052_G19_Arena

Global

Arena Governance Tom Bygott, an Australian mathematician currently living in Cambridge, is extremely proud to have Elizabeth II as Queen of Australia. “I don’t think of her as being British, or indeed of any other particular nationality within the Commonwealth. Her role as Queen of Australia, Queen of Canada and, say, Queen of Jamaica have all been admirably performed and she has long resisted being the favourite of one nationality against another,” he says adding that Australia’s constitution was written around a monarchy. “We are ‘one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown’. We cannot become a republic just by replacing the Queen with a president/politician without dire consequences. In our constitution, certain powers that are not explicitly allowed to the federal or state governments are reserved for the Crown. These are called Reserve Powers, and they include the ability to dismiss governments and veto legislation.” Sandra Lee, an Australian author and journalist, believes the benefits to countries like Australia are largely symbolic and historical. “Royal visits are good for trade, tourism and diplomacy. Every royal visit in Australia is greeted with fanfare and the population, mostly, holds the Queen in great affection. Magazines and newspapers revel in the visits, because sales and circulation go up. A royal visit will usually see an increase in tourism to areas the royals have visited,” she says. Lee suggests Australia will eventually become a republic but suspects it could be decades off. “The phenomenon of William and Kate has renewed interest in the royals and, if their recent very successful visit to Australia and New Zealand is any guide, the monarchy will continue as it is.” But not all Australians agree with Lee and Bygott’s view that the monarchy is a force for good in Australia. For Sydney-based lawyer Anne Von Fehrn it seems odd to formally hang on to a symbolic function. “I feel Australia can still continue its emotional and perhaps sentimental attachment with the monarchy as a concept without having them as a formal head of state,” she suggests. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s recent tour of New Zealand appears to have rekindled an interest in the British monarchy, with reports showing that almost three-quarters of respondents in a poll conducted by The Waikato Times were in favour of retaining the Queen as head of state. However, comprehensive surveys conducted by the New Zealand Election Study after each general election between 1999 and 2008 showed voter support for the monarchy was declining. When recently asked about New Zealand retaining the Queen as head of state, Prime Minister John Key said he believed it was inevitable New Zealand would become a republic. New Zealand Herald journalist Verity Johnson wrote in her column in 2013 that “…it’s a little patronizing that England still imposes its Queen on us. It implies that New Zealand is a backward rock, not able or not trustworthy enough to lead itself”. Johnson went on to say the Queen represents an antiquated, arrogant approach to other countries rooted in the assumption that mother England knows best. Yet constitutionally, even in the United Kingdom, the Queen’s role is purely ceremonial. She opens parliament but has no say in British politics, even though she meets with the Prime Minister every week. In law, the government of the day is known as Her Majesty’s Government and the ministers of the four 52 l www.global -br ief ing.org th quar ter 2014 global  Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper with Prince Charles at Fort York Armoury in Toronto, 2012 © PMO/Jason Ransom


Global
To see the actual publication please follow the link above