Women Say...on the Republic

Letters to the Editor

From: Jenny Katauskas

To: Australian Letters to the Editor

Greg Craven argues that the Corowa Plan is certain to result in voter preference for direct election. He says that "direct election wilts if it is exposed to intense scrutiny. What it needs to win any contest is a shallow debate with as many distractions as possible to maximise its simple appeal and gloss over its problems".


That is why the Corowa Plan proposes a multi-party Commonwealth Parliament Joint Committee be established to consult the community and constitutional experts to prepare neutral information about all the ways each model might work, possible variations within each model, and repercussions for the conduct of our democracy. Professor Craven shows very little confidence in the ability of the Australian people to subject the models to intense scrutiny, and to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each model before voting.

It will be up to the Joint Parliamentary Committee, public intellectuals like him, the media, the ARM and all who care about this issue to ensure that intense scrutiny and public debate ensues over the next three years before the plebiscite could take place. As he would undoubtedly be one of the constitutional experts who would be consulted, his contribution would be invaluable.

From: Louise Clegg

To: Australian Letters to the Editor

I, like Professor Craven, am also a so-called "conservative" or minimalist republican. I attended the Corowa conference as an ARM delegate. I agree with Professor Craven that the Corowa plan is likely to bring about a directly elected Head of State. For that reason, I did not vote for the Royal Hotel resolution.

But Professor Craven is wrong to criticise the ARM. The ARM Chair, Greg Barns, has said quite clearly that while the ARM supports the Corowa Plan, it does not suggest that it is the only process for resolving the head of state issue. The ARM is now a genuine broad church of republicanism - and, frankly, it had no choice but to support the Corowa plan as one of the many processes which are acceptable to it.

In 1999, John Howard severely (and single-handedly) diminished our chances of becoming a minimalist republic. The failure of 1999 has irrevocably put direct election on the agenda. Political reality almost certainly dictates that any new process must contain a mechanism by which a genuine choice between a minimalist and direct election model is put to the people.

It will then be up to conservative republicans to put their case to the Australian people. And Professor Craven knows that that task will not be easy.

Professor Craven belongs to that class of republican who would rather retain the monarchy unless a republic is achieved precisely in the manner and form that they demand. It is this sort of arrogance which will ensure that achieving our own head of state may still be a distant dream.

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Last modified:
11 May, 2002