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21 U.N.S.W.L.J. 856 (1998)
The 1998 Convention: A Reprise of 1898

handle is hein.journals/swales21 and id is 876 raw text is: Forum - The 1998 Constitutional Convention

The Commonwealth Attorney-General, Daryl Williams, recently declared the
February 1998 Constitutional Convention an outstanding success.' This is a
fair assessment if the Convention is judged against its designated purpose - to
decide whether Australia should become a republic, when this should occur, and
which republican model should be put to referendum. However, at least for
republicans, the Convention will ultimately have failed unless a satisfactory
model of republican government is approved at the referendum to be held by
December 1999. Hence final judgement on the Convention must be reserved
until the outcome of the referendum is known. But its prospect of success will
be enhanced by analysis of the Convention model while the opportunity exists to
influence the details of the proposed constitutional amendments. Moreover,
even at this early stage, some tentative lessons for future reform can be drawn
from the successes and failures of the 1998 Convention.
The Convention model has six principal components:    the nomination,
appointment, removal and powers of the President, the republicanisation of the
States, and amendment of the constitutional Preamble. The Convention devoted
greater attention to the method of selecting the President than any other subject.
It considered this the linchpin of the presidency since it would largely determine
the essential nature of the office. Indeed it will. But, with the exception of
supporters of the McGarvie model, the Convention       gave insufficient
consideration to the method of removing the President which, while likely to be
employed extremely rarely, will nevertheless influence the way in which the
office is perceived - by Presidents and Prime Ministers, as well as by the public.
*   Professor of Law, University of New South Wales. Appointed delegate to the Constitutional Convention.
1   D Williams, Realising the Republic: The Government's Perspective (unpublished paper presented at
ANU Seminar Series The Republic: What Next?, 6 April 1998), pl. See, likewise, G Williams The
People's Convention? (1998) 23 (1) Alternative Law Journal 2 at 2 (a great success).

Volume 21(3)

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