Talk:Australia/Archive 2

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Republic: "A state in which the supreme power rests in the people and their elected representatives or officers, as opposed to one governed by a king or the like". Shorter Oxford Dictionary. No king = republic. King = not a republic. Seems pretty clear to me. Tannin 06:46 Feb 11, 2003 (UTC)

I don't see anything in your definition that says that a republic can't have a king, just that the king doesn't rule. What's wrong with that? -- Zoe

Thank you Zoe, yes indeed. He also forgets that a "commonwealth" is by definition a "Republic".

Is it? I don't think anybody could reasonably argue that the Commonwealth of Nations is a republic...
--Paul A 07:53 Feb 13, 2003 (UTC)

It is possible to be a republic and be part of the British Commonwealth - India is just that. Australia is not.

The queen is the head of state of Australia (and represented by the Governor-General). Australia is not a republic. Daeron will need to take a close look at the Australian Constitution. If he keeps up this "Australia is a republic" stance , he'll get reported as an annoying user. Arno 06:59 Feb 11, 2003 (UTC)

Get it through your head, we can apoint 'Micky Mouse' as the Head of State

to meet visiting heads of state from other countries. That still doesn't change the fact that Australia is a republic governed by representatives elected by the people of Australia.

Your fantasy that Australia is a monarchy because it choses to use a royal linerage as the official head of state, is laughable.

In theory, as power has moved from absolute monarchs to parliamentary systems under constitutional monarchies, all democratic states are republics, ie, ruled by their republics. So the definition is now explicitly linked to the issue of the manner in which a head of state is chosen. States where some method of democratic election the head of state exists are defined as republics. States where there is no democratic selection, but the head of state, a monarch holds office by inheritance are taken by definition to be monarchies; the only exceptions are where there are a number of royal families and they between them elect one of their own to be monarch. But in those states, the people have no role in selecting the monarch, it is merely a choice made by the royal families. One or two such states exist. So in reality, Zoe, a republic cannot have a king. That's a basic point taught in every political science textbook. Australia, as its own laws and its constitution states, has a monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Therefore it is a monarchy. And as power resides in a government (albeit acting in the Crown's name) answerable to parliament, it is a constitutional monarchy. Whether it should be is a different matter. But it is, and will remain a constitutional monarchy until a referendum changes the constitutution to replace an inherited throne by a head of state elected in some manner. JTD 07:01 Feb 11, 2003 (UTC)

Republic: "a state whose head is not a monarch". The Penguin reference dictionary. Can't get much clearer than that.

Commonwealth: The body politic: the state, esp viewed as a body in which the whole people have a voice or an interest. SOED. Tannin 07:02 Feb 11, 2003 (UTC)

Commonwealth: n. republic; (C-) federation of self-governing states;
(C-) official designation of Australia.

Collins Australian English Dictionary

ISBN 0 00 458361 2
Published: 1902, 1936, 1954, 1963, 1981, 1985, 1987
Australian Edition Published 1981, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992

commonwealth, n.
1. the group of people who make up a nation; citizens of a state.
2. a democratic state; republic.
3. any one of the states of the United States.
The official title of four states (Kentucky, Massachusetts,
Pennsylvania, and Virginia) is Commonwealth.

LCC: 78-88577

Yup: that's what a commonwealth is allright. No doubt about it, Australia is a commonwealth. Or, to put the whole thing in a nutshell, the Commonwealth of Australia is a constitutional monarchy. Which is exactly what the entry says now. Seeing this bit is right, let's leave it this way. Tannin 10:19 Feb 11, 2003 (UTC)
So you admit that Australia is a REPUBLIC. A state where the people or their elected representatives govern the country. Nothing to do with whether there are or are not monarchs on the planet.
IF (head of state) = (monarch) THEN (form of government) = (monarchy). Seriously, how difficult is this to understand? Tannin 11:39 Feb 11, 2003 (UTC)
(head of state) = person at tea-party
(form of government) = who rules = elected representatives.

Seriously, how difficult is this to understand? The Queen could jump up and down outside a SS or any other office and demand the doors open for her - but they won't. She has *less* rights in this country than most anyone else because she isn't even a citizen - she can not vote, give orders, or make any demands. READ a DICTIONARY!!! She is NOT the supreme authority, and you are mis-representing the truth to suit your personal goals.

Monarchy = n. state ruled by sovereign; his rule.

Now STOP trying to trick the world into believing our government is not a republic! A commonwealth is by definition a type of republic, the word republic needs to be added so that some people like you will understand that the voters are the supreme authority in this country.

From "The Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary" (third edition reprint - 1999):


  • a nation in which supreme power is held by the people or their elected representatives or by an elected or nominated president, not by a monarch etc.
You see, supreme power is not held by a monarch
She can't open a Fish&Chip shop, she has no authority nor control.


  • a form of government with the monarch at the head;
  • a nation with this.
at the head as in control of government!

In my own country, Belgium, supreme power is held by the elected representatives of the people (the prime minister and his cabinet). We do have a king, but his role is overwhelmingly ceremonial. According to the given definition of republic my country is a republic. According to the given definition of monarchy my country is not a monarchy (the king is a head of state, not a head of government). I have never ever heard or read anyone refer to it as such. Officially, Belgium is a constitutional monarchy. It is also the first time I see a reference to Australia being a republic (at the present time). I seriously doubt that the definitions given in the dictionaries are the same as what is generally understood to be a republic and a monarchy. Dictionaries should follow common usage, not dictate it. D.D. 11:55 Feb 11, 2003 (UTC)

Your first problem is that you have fixated the US model as meaning "republic" in your mind. A republic merely means that utimate authority lies with the people or their representives, anything else is an extension like a "constitutional monarchy" instead of "monarchy". I never said Australia had a 'Presidental Republic', just a Republic form of government.
I am an Australian and Australia is refered to as a commonwealth and republic all the time. I've never once heard anyone talk about what law or budget the monarch is going to decide upon - because its not her position to do so in our government - it's a republic. Likewise you may be familiar with Kangaroos jumping down the streets of Sydney -- but actually living here I know that is a fiction.
Trust me, I know that your last statement is a fiction too. During 3 separate visits I've spent about a year travelling around Australia. I've probably been to a lot of places in your country you haven't even heard of :-) But, anyway, that's beside the point. I just wanted to put things straight that I haven't got this caricaturesque vision of Australia in my mind. D.D. 15:27 Feb 11, 2003 (UTC)
I'm a little confused by your comment, DD. As you say, Belgium is a constitutional monarchy just like Australia. I have always assumed that the King has two roles (a) do nothing and let the elected Prime Minister govern (except in very special circumstances), and (b) open bridges, kiss babies, and attend important funerals. If you read the given definitions, they are perfectly clear: a republic has a form of government where supreme power is held by an elected representative of the people. A monarchy has a form of government where supreme power is held by a king (or queen, prince, whatever). Most modern monarchies are, like Belgium and Australia, constitutional monarchies, where the king holds power in theory (and could actually exercise it as a last resort) but in practice only acts on the advice of the head of government (the prime minister or equivalent). There seems to be nothing wrong with the definitions. Where is the problem you see? Tannin 12:13 Feb 11, 2003 (UTC)

The problem is this:

  • The king is not the head of government (see definition of monarchy and your reply), but the head of state. In a number of countries these two positions are held by one and the same person. Not in Australia and not in Belgium.
  • You say that "... where the king holds power in theory (and could actually exercise it as a last resort) but in practice only acts on the advice of the head of government ..." I do not agree on the part between brackets ("and could actually exercise it as a last resort"). Governor-general John Kerr who represented Queen Elizabeth II in Australia did just that in 1975 by dismissing the Gough Whitlam government. I honestly don't know if the Belgian king has the power to dismiss the government. A few years ago an abortion law was passed by our parliament. Constitutionally, our former king, Baudouin I had to give his assent to it, but he couldn't because he had a personal conscience problem. A solution was then devised, and for one day the king was judged "unable to reign". The law was passed without the formal approval of the king, and the next day he could "reign" again. To me, that doesn't sound as if the king can exercise power as a last resort. He has to do what the government tells him to do, otherwise he risks to saddle the country with a constitutional crisis. All that to say that supreme power lies not with the monarch (not even as a last resort) but with the elected representatives.

Perhaps there is a difference between the Australian (British) and the Belgian monarchies. But, by all means, Australia is a constitutional monarchy, not (yet) a republic. D.D. 12:57 Feb 11, 2003 (UTC)

Yes, just so. There are republics that have the HofG and the HofS in the same person, others that have the two roles seperate.
Kerr's sin was that he broke the rules and used his theoretical power. Some people argue that the circumstance was such that Kerr had little choice and did as best he could in a difficult situation, but his actions caused a storm of bitter controversy which endures to this day. (Don't trust the Wikipedia entry on Gough Whitlam - it's riddled with JTD's erudite but badly mistaken views from 10,000 milies away - I must get back to GW and fix it one day.) As soon as he retired, Kerr was hounded out of the country: spat on, shouted down at public meetings, hated in a way that ordinary politicians are not. The closest thing I can use to describe the way people on the left of politics felt (and to some extent still do feel) about Kerr as opposed to Malcolm Fraser or other players in the drama of 1975 would be to compare it to the difference between the way people here felt about the Germans or the Turks in WWI (hated them, maybe, but respected them too as worthy enemies) and the way they felt about the Japanese in WW2 after their appalling atrocities became public knowledge (a much more visceral and viscious hatred, with no trace of respect at all). Kerr was hated like a traitor: like an umpire who cheats, or a policeman who takes bribes: in the view of many Australians he was paid to enforce fair play, it was his job and he betrayed that trust. Politicians are generally expected to be dishonest and unscrupulous, Governer Generals are not. Although many people supported Kerr's action (essentially, most of those on the side of politics that benefted) the rage that many Australians felt was such that no Governer General would ever dare repeat the stunt. Fair dinkum, it would risk civil war.

UTC, are you labour voter still upset about that?

Actually, I've never voted Labor in my life. But I know how Labor people feel about the matter. They will never forget it, not until the people who were there at the time all die off. Tannin

1) The Governor-general and NOT the Queen is able to exercise that power. There is no precedent for it and it would never be recognised. She has no control not even to say deal another hand. 2) That power is STILL subject to the people because th GG would be out on his ear if he made a wrong call. As it happened, the ALP lost that election with the largest majority in Australian history against it.

The Queen has no control of the governments decisions or powers. By all means, Australia is a republic which uses the term "constitutional monarchy" because it was a hundred years ago. You can no longer appeal to the privy council nor does England appoint our Governor Generals - those days are long since gone and the people are the supreme authority in this country, a republic.

Why is West Papua talked about like it is a separate country? it is still part of Indonesia as far as i'm aware

PMelvilleAustin 15:23 Feb 11, 2003 (UTC)

West Papua? Huh? Where does the Australia article talk about West Papua? (But, to answer your question, yes, it is part of Indonesia, according to the Indonesians, at any rate. According to the people who live there, so far as can be discovered, it is an occupied territory of the Javanese Empire. There is a Wikipedia entry on it somewhere which goes into a moderate amount of detail.) Tannin (Ahh - come to think of it, isn't that part of the world your specialty, PMA?)
OK, I found it. I'm not sure that it wasn't better the way it was, actually. I think that the position of West Irian could become a very significant factor one day. Tannin

I've seen some bizarre arguments on Wiki, but arguing that Australia is a republic has got to be the most bizzare, factually incorrect to date. For the record, I'm done some formal checking with sources.

It is not bizarre, clearly you are not an Australian all of whom should be familiar with the issues.'
As a study guide for you I would suggest you refer to: 2001/comment37.htm (perhaps you understand what the corowa conference was?) If you understood the political motives involved, it would help you understand that any attempt to ridicule the subject is inhertantly dishonest. FYI: the stated prime aim of the Australian Republican Movement is working to ensure Australia becomes a Republic with an Australian as Head of State. Do you understand that sentence? It is about removing the 'Head of State', nothing to do with the actual government or how the land is governed. Do you understand that a two party country has roughly a 50/50 voter split between ALP and Coalition - that when the most holy of holies an ALP Prime Minister swears that the position of Governor General will be destroyed for dismissing the Whitlam government, that it becomes the duty of every ALP supporter to support the removal of that position. That's why 50% of the country rattles on about 'the need to remove the Governor General'.
  • Australian Embassy in Dublin. 'Australia = constitutional Monarchy'
  • Prime Minister's office, Canberra 'Australia = constitutional monarchy'
  • Encyclopedias
    • Encyclopedia Brittianica 'Australia = constitutional monarchy'
    • World Book 'Australia = 'constitutional monarchy'
  • One of the leading republicans in Australia 'Australia = constitutional monarchy'
  • My own professor of Politics "what idiot thinks Australia is a republic? It is a constitutional monarchy. Tell him to read the Australian constitution."
  • Australian history lecturer in Dublin 'He thinks what? He needs a brain transplant. Australia is a constitutional monarchy"
  • Second Australian lecturer (and republican activist) - "Is this guy for real? Tell him from me Australia is not a republic, never has been a republic, is not a republic by any proper definition. If he wrote that rubbish in a history exam I set, he'd be laughed out of the exam hall. Are you sure this isn't a practical joke. There cannot be someone that dumb?"
The point of a self-confussed republican activist is to have the position of head of state removed as Gough Whitlam promised in 1975 -- why else did you think it was so politically devisive? Their only hope is to try and hit a nerve by claimimg Australia is ruled by the Queen unless we call ourselves a republic. But the Australian people know that it is already a commonwealth (republic) by fact and practice.
  • Fact sheet on Australia issued by the Dept. of Foreign Affairs 'Australia is a constitutional monarchy.'
  • Briefing document prepared by Australian republicans before referendum. "Australia remains a constitutional monarchy, hence the need for this referendum."

If it is a republic, then why did it have a Republic Advisory Committee advising it how to become a republic?

What country have you been living in for twenty years?
They call themselves 'Republic Advisory Committee' because they were meant to investigate possible changes to a commonwealth republic.
I worked as an advisor to the Republic Advisory Committee at one stage, as I did for the Australian govt, the media and campaigners on both sides of the debate. ALL SIDES AGREED THAT AUSTRALIA IS A CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY. Not a single solitary member of the RAC or any republican group said or believed that Australia is a republic. NOT ONE. The scale of your ignorance of constitutional law is staggering.

Why did it have a referendum to become a republic, a referendum that was lost?

Because the country is already a republic and the people did not decide to change the title from 'Commonwealth' to 'Republic', nor to drop the Queen at the cost of creating a social class elite in this country at this time. Any other questions?

Why did leading republicans issue a statement bemoaning the fact that Australia was still not a republic in 2000?



The facts could not be more clearcut. The Commonwealth of Australia is a commonwealth republic with a constitution and monarchy head of state. What is so difficult to understand? The document was written in the offical wording of the day; show me one instruction from the Queen or Britain in the last fifty years, or show me one 'power' that the Queen could enact. Only the Governor General can decide upon or enact his very limited powers; and he is appointed and dismissed by the Prime Minister, an elected representive of the people.
The REASON for the Republic Debate is because young Australians keep getting told & upset by foreign know-it-alls that Australia is a monarchy. It is not a monarchy, it is a constitutional monarchy which is a commonwealth and republic in both tradition and practice.
Q.E.D. Issue closed.

Show one facet of a Republic which Australia does not fullfill; Commonwealth was just the Australian word for republic by the common people for the common good as defined by common usage of those terms (commonwealth and republic) as recorded in every Australian dictionary from 1902 to today.

Ok - lts summarise.

  1. The Australian constitution and Australian law says Australia is a constitutional monarchy.
  2. The Australian government says it is a constitutional monarchy.
  3. Leading republicans like Paul Keating, Malcolm Turnball, and ALL the members of the Republic Advisory Committee say it is a constitutional monarchy.
  4. The RAC's own report said it is a constitutional monarchy.
  5. Its Attorney-General in the republic debate said it is a constitutional monarchy.
  6. It is described as a constitutional monarchy in every international legal document.
  7. Every encyclopedia WITHOUT EXCEPTION says it is a constitutional monarchy.
  8. Every academic (legal, political science, etc) says it is a constitutional monarchy.
  9. The Letter of Credence presented by the Australian Ambassador to the President of Ireland says it is a constitutional monarchy.
  10. Everyone who has visited the page but you say it is a constitutional monarchy.
  11. The diplomatic corp record it as a constitutional monarchy.
  12. By every political science definition it is a constitutional monarchy.

As to dictionaries which you seem so incapable of understanding, they all make clear if you knew how to read them that a commonwealth may be a republic, but a commonweath doesn't automatically mean a republic. As to your claim that Australia is a republic with a queen, that really is scraping the barrel for ideas. A state with a queen by definition is a monarchy. It CANNOT BE A REPUBLIC. Claiming a state with a queen is a republic is as ludicrous as talking about a Jewish Muslim. They are mutually exclusive terms. You cannot be both.

The answer is clear. IT IS A CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY. If you can't grasp that, that is a reflection on you. You need a beginners guide to constitutional law, a beginners guide to political science, a beginners guide to studying history but most of all a beginners guide to elementary cop-on. The issue is closed. JTD 19:52 Feb 11, 2003 (UTC)

Hmmmm... So if Australia is a "republic with a queen", then I guess the United States must be a "monarchy with a president". :) Tannin

heh heh. Nice one, Tannin. JTD 00:06 Feb 12, 2003 (UTC)

Well after reading the above and already knowing the definition of "republic" I am convinced that it is imprecise to say that Australia is a republic since republic-like aspects of its government are covered by the "constitutional" part of "constitutional monarchy". --mav

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

Republic \Re*pub"lic\ (r?-p?b"l?k), n. [F. r['e]publique, L.
  respublica commonwealth; res a thing, an affair + publicus,
  publica, public. See Real, a., and Public.]
  1. Common weal. [Obs.] --B. Jonson.
  2. A state in which the sovereign power resides in the whole
     body of the people, and is exercised by representatives
     elected by them; a commonwealth. Cf. Democracy, 2.

WordNet (r) 1.7

    n 1: a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body
         of citizens who can elect people to represent them [syn:
          democracy, commonwealth] [ant: autocracy]
    2: a form of government whose head of state is not a monarch;
       "the head of state in a republic is usually a president"

In the interests of controversy (I love a good argument! :>), definitions from the full OED (I get access to OED Online, my university has a subscription):


"2. a. A state in which the supreme power rests in the people and their elected representatives or officers, as opposed to one governed by a king or similar ruler; a commonwealth. Now also applied loosely to any state which claims this designation."


"2. A state having a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in a single person. Formerly, also, a nation or state having dominating power over all other states.

absolute or despotic m., a government by the absolute will of the monarch. constitutional m. (see CONSTITUTIONAL a. 4b). elective m., one in which the monarch is determined by election as opposed to heredity. hereditary m., one in which the sovereign power descends by hereditary right. limited m. (see LIMITED 2)."


"b. Of a sovereign: Ruling according to a constitution or constitutional forms which limit his arbitrary power; said also of sovereignty or government so exercised."

I leave interpretation as an exercise for the student... --AW

That is exactly it. According to Australian constitutional law, executive authority is vested in the Crown and exercised by a cabinet called the Executive Council on legal authority of the sovereign, the monarch not in its own authority or on the authority of parliament, which, under your quoted definition, matches - A state having a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in a single person.

Australia's Constitution

Executive Authority

According to Chapter II, Section 61 of The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (63 & 64 Vic)
Chapter II: Section 61.
The executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen and is exercisable by the Governor-General as the Queen's representative, and extends to the execution and maintenancce of this Constitution, and the laws of the Commonwealth.

Chap II Sect 68
The command in chief of the naval and military forces of the Commonwealth is vested in the Governor-General as the Queen's representative.

Legislative Authority

Chapter I: Part I - General:
Section 1: The legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a federal parliament, which shall consist of the Queen, a Senate and a House of Representatives . . .

Section 2: A Governor-General appointed by the Queen shall be Her Majesty's Representative in the Commonwealth, and shall have and have exercise in the Commonwealth during Her Majesty's pleasure, but subject to this Constitution, such powers and functions of the Queen as Her Majesty may be pleased to assign to him.

Section 5: The Governor-General may appoint such times for holding the sessions of the Parliament as he thinks fit, and may also from time to time, by Proclamation or otherwise, prorogue the parliament and may in like manner dissolve the House of Representatives.'


Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, humbling relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in our indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland" . . .

Preamble: Section 1: This Act may be cited as the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act.

Preamble: Section 2: The Provisions of this Act referring to the Queen shall extend to Her Majesty's heirs and successors in the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.


  • Australia is a constitutional monarchy under all definitions;
    • It has a queen
    • Executive authority is vested in the Queen
    • The Queen is part of the Legislature

  • The Governor-General is not a head of state. He/she is the representative of the Queen.
  • The word Commonwealth as created in the 'preamble' (the term isn't used, but that it how that section of the constitution is normally referred to) to describe the federal union created in 1900. The word's meaning depends on its context. As it relates to a 'Commonwealth under the Crown' by definition it cannot mean a republic, because by definition a republic cannot have a crown. (The Commonwealth of Nations, for example, is not a republic.)

The facts speak for themselves. JTD 00:10 Feb 13, 2003 (UTC)


To the individual who insists that Australia is a republic: Would you maintain that Canada and New Zealand should also be considered republics, given that their relationship to the crown are fundamentally the same as Australia's?

Not to mention the United Kingdom itself!!! JTD 02:20 Feb 13, 2003 (UTC)

The ABS has an amusing population page: go to and click "statistics" then "Australia's current population". The population is calculated, projected up to the minute. -- Tim Starling 00:13 Apr 10, 2003 (UTC)

I have removed the external link to "Bibliography for Australian Aboriginal Studies" because it is only indirectly related to the content in the in the Australia article. And it is already linked to by Australian Aborigine. -- Popsracer 05:00, 12 Sep 2003 (UTC)