Republic? More Power For Politicians (p 1 of 11)
By Dr David Mitchell (An elected delegate to the Constitutional Convention)
The booklet "Republic? The Hidden Agenda" was originally written primarily for the use of delegates to the Constitutional Convention meeting at Old Parliament House, Canberra from the 4th to the 15th of February, 1998. It provided a simple guide to the philosophical and historical background to Australia's governmental structure. Also, it demonstrated that a change to a Republic would change the foundational moral principles of government.
A complimentary copy of "Republic? The Hidden Agenda" was given to every delegate before the Constitutional Convention opened; it was tabled at the earliest opportunity in debate; it received publicity in newspapers and on television; it was referred to in "Hansard" (the minutes of debate provided daily to each delegate); and it was available in the Convention library and media room. However, inquiries after the Convention revealed that many delegates claimed to be unaware of its existence. Of the delegates who acknowledged its existence most admitted they had not read it and one stated he threw it straight in the waste paper basket without opening it. Perhaps many copies ended as waste paper without being read.
Three thousand copies of the first edition were printed so that any interested Australian would have access to an easy-to-read explanation of the background and intention of the present system, an explanation that is particularly needed at this time when proposals for Australia to change its constitutional structure are being discussed. The first edition sold out in a matter of weeks and, to meet a continuing demand, a slightly revised second edition (including reference to decisions of the Constitutional Convention) was produced in April, 1998. Four thousand copies were printed and quickly sold out.
This new booklet is, in effect, a third edition. It has a new name and contains new information. The Bill for an Act to change the Constitution of Australia to institute republican government in this nation was tabled in Parliament in June, 1999. This means the people of Australia are now presumed to know what is intended. Copies of the Bill (Constitution (Establishment of Republic) 1999) are available from The Secretary, Joint Select Committee on the Republic Referendum, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT 2600 or from the internet (htpp//www.aph.gov.au/parlinfo/billsnet/bills.htm). Of course, there will be an extensive advertising campaign by the people the government has appointed to propose change and by those it has appointed to oppose change.
Regrettably, it is unlikely that either side in the official, government sponsored, campaigns will give a full picture of the present system. Also, it is unlikely that either side will fully explain the real implications of the changes and the details of what would be lost by change.
The government has appointed two committees; one to conduct the "yes" campaign and the other to run the "no" campaign. Each of these government appointed committees will receive $7,500,000 from the government for advertising. Many of the members of the "no" committee are avowed republicans. It will not be surprising if the true constitutional monarchists (who appear to be in a minority on the "no" committee) decide that the virtues and advantages of the present system should be hidden so the republicans on the "no" committee will not be offended.
It is sincerely hoped this new edition of "Republic? " will have a sufficiently wide distribution and readership to enable many Australians to have a real understanding of the issues before they cast their votes at the referendum in November 1999.
Like its earlier editions, this edition is not intended as an intellectual or academic treatise. It is intended for the ordinary fair-minded Australian.
Written and authorised by Dr David Mitchell,
18 Proctors Rd. Dynnyrne, Tasmania 7005
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