Section 44 of the constitution was supposed to free us from the influence of foreign powers. If we allow the obscure quirks of other countries’ citizenship laws to remove our elected representatives then it is achieving quite the opposite! The High Court must ensure that we keep the people that we elected.
So, here’s the plan thus far. We want to be a republic, but we don’t want to risk getting some Donald Trump or political hack as our president. The current system has served us well because the Queen is not elected, is perfectly respectable and represents a form of ideal, while the Governor-General is above politics and has to live up to this ideal. So, if we take the Queen out of the equation what can we insert that achieves this ideal state? My answer is to retain the ideals but remove the actual, real person. This virtual president would be a new section of the constitution and would retain all of the good features of the Queen while giving Australia a bridge to a republic. I see it as the evolution of democracy to a higher level.
What then would be the ideals and principles of the virtual president? Here are my suggestions.
- To uphold the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia
- To be dedicated to truth
- To uphold the equality of all people, regardless of their background or circumstances
- To respect the unique value of the original inhabitants of our continent and of their descendants
- To preserve the environment that we share and attribute to it its true value
- To move toward perfecting a harmonious society through laws that respect the rights and freedoms of individuals
- Uphold the freedom of the press to report in the best interests of the people
- Uphold people’s basic right to freedom of thought and belief
- Uphold people’s basic right to freedom of truthful expression
- Uphold people’s right to assemble and express their views whether in public or private.
- Ensure that people under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth are free from torture, cruelty and punishments incompatible with humanity
- Ensure the rights of all the people of the nation to the basics of life: food, clothing and shelter.
A virtual president isn’t a politician, doesn’t belong to a political party, doesn’t grow old, doesn’t have donors and would never become a tyrant. A virtual president is dedicated to certain ideals that would be newly-written in the constitution. Then we could become a republic.
Of course, you would need to have an actual person represent this ideal president. The parliament would appoint a real person, a highly-regarded citizen, to represent the virtual president. We could give this person a novel title such as “Governor-General.”
The Governor-General would conduct his executive powers in line with the current constitution, i.e. on the advice of the Prime Minister, only in-so-far as they did not contradict the ideals and principles that are set out in the constitution regarding the virtual president.
So, what would be the ideals and principles that form the virtual president? I would like any reader to contribute any ideas in the comments box below and send a link to their friends who might also want to contribute.
My initial view is that these principles should not be too prescriptive, not too narrow or encumbering. I think ideals like freedom of speech, freedom of belief or non-belief, free press and the rights of individuals would get in there somehow. The virtual president would treat all people equally and work for the good of all, working for the powerless against the powerful.
The words would be important. Please contribute.