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The History Behind the Book (From the Author's Preface).

This book has its genesis in the speeches of two debates, the first of which was held in September 1992 in the Legislative Council Chamber of Queensland's Old Parliament House. In that chamber, itself a dignified casualty of misguided constitutional "reform", the author appeared on behalf of the Queensland branch of the Royal Commonwealth Society against members of what was then known as the Australian Republican Party, to argue in favour of retention of the Crown. The second debate occurred four months later in the bleak English January of 1993, in the rooms of Wadham College, Oxford, during the World Universities Debating Championships. There he was required to devise a passionate defence of republicanism, and denounce constitutional monarchy in the United Kingdom and Australia. The unusual experience of having argued both sides of the debate, having endeavoured to construct the strongest possible case for each side, left him a confirmed constitutional monarchist. This manuscript was embarked upon to explain the reasons for this.
 

It swiftly grew to be a more impassioned and polemical work than a mere "explanation". The more research undertaken, the more the implications of a republic were contemplated, the more the manuscript acquired the nature of a vehement exposition of argument and belief, a political manifesto advocating retention of the constitutional monarchy. In Leviathan, the political philosopher Thomas Hobbes once described the state of "nature", the plight of humans without ordered society, as being a condition "where every man is enemy to every man... continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short". Yet many ordered societies create circumstances which fulfil this description: not only the totalitarian regimes which have disgraced the face of this earth throughout the 20th Century, and in places like Chinese-occupied Tibet continue to do so, but also societies under democratic constitutions. A long walk through the streets of West South-Central Los Angeles (it can be done, if you're as foolish as this writer in attempting it) irresistibly summons Hobbes' description to mind. Although the misery of South-Central and inner cities like it throughout the United States are in large part due to the profound inequities which exist in that society, they also owe a great deal to explicit measures adopted in the US Constitution— measures like the Second Amendment which, as shall be discussed, were not taken by accident but were instead a calculated risk by its authors, a cool-headed acknowledgment of the dangers posed by a republican form of government. The leaders of the republican movement in Australia are unwilling even to acknowledge such dangers, let alone present the Australian people with attempted solutions.
 

To write a proper work of political philosophy is to endanger public perception of the author's character. History remembers Machiavelli as an Italian cad not because of anything he actually did, but because he was astute enough to realise Italy lay in a lamentable state of disorder and oppression and attempted to devise a theory of politics to remedy this condition, realizing that virtues like compassion and conscience weren't conducive to survival in the Renaissance. For the offence of intellectual honesty, writing down his analysis without sugaring the medicine, this scholar and diplomat has been condemned as being as dark as the tyrants he studied. Monologue, particularly polemical monologue, becomes rapidly a bore. Invoking whatever occult powers of literature a writer can invoke, I have summoned the ghost of Machiavelli to sit opposite me while I write this manuscript: to interject from time to time, and to keep me company while I write. His presence reminds me whenever I stray, that lucidity of thought is a more potent weapon against oppression than a fistful of warm fuzzy sentiment.
 

At the moment it isn't intellectually fashionable— particularly among the sort of people who find nothing incongruous in the phrase "intellectually fashionable"— to oppose republicanism. But ambiguity dwells in the very word "republicanism", thrown about so casually in the popular press. One must distinguish between a republican form of government, and what might be described as the republican ideal. The republican form of government, so eagerly championed by the Australian Republican Movement, is to extinguish the hereditary component of the Crown and invest (in the minimalist model) all the powers of the Crown in a figure elected either by Parliament or the nation. In the more radical republican models these powers of the Crown are themselves to be dismantled, so that the Prime Minister acquires more power. The republican ideal (res publica , government for the public good) on the other hand is perhaps best summed up in Abraham Lincoln's words in his Gettysburg address as being government "...of the people, by the people, for the people".
 

It is this ideal which is the valuable part of the constitutional debate, for the republican form of government is only valuable if it enhances this democratic ideal in our society. The central proposition to this book is that a republican form of government imposed upon Australia will not only fail to enhance this ideal, but may very well destroy democratic government in this country as it has been destroyed in so many other countries throughout the world.

Underneath this manifesto rests the proposition that the Crown of the Westminster system, represented in various form throughout the world, is no mere relic imposed by history but can and should be defended in contemporary times and terms as an intrinsically valuable component of the parliamentary government of sovereign countries, government established to express the will and preserve the liberties of its citizens. This proposition becomes clearer to be seen when we look away from the class obsessions of Britain, to other countries which possess Queen Elizabeth II as their titular Sovereign; countries which in their constitutions have consciously reconciled the historical legacy of the Westminster system with the objectives of modern government, to compose variations upon the theme of parliamentary democracy.
 

This book was written by an Australian for his fellow citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia, yet it is hoped other citizens, other readers from other countries shall also find something of value in this work. In this century the word Commonwealth has acquired a new meaning, of a free association of sovereign States who, without sacrificing any of their sovereignty, gather in a congregation inspired not merely by financial gain and trade but by a shared history and a sense of community created by a common legacy. Parliamentary democracy of the Westminster system is a potent part of that legacy for the Commonwealth of Nations, and it is to be hoped the debates and tensions which currently disturb Australian society may shed some light upon the future of political institutions in other Commonwealth countries - and indeed, communities within those countries, such as Northern Ireland and Scotland, themselves immersed in political debate about their constitutional future.
 

Much attention is given in this work to Canada and the opinions of Canadian monarchists. It isn't startling that Canadian threads are woven so conspicuously in this fabric of argument, when an Australian travelling beyond his own shores witnesses another New World monarchy protecting a parliamentary democracy, in a country holding a shared history with his own; with a federal and provincial governments, a written Constitution with a powerful judiciary; a country which committed itself to multiculturalism before his own, and has apparently undergone a more profound metamorphosis from the experience; a country also under Queen Elizabeth II, but as Queen of Canada wearing the Maple Crown. Despite their apparent similarities the Crowns of Canada and Australia hold different implications, for the constitutions (and hence the power structures which bind citizens) of the two countries are different. In comparing political experiences upon the soil of these sister countries both accord and dissonance yield enlightenment, irrespective of the accents with which we speak.
 

A point of difference between the three countries of the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia lies in the power invested in their judiciaries. In the republican debate in Australia there's a subconscious awareness that in dismantling the powers of the Crown, some power residing in the Crown must nonetheless be placed beyond the reach of politicians. As a consequence, what we are actually witnessing in debate isn't the establishment of a republican parliamentary democracy, but a judicial aristocracy in a republic. In saying this, something very different is meant to the figure of Lord Denning in his wig and gown. By "judicial aristocracy" I mean a council tenured for life, endowed with power beyond that based on their authority in law and able to wield unaccountable political power in an executive or legislative manner. The actions of our judges are not hedged about with the safeguards we have placed about our executive government, such as the responsibility of cabinet ministers to Parliament, nor are they subject to the punishments we impose upon our legislature, the threat of members being dragged from their seats by an angry constituency enraged at the passage of bad law. Nor would it be appropriate to surround judges in their usual capacity with such constraints. Citizens' liberties rely in large part upon the presence of competent and independent judges, so these are appointed on the basis of legal expertise, not popularity, and once appointed are difficult to remove; the most important kind of judicial independence is independence from political pressure exerted by the dominant faction in Parliament. Those qualities required for an effective judiciary acting in its ordinary capacity, upholding the integrity of law, render judges totally unacceptable for extraordinary duties which would poison ordinary judicial integrity, and hence poison the integrity of law.
 

To retain coherency of argument one must adhere to a consistent world view, but such audacity immediately carries the stigma of being an "ist" or an "ite". I'll therefore nail my colours to the mast right now as (for want of a better description) a "Forseyite monarchist"— what this means shall become clear— and shall argue as such throughout this book.The first (and I hope, the only) casualty of this clarity shall be the opinions of a small clique of constitutional lawyers whose opinions have of late been remarkably fashionable in the popular Press. They shall doubtless feel their opinions to be dreadfully neglected by this book. I confess this was deliberate: their so-called "modern" views are divided from those of the Forseyite monarchists by an enormous conceptual gulf, upon the far side of which are perched their legal opinions. In reality their doctrines are vintage 19th Century, whereby the struggle is between an hereditary Crown (represented by an aristocratic viceregal figure) and elected politicians representing democratic government, so the more progressive Constitution has the Crown more marginalised— or deleted altogether.
 

In contrast, the Forseyite view is that this struggle is dead. It has been dead for almost an entire century. The real struggle in our representative democracy is between elected politicians and the people, and it's a struggle in which the remaining residual powers of the Crown are of enormous value in protecting the people and their interests, when properly invoked. How and when these powers should be invoked is the crucial question confronting our modern democracy.
 

Comprehending the role of the Crown in the Westminster system requires looking further abroad than the United Kingdom. During the twentieth century the purpose of the Crown in upholding parliamentary democracy has gained far clearer definition from the experiences of other parliaments throughout the Commonwealth than from that parliament physically residing in the Palace of Westminster. This has happened to such an extent that it can be said the role of the Crown can no longer be understood simply by looking at British experiences. An illustration of this occurred in 1950, when an argument was waged among constitutional authorities as to whether the King held the right to refuse a dissolution of the British House of Commons to his incumbent prime minister. The battlefield was the letters page of The Times; the protagonists concentrated on British events: what Asquith said early this century, what Queen Victoria was advised to do or not to do by Lord Aberdeen last century. There appears to have been no awareness among the majority of them that the most systematic and authoritative study on this question had been performed by a Canadian at Oxford in 1943, a study that required assessment of events throughout the Commonwealth realms. The exception was the most authoritative letter written; by Sir Alan Lascelles, Private Secretary to King George VI. Although not mentioning the Canadian by name, Lascelles' summary of the King's discretionary power was consonant with this study, and explicitly cited events in Canada and South Africa as illustrations.


Understanding modern institutions of Parliament and the Crown requires understanding political history, and this in turn requires access to voices of the living and voices of the dead. For the latter, to be heard in books, I am deeply grateful to my father in Brisbane for his encouragement, patience and support (particularly after I ransacked his law library); to Don Markwell in Oxford, through whose hospitality I gained access to the priceless repository of documents in the Bodleian Library during my stay at Merton College; and to the Australia-Britain Society who, after deciding the manuscript was of mutual importance to the two countries, granted me a Menzies Scholarship to pursue research in the United Kingdom. Of the voices of the living: this manuscript has passed through the hands of a number of constitutional and political authorities who have been kind enough to read drafts of it and offer constructive criticism. In particular I would like to thank the following people:


His Excellency the Hon. Sir Walter Campbell AC QC, Governor of Queensland (1985-92), Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland (1982-85), Judge of the Supreme Court (1967-85).

The Hon. Sir James Killen KCMG, Barrister-at-Law; Minister for the Navy (1967-71), Minister for Defence (1975-82), Vice-President of Executive Council and Leader, House of Representatives, Commonwealth of Australia (1982-1983).

Peter McDermott, Queensland Law Reform Commissioner; former Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Queensland Law School; Barrister-at-Law.

Professor Don Markwell, Warden of Trinity College, University of Melbourne; former Fellow and Tutor in Politics, Merton College, Oxford; Queensland Rhodes Scholar.

Colonel the Hon. John Greenwood RFD QC, Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly (1974-1983), Cabinet Minister (1976-1980); Delegate to Australian Constitutional Conventions (Hobart 1976, Adelaide 1983); former Army Judge Advocate and member, Reviewing Judge Advocates Panel, Australian Defence Forces; counsel in constitutional cases before the High Court of Australia and the Privy Council in London.


Thanks also to
J.R. Lucas, Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy, Merton College, Oxford, for his encouragement and discussions. To all these people, my long-suffering mother and sisters, and my friends who have endured my opinion argued over in coffee-shops and bars in Brisbane, Melbourne, Oxford and London, my warmest gratitude and thanks.

The opinions (and any errors) residing in this work are my own, but the inspiration, encouragement and support required to write this manuscript came from them.


Author's Notes: 
This is an extract from my Preface to the book, as published.  

I note with regret that both Sir Walter Campbell and Sir James Killen have since deceased; their contributions, encouragement  and support  during the  writing of this book were invaluable.
 




Further background reading:

Greenwood, N.J.C, For the Sovereignty of the People (Australian Academic Press, 1999);


The following books may also be of interest (see Sovereignty's bibliography for a full listing):

Forsey, E.A., The Royal Power of Dissolution of Parliament in the British Commonwealth (revised reprint), Oxford University Press, Toronto 1968; 

Hobbes, T., Leviathan, Blackwell, London [date of this edition unknown];

Machiavelli, N., The Prince (translated Leo Paul S. de Alvarez), revised edition, University of Dallas Press, Irving, Texas 1984;

Machiavelli, N., The Prince and the Discourses, Random House, New York 1950;

Madison, J. (ed.), The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America, Oxford University Press, 1920.