No real alternative

The recent lively discussion at Quiggin’s blog makes me more than ever convinced that there are just three possible ways this country can resolve the problem of choosing the GG/president.  One is the politicians’ republic à la 1999, a second is politicians’ election, and the other (the only decent way to do it) is Sovereign Appointment

If we take it that the models outlined on page 140 of the 2004 Senate Report cover the field, then the simple PM’s appointment can be ruled out for it has no chance of passing (and no PM will dare put it), and direct election can be ruled out as the politicians will not allow it (see post “Elected Fantasy” below).  Assuming “electoral college” means elite appointment it also won’t wash with the electorate so it, also, will never be attempted.  That leaves two: (i) neo-1999 whereby machine politicians ratify a stooge president for some quid pro quos they bargain over in secret, and (ii) politicians’ election whereby the pollies elect the GG/president from a short field as they do in Germany and Italy. 

Both are forms of  “politicians’ republic” and if put to referendum will meet with bitter opposition from those who favour more sovereignty of the people, ie those who favour a directly elected president.  But with bipartisan support, say a leadership of the flavour of Costello plus Beazley, they would probably get it over the line.  At least, bipartisan support would have succeeded in 1999.  Probably now they would have to wait for a generation to let the memory of 1999 fade.  Even then they will be accused of a divide-and-rule attempt to gather more power to politicians and it will certainly be another dirty referendum with the losers again being very angry. 

And all unnecessary.  The simple consensus alternative is Sovereign Appointment.  Three tiny changes to the constitution passes the present sovereign’s sole power to the people with no side-effects and no impact on anyone’s favourite republic model.       

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