerning the governance of Australia. The Defender is fast becoming compulsory reading for anyone interested in these issues. We are now in the process of sending The Defender to all the ACM mailing list. If you are interested in seeing a copy, just send an email to ACM asking us to send you a copy of The Defender.

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