The case for codifying the powers of the office of governor-general

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Abstract

Debate on the question of whether Australia should become a republic has
masked a far more important underlying issue, namely whether the
conventions of the office of Governor-General should be codified. The
issues are linked in that opinion polls have consistently shown that if
Australia was to become a republic, voters would prefer a model which
included direct election of a President, yet the risk that an elected
President might breach the conventions of the office has proved to be an
obstacle to its adoption. Codification of the powers of the office would
address this problem. It would also provide an opportunity to clarify
areas of uncertainty that became evident during the constitutional crisis of
1975 and to bring the text of the Constitution into alignment with how
responsible government actually operates. Codification would therefore
be beneficial irrespective of whether Australia became a republic. The
constitutions of many other countries – both those that have retained the
link to the Crown and those that have become republics – provide
examples of how this might be done. The article ends with a model
codification of the conventions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)65-78
Number of pages14
JournalCanberra Law Review
Volume16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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