Why, Why not, a Republic ?
In the Couchman over Australia programme on the subject of an Australian republic some years ago, one young fellow made an eloquent case for a republic, as being a way to unite all Australians in a forward looking, truly Australian identity - perhaps not a bad thought; (and, incidentally, a fine example of the kind of leadership we need - 'persuasive leadership' without decisive power; along the lines previously discussed).
Whatever form we may consider suited to this country's future needs, the most important aspect is to achieve the ability, for our political system to provide unifying and creative leadership for the broad spectrum of Australian society, including the diverse interests and concerns of the States; and not forgetting the Aborigines and other ethnic and minority groups.
A mere change from a formal monarchy to a typical republic has no chance of resolving the country's problems with peace and goodwill. Clearly there is work to do, to have a uniquely Australian solution - one that will enhance democratic government and be seen by people generally as sound, incorporating the best principles of democracy.
There has been minority interest in a republic for a long time. But various factors have provided the impetus in recent years. Previous to World War Two there were strong connections with the UK, including trade and defence ties. Since then Australia's interests have centred more around the Pacific.
The 1901 Constitution retained the full authority of the Crown through 'the reserve powers', Australia being then subservient to the Crown; as the Constitution still states. But the Crown's authority has been whittled away by UK and Australian enactments to nothing, leaving the Governor General (and state Governors) still able, in theory at least, to exercise the reserve powers of the Crown in accordance with the outdated Constitution. These powers have now been gradually restrained by convention. In 1975 the 'reserve powers' of the Crown were used by the Governor general, Sir John Kerr to dismiss the Whitlam government, the incident highlighting the now antiquated Constitutional provisions, which previously bound Australia, as a UK colony. The conflict between the Senate and the House of Representatives was the basic problem that triggered the dismissal. It was, and is, a separate issue - i.e. how to resolve such conflict without reference to the Governor General (or, for that matter, a President). That conflict was a catalyst for a new and greater interest in Australia's diminished relationship to the Crown. Thus we have two Constitutional problems that require solution, some being more interested in one problem, some in the other, and some who don't want to solve either!
The 1995 (20th) anniversary of 'the dismissal' produced its sheaf of literature on the event, with little clear-cut idea how to resolve the basic conflict between the two Houses of Parliament. Preferred suggestions reflect partisan positions. Gough Whitlam called for fixed terms, the Democrats want entrenchment of proportional representation in the Constitution to ensure their role in the Senate, and the Coalition wanted no change, claiming the Senate to be 'representative' - until recently, after losing its earlier control of the Senate.
Unlike the United Kingdom, Australia is not a unitary state, but a federation of states, governed by the Constitution, with the constitutional powers conferred on the Senate creating the possibility of conflict between the two Houses of Parliament.
The necessity for, and the origin of the Senate's power was the uniting of the separate colonies at Federation. The separate states thus joined had to be given confidence that their interests would not be swallowed up in the new Federal government. That worry is still about. In 1901 this problem was resolved by establishing the Senate with the same number of representatives for each state, regardless of population, and giving the Senate some restrictive powers over the House of Representatives - especially the power to withhold 'Supply' (of finance for the operation of government).
Solution of these problems is important. We need to amend the Constitution to remove the anomalous 'reserve powers' of the Crown whether we move to a republic or not. But we do need to resolve the difficulties of the relationship between the two Houses of Parliament in a simple but effective way. Majority rule is the essential basis of democratic decision-making, but the split of the decision-making into two Houses, while considered necessary to protect the smaller states, has created ongoing angst. (By contrast the House of Commons has unfettered political power; derived from the people by election.)
If the powers of the Head-of-State can be designed to keep the peace, so to speak, between the two Houses where necessary, the democratic functioning of government could be usefully improved. There are problems. Let's fix them, whether as we are or, in the context of a republic. And certainly, let us not just 'buy' other country’s failed systems.
How then would we achieve a formal republic, with changes that would better our democracy? Would a president be more likely to challenge a prime minister? It depends on the nature of the republic we create; a serious question.
We are faced with important decisions; do nothing or venture into the brave new world of change. The public has lost a lot of confidence in government, with apathy and cynicism. The symbolism of the change of century and the anniversary of Federation encourages us to reconsider. The unifying link to the Crown has suffered the ravages of time and the majority or the people seem to favour an elected president.
While the Queen's relationship with Australia as head of the Commonwealth of nations will doubtless be continued in the same way it does with other member countries, whether monarchies or republics, there is an unfilled gap in our national life which calls for a symbolic head-of state, the role once inspiringly filled by the Crown. It's up to us. Will we be clever or stupid? We can make the 'mess' good or... we can make a good mess of it!
Monarchy - yes or no?
Some say Australia is a republic in all but name so why mess with it. For monarchists it suggests the pointlessness of agitating for a formal republic. But republicans counter with the question: why not change the constitution to reflect our evolution as a de facto republic? Complete the paperwork! The Prime Minister, Mr. Howard, claims that our system works well, so it makes no sense to replace it with a republic. Furthermore, he claims, our system cannot be replicated under a republic. Is it really that good? Would we want to? Unfortunately it does not work well. That was the reason for the dustup in 1975 - the fractious nature of party politics combined with the bi-cameral system. There have been many drawing attention to the real problem - the dominance of the Prime Minister and Cabinet over parliament, but in that case it was the Opposition leader in the Senate who kicked over the traces.
Republicans claim a national maturity demands change. But there is a serious question whether we have the political maturity to make sensible change. Many think an elected president will automatically rectify the problems of the system by giving the people more power. That could be a strong factor behind the 'elect the president' campaign. But an elected president could become involved in disputing the executive authority of government, becoming one more source of power and conflict; between President, Prime Minister and Parliament. Add to that the view expressed by members of the High Court that it might be able to reflect the will of 'the people' better than the executive, which now dominates parliament, subverting the individual representation of Members. This worrying claim was made in defence of a complex ruling based on Common Law, that a parliamentary enactment was unconstitutional. Could they have had in mind the incubus on democratic decision-making, which the party system undoubtedly is?
Add to that mishmash a heavy-footed president with a mandate, based on popular election, to interfere in politics. Is that the way to better representative government? Paul Keating (The one who enjoyed 'pulling the levers') comments on the (possible) danger:
... the pressure will grow to give Australia an elected presidency in the future, a position that will enjoy the full reserve powers of an English monarch (over parliament). Such a development would change forever the political primacy of the Parliament, Prime Minister and Cabinet in our political system.
Another warning. The tenure of an elected head-of-state could exceed the parliamentary term, (unless there were fixed terms for Parliament) giving a preponderant political clout to that office. Parliament could be reduced to a role of irritated frustration, like that of present parliamentary Oppositions.
Another argument (of the monarchists) for no change is the beneficent effects of attachment to the Crown, binding the whole political structure to the governing moral foundation of God and His righteousness. This is highlighted in the coronation of the Queen. Before the Queen could receive the sceptre of royal rule, she first must accept the golden orb representing the earth, surmounted by the cross of Christ the Redeemer - He who by life and death demonstrated the ultimate humility, now honoured above all, as King of kings. Humility is the doorway to authority. The Queen thus symbolised her acceptance that a royal ruler is subject to God - with a responsibility to serve the people.
To sever what remains of the intimate ties with the monarchy will remove the contribution of the Queen to our national life as a (once) unifying influence in the country. But mere religious form can be worse than useless. The importance of this to people generally was highlighted in the life of Princess Diana and even more in her death. She had what it takes. What a pity that we did not act quickly and extract her from the suffocating clutches of the royal family, to be Queen of Australia!
Does the Crown have any moral influence today? Mr. McGarvie mentions that, while Governor of Victoria, this aspect never entered his mind. And does the traditional regalia of barristers improve the justice of our legal system? When traditions are purely formal they can be valueless and the real values have to be rediscovered, more easily perhaps without the traditional trappings.
The principle is plain. Those who submit to higher authority receive the right - the power - to rule. And in a substantially secular society the ultimate authority is unquestionably the people. And we may well reflect that God is not a remote figment of a religious imagination but the Spirit that moves amongst us seeking to impart His wisdom and blessing. As Machiavelli said, 'the voice of the people is the voice of God'. Authority therefore belongs to those who exercise it for the benefit of the people, caring for the people's needs, considering their views. Republicans see 'the people' as the ultimate authority, but do we have the virtue required to have that authority?
Those who seek power for themselves are thereby unfitted for its exercise. Power is a contagious 'disease', waiting to infect whoever it is to whom 'the people' surrender their power. There is much talk these days about people being empowered. More power means more conflict. Democracy is about the reverse; reducing delegations of power. Thus the answer lies in reducing the powers of the powerful; commonly called devolution. Monarchists say that the Governor General has no power, practically speaking, and that the existing conventions deny power to the political executive, if only by reason of the formalities of their observance. This is fragile. Any change at all may bring down the whole house of cards!
Like the elephant, 'which is so slow', the people as a whole tend to find change a worry and would prefer to put up with unsatisfactory politics rather than an unknown alternative - 'the devil you don't know'. Distrust and fear play a big part in conservatism. But what if the system we cling to is riddled with distrust and fear.
To retain as much control as possible over one's destiny is a natural urge. It appears strongly in the movements for civil liberties. The problem is that in many ways we need the benefits of common action, which requires compromise and even the surrender of certain liberties for the greater good. Those benefits can become difficult to see and appreciate if the basis of decision-making is clumsy and distorted in giving opportunity for some to have a greater advantage than others.
Serious change is needed, but can it be done better under a republic?
Most Australians are not monarchists; the challenge is to find acceptable change... . There is majority support for a republic but, as yet, no consensus on what form it should take. While The Age believes the model that was on offer represented safe and minimal change, its rejection means another must be found; one that will not jeopardise our parliamentary democracy but that is also acceptable to the public ... It will not be easy but it is not impossible... Editor.
Dr. George Pell, Roman Catholic Archbishop, comments:
The Republic continues to be inevitable and Australians should be encouraged to work slowly and wisely for this goal. ... It would be unfortunate to acquiesce in our present situation for too long.
There's work to be done! Can we do it? The feeling that we can't, or can't be bothered, is a destructive force in the life of the country. Are we a ‘can do’, or a ‘can't do’ people? Clearly there is work to do, to get a uniquely Australian solution - one that will enhance democratic government and be seen by people generally as sound, incorporating the best principles of democracy.
What sort of republic?
Will a change to a republic be seen as the be-all and end-all of required change? If so, we could leave one confusion to create another. Some remarks by Sir William Deane (as Governor General) stimulate thought about the future nature of the role of a president under a republic. Some politicians have been upset that his remarks could be influential in the republic debate. He has his defenders as well as his critics, and he himself recognised early that to be other than a mere figurehead (a role that has steadily metamorphosed with recent incumbents) a fine line has to be drawn between highlighting problems of the disadvantaged, and proposing or commenting on solutions. Empathy with the needy is a 'royal' quality. Princess Diana had it. So had Sir William. That is the important contribution for which a head-of-state will be revered.
However, in moving on, we need to consider how our head-of-state can be a person, however coming to that role, who is a unifying influence, ameliorating the disunity of our political life. A head-of-state can have a unique function in exemplifying and expressing those values around which a people can unite and move on to better things. A party politician cannot do this - but a non-political head, especially if elected, could.
We, the people, have to come to grips with the system ourselves, and place no reliance on the traditional (faulty) influences of the past. We have to find, and promote, our own values afresh. We need to 'gird up our loins', reject fear of change, get used to fighting for what's right. We must set to work to fix our own political system, which is most definitely 'broke' - with its party politics, highlighted once again by the threat of John Howard to reimpose party discipline over the 'recalcitrant' republicans in his coalition. His, mind you! How blind are the powerful to the truth: 'Pride goes before … a fall'. How many party leaders have felt its bitter truth! Yet arrogant attitudes persist!
Wanted - A Viable Australian Republic.
There appears, fortunately, to be a substantial consensus that a future head-of-state should not be involved politically. The visit of the Irish President gave us an insight into how well Ireland has progressed with such a president. We have valued the more public involvement of Governors General in recent times, and we could certainly do with an apolitical figure giving national focus on unity and uplift, in the manner that the royal family once did, and to which it is evident that the Irish Presidents have attained. The nation needs more than party politics, sport and entertainment, for us to mature and grow as a nation. An elected, apolitical president could give us the inspiring leadership we need.
There remains one question though: is a
greater involvement of the people possible without creating a political
decision-making process which is
1. Amendment of the Constitution to formalise our de facto republic.
2. Constitutional democratic solutions to problems between the House of Representatives and the Senate.
3. To relieve the President by a close definition of function to avoid involvement in political controversy.
Alternatives: Appointment of a President
Should the President be appointed by a two-thirds majority of parliament (a quite reasonable course perhaps), a curious problem emerges in regard to a simple transfer of the existing conventions as suggested by the Prime Minister. At present the Queen appoints the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. Then the Governor General is obliged by convention to accept the advice of the Prime Minister, this being the Queen's wish.
But, transferring this scenario to a President in a Republic, the formality of Regal background would no longer exist, the authority of the President then stands on the two thirds majority of both Houses (establishing a non-partisan President). Protocol would continue the formality of a Prime Minister presenting his proposed cabinet appointments to the President.
Now is it not probable that, with a confirmed non-party appointment (by two-thirds majority), the President could have the practical authority to exert influence on the Prime Minister with regard to the composition of the Cabinet? It seems conceivable that this kind of influence could also appear with regard to controversial issues. Would this be an altogether bad thing? A good question. This interesting possibility might be of some political comfort to the Opposition, so presently ineffective. It is quite plain that the present powers of the Opposition have been far too much circumscribed by party government. But it suggests too much trouble for executive government.
The McGarvie Proposal
The following plan was put forward at the Constitutional Convention by The Hon. Richard McGarvie (a previous Governor of Victoria), for a low-key president, appointed by a council of ex Governors-general etc., that would give minimal change to the existing style of politics. This model received the second vote at the Constitutional Convention.
The main idea was the appointment of a president by a committee of three senior figures or Elders, with little else changed. The formal reference made to the Queen in the current system could thus be replaced by reference to the committee of Elders - a simple change.
But such a council of elders, replacing the Queen, would (retaining the reserve powers under the constitution) acquire total power over government, including the power of veto over legislation. But might the High court become involved and prove to have the greater political power? What then of the separation of powers? That has been seriously jeopardised already, with the Court's appeal to the Common Law in its review of legislation.
This option is continuing to be proposed by Mr McGarvie.
A Committee of State Governors
It has been suggested that, when occasion requires, all State Governors should convene to privately 'invite' a respected citizen to accept appointment. It could be provided further that conference with the State Governors would be necessary before any reserve powers were exercised. Removal (under the special circumstances of inability to perform the functions of the presidency, for any reason), would also involve reference to the committee of Governors.
This proposal could have some merit, by the participation of the people in each state through their own political channels. For example each Governor could confer with Premier and Opposition Leader as to desirable names for the Governors to consider. It may be objected that this proposal is still too far from a satisfactory involvement of the people, but it appears to merit serious consideration. One significant advantage, apart from its simplicity, would be the equality of influence it would give for all states, in the ultimate appointment. Also the existing constitutional arrangements with regard to Parliament might remain substantially as at present.
An Elected President.
It was interesting to see in an opinion poll that while 52% of people favoured a republic, the number agreeing increased to 58% when the question precluded a president with executive powers. It was equally interesting to hear of countries such as Ireland who have a non-executive president. In a Four Corners symposium on a republic, some time ago, there was distinct emphasis that we should not blindly follow the example set by another country, but should create our own form of republic.
The ARM's efforts to ensure a break from Britain have been at the expense of a move toward a republic that many think could be better, with a president elected by the people. It is clear that we need need the inspiration of a head-of-state who we can 'own'. But some people's concern with an elected president is perhaps that it could lead us down America's path.
The American system has a powerful executive, with President-appointed 'ministers', and is much more accountable to money than at earlier times when the parties were largely in the hands of the grass roots. But party politics is, and always has been, a destructive factor in their system. Our trend is the same, and more especially in future with the recent law for tax deductibility of political donations! Incredible! We need to call a halt to these alien influences.
To have an elected president, and keep the present basis of representative parliamentary government, we need a president to have a minimal role only, to help, not to impede, representative parliamentary government. Suitably defining the powers of such a president would be essential.
This was considered by the Convention to be impossible. It is interesting that Professor Cheryl Saunders of the Constitutional Centenary Foundation thinks otherwise. When chairing a CCCF meeting when Paul Kelly of 'The Australian' was declaiming on the impossibility of such a definition of powers, a quiet aside from the Chair advised that it is possible. She, if anyone, would know!
The election of a president need not be feared with political powers thus excluded. So who is elected would be important of course, but not so critically. For example, Bill Hayden, former left wing politician, reacted to the job of Governor General in much the same way as more establishment figures have done. Obviously, the nature of the office is a dominant factor and with the president's powers properly defined, whoever is elected will act responsibly within those powers.
In a 'worst case' scenario, presidential candidates could be promoted by both the 'right' and the 'left', with the people's choice unpopular with the government. But a president with a restricted role could not be a danger to government and making the election of a powerless president a political issue would be pointless. The election of a president really presents no big drama, or cause for alarm to our democratic system; rather the reverse, provided only that the powers assigned to this office are clearly spelt out, to safeguard the democratic process.
Do those who polled 70% for a directly elected president want to emulate America? Or do they have another vision - perhaps a president to make the 'pollies' behave? If a directly elected president had power to interfere in legislation then big money would intrude to secure a president at the beck and call of powerful interests with much resulting damage and confusion.
But Phil Cleary, Real Republic/direct election Movement, comments:
'... Australians won't be dragooned into supporting a republic that shuts them out of the political process. The challenge is to develop a republic model that addresses the concerns and aspirations of Australians. If that means a model that avoids the excesses of the American system, then so be it. Contrary to the claims of some, it is possible to fashion a republic model that restricts the ability of big money to determine the outcome of a presidential election. Any number of constitutional lawyers have confirmed this. ... (It is a) ridiculous notion that Australians would elect a vacuous celebrity or partisan politician. ...'
We need to understand the public's aspirations, but a good alternative, which will give the people hope for better things as a result of moving from the established system, is essential.
We certainly need to be clear what criteria for a presidential function would be best, considering the strengths and weaknesses of our present system. It would seem that the best person would be one who would not be ambitious for the role. Doubtless Governors General have never sought office; which has contributed to their strength. This principle must be essential in moving to a republic. The public is quite capable of nominating people of outstanding character and public spirit for the office of president, the popular support being rapidly established in the activity of all public forums, without (expensive) government intervention - possible names being well profiled by the media. Thus the person chosen by the people will be a person held in very high esteem, who has arisen in the public mind by a process of natural selection, a process beyond the reach of political influence. Any political attempt to influence the people with regard to such a person will be only adverse to that intent.
Nor will the people's choice, a person not officially nominated, self-nominated or self-promoted, refuse the honour implicit in the call to this high office. This person will be highly honoured, no doubt formally consulted by Government from time to time. Such unifying consultation will enhance (rather than diminish) both the Prime Minister and our Australian democratic system.
Powers of a Head-of-state.
There is an important subsidiary role in our bicameral parliamentary government system for the Governor-general (or the President if we move to a republic), which is beyond that required in countries which are not federations of states with their own governments, as in Australia. The special Senate powers vis-a-vis the House of Representatives give rise to such a need.
In 1975 the Opposition minority in the House of Representatives directed the denial of Supply by the Senate majority. But the present Senators, with a number not ‘belonging’ to either the Government or Opposition, has varied the 1975 position. Thus, if we continue to elect Democrats, Greens and Independents to the Senate in sufficient numbers Supply is unlikely to ever be threatened. Under these circumstances it is doubtful if a real impasse between the two Houses could happen. But the danger is there, particularly if this factor should change.
On the other hand, an obligation for both Houses to resolve controversy with the application of the in-House secret ballot would improve the democratic standing of each House, freeing the Senate from undue pressure from high-handed government and vice versa. Such a constitutional change would eminently satisfy the basic intent of the Founding Fathers who obviously did not intend a dictatorial Lower House government (with very limited powers at the time), nor anticipate strictly disciplined parties.
The ballot would simplify the responsibilities of a head-of-state, while also lessening party confrontation. As a result, the anxiety of some people over what powers the president of a republic might have, could well be resolved.
We are a fragmented nation. We need the inspiration of a highly respected head-of-state who has the formal capacity to assist the government at a time of crisis, but with no political but with minimal involvement, to involvement or responsibility. It is essential that the powers of the head-of state be clearly limited and defined, not to hamper but sometimes perhaps to be of assistance to our parliamentary democracy. By narrowly defining non-partisan powers for the head-of-state, the concerns of those who fear the political rivalry, which could ensue with an elected president, should be allayed.
However there appears to be a view that we need a president to have an influential role with regard to executive government. This correlates with an earlier claim by High Court Justices (mentioned above), that they may sometimes be more able than the government to represent the people! The people's unrest, manifested in the desire to elect a head of state, has much to do with the dominance of executive government; the reputation of politicians and the people's lack of a significant say in our 'representative' government. Who do the representatives really represent? Does our 'representative' parliamentary democracy incorporate the basic principles of democracy, viz:
Government BY the people,
Government OF the people,
Government FOR the people?
We need to
resolve this dilemma. Government cannot function with several heads of power
interfering with each other. With responsibility divided there can be no
accountability. It would be foolhardy to attempt to resolve the problems of our
parliamentary democracy by creating a presidency with an uncertain executive
power or influence. The people's parliament, itself, must be the foremost
authority to which the executive and administration is unambiguously
What powers then?
One power that could exist is an ability to refer a bill of dubious legality to the High Court to determine its constitutionality following the Irish model. The only other powers that would satisfy the criteria for a non-executive president would relate to the employment of the secret ballot, where significant public disquiet indicates, to have the option to:
1. Intervene in a standoff (constitutionally defined) between the two Houses of the Federal Parliament; i.e. to require settlement of the relevant issue by secret ballot of, first the Senate, then, as necessary, the House of Representatives and/or a joint sitting of both houses. The lack of balance between the numbers in each House may require a weight to be applied to the Senate votes in a joint sitting.
2. Authorise a double dissolution; or referendum at the request of the Prime Minister - at a suitable time.
3. Power to dismiss, either president or government, would then be precluded.
Such powers could scarcely interest the big money, which would invade the election process of a president with an unpredictable power to interfere in government. With powers thus limited a president could not influence the normal functioning of parliamentary government by virtue of popular election. These arrangements could be expected to somewhat ameliorate any parliamentary tensions which might be of concern to an elected president.
1. The working of party government would be little affected, and more objective government consideration and attention to issues of serious concern could result.
2. A marginal improvement in the influence of independents could exist, as, in the event of the ballot being applied at length on any issue, the debating role of each Member of Parliament would be more significant in deadlocked situations. Conversely, the unduly powerful influence of a Senate minor party could be less dominant with the application of the ballot.
3. It might then be appropriate to exclude the power of the Senate to refuse 'Supply'.
4. Under these circumstances, fixed terms (aside from the Government losing the confidence of the Lower House) might be worth considering.
The lesser states might feel this diminishes their say in the system, and smell centralisation. But while state representation in the major parties has declined the majority of minority party senators come from the smaller states. The states do not therefore seem to have lost ground.
With this unifying non-partisan democracy Australia will surpass the stature of Great Britain's constitutional monarchy. Also, excluding an executive role for the president and retaining the parliament's executive role, our democracy will outshine that of the USA.
Dismissal of a President
Under the foregoing arrangements nothing but publicly unacceptable behaviour of an appointed president could invite dismissal. Should such occur a letter of dismissal should be tabled in parliament, and voted by secret ballot of Members without debate. For such a matter to be argued over in parliament seems to be the last thing that would be edifying; or in the public interest. Immediate transmission of the letter should follow a requisite two-thirds majority without delay.
An elected president could not be dismissed, but might be requested to resign by a two-thirds majority of both Houses of Parliament, following publicly unacceptable behaviour.
However tensions between a Prime Minister and the Head-of-State are not likely, since 1975, to recur. For a start there was so much public angst about it that neither occupant of those offices would ever want to be caught up in that again.
In addition we have a new situation in the Senate since then. The public has taken advantage of proportional representation in the Senate, with its small quotas of votes required for each successful candidate and so, with the advent of Senate seats won by Independents and minor parties, it is unlikely that there will ever be a non-government majority in the Senate - the cause of the 1975 dust-up. Thus the public seems to have resolved the 1975 problem. It is up to the people to ensure that continues; to avoid dictatorial government.
Where a government faces an obdurate Senate an election is the obvious way out but, with government presently reaching a compromise with the Senate, it would seem that we are looking at the shape of relationships between the two Houses for the foreseeable future.
There is a significant difficulty, which has had little attention, which could occur if Australia becomes a republic. The states' separate political entities were recognised and protected by the Federal Constitution, each with a Governor representing the Crown. To delete references to the Crown from the Federal Constitution obviously poses a problem with regard to the states. Similar changes would be needed in each state. Would they all have to conform? Would they all conform?? These questions must be resolved, before the question of a republic can be put to the public.
But, republic or not, we need better political arrangements to improve cooperation and reduce party conflict in our parliaments.
 Prov. 16:18