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This model is a completely fresh, new look at a republican model in the light of the failed 1999 republic referendum. One of the most significant failures of the referendum was that republicans were divided into two main camps - the "minimalists" and the "direct electionists". Since the referendum, no models (at least that I've been aware of) have appeared which reconciled these camps, and this fact has been my driving motivation in conceiving this model. The model neatly combines the best elements of the existing constitutional arrangements and those of the most popular republican models, with no significant complications arising - including the ultra-minimalist, minimalist (i.e., election by special parliamentary majority), electoral college and directly elected non-executive President models.
The name of the model, the "Sovereign Council model", takes its name from one of the key features of the model, the Sovereign Council. This Sovereign Council could equally well be called the Presidential Council or the Constitutional Council, and draft constitutions are provided which use each of these names, though there are no other differences.
The model proposes a Sovereign Council comprising five directly elected voting members and two ex officio non-voting members (the Governor-General and the immediate past Governor-General), and is headed by the President deputised by a Vice-President. The Council replaces the Sovereign, and - with arguably more legitimacy than the Sovereign - represents the sovereignty of the people. The Council appoints the Governor-General at its discretion upon nomination by (amongst others) the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition or any five MPs. The Governor-General can be dismissed by the Council at its discretion, but only upon a resolution to do so by the House of Representatives.
There are two options (see section 2) provided for election of the President and Vice-President:
OPTION A. Direct election. This option provides that when the Council is elected, the candidate with the highest vote becomes the President and the candidate with the second highest vote becomes the Vice-President.The Governor-General would continue to perform much the same role as now, and would essentially retain the same powers and functions. Rather than being the representative, however, of a distant Sovereign, the Governor-General would be appointed to act as an impartial arbiter by the Sovereign Council, acquiring additional legitimacy as a representative of the nation.
OPTION B. Popular election. This option provides that after the Council is elected, the Council meets to choose one of its number to be President and one to be Vice-President. The Council member chosen as President need not be the member who obtained the highest vote at the election of the Council, though the President will of course have been directly elected as a Council member.
The Governor-General, when exercising any discretionary power (including a reserve power) would be required to advise the Sovereign Council in advance. The Sovereign Council is entitled to be advised, to encourage or to warn. Otherwise, the President and the Sovereign Council (severally or jointly) would perform a mainly ceremonial and symbolic role.
»Go! to an explanation of the Sovereign Council model.
» Go! to my article, which was intended for publication in "The Australian" but which was never published - reasons were not provided.
» Go! to my draft "Sovereign Council model" Constitution (or, exactly the same document using instead the term "Constitutional Council" or using instead the term "Presidential Council").
» Go! to a "cleaned", easier to read version of my draft "Sovereign Council model" Constitution, without text highlighting (or, exactly the same document using instead the term "Constitutional Council" or using instead the term "Presidential Council").