Keating calls new republic proposal a dangerous ‘American-style presidency’

The ARM proposal involves each state and territory parliament selecting one candidate and the federal parliament selecting three, with the shortlist of 11 names then going to an election.

ARM chairman Peter FitzSimons, who is also a Herald columnist, said the model was deliberately designed not to resemble an American-style presidency, and that the head of state would not even have the power to remove a prime minister who retained the confidence of the House representatives.

“I’m frankly stunned that he (Keating) could make this assessment based on what we presented,” said Mr. FitzSimons. “He’s attacking something that’s not there from a distance.

“Even though some might not like him, he was the pivot we had to have. “

Anne Twomey, professor of constitutional law at the University of Sydney, said the model was a “plausible proposition”, although potentially cumbersome given the number of applicants.

Professor Twomey, who was consulted on a first draft of the plan but chose not to join ARM’s expert advisory body, said the proposal attempted to reduce the power of the head of state, but that it remained problematic given the structure of government.

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“If you have an elected head of state, the biggest concern is that he has a mandate from the people and that mandate of a directly elected head of state would trump the mandate of the prime minister who is not directly elected by the people, ”she declared. .

Professor Twomey said the type of person most Australians want as head of state – a prominent non-politician – was unlikely to undergo the “pretty brutal” process of an election unless culture, advertising and campaign finance rules are changed. .

“The difficulty is how to actually handle this kind of election so that you don’t end up with something that is run and funded by politicians, or a situation where the candidate has to be rich,” she said. .

Author Thomas Keneally, ARM’s founding president in 1991, said the model was a “courageous attempt” to unite supporters of a directly elected head of state and those who wanted Parliament to choose, even if he risked pleasing anyone.

“Is he getting far enough away from [the] 1999 [proposal] satisfy everyone? I just don’t know,” he said. “I’m glad they’re trying though.”

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