The US constitution was the product of a congress of great men generals, political scientists and philosophers, who had wrested the thirteen colonies from British rule.
Compare it to the Australian Constitution, which was actually a statute of the Parliament at Westminster. Indeed, it was an act of the British Parliament.
Now our Prime Minister wants to change the Constitution with a preamble, which recognizes that there were Aborigines here before 1788 the equality of men and women and that there is a God who cares about Australia.
Well, the US $1 note and coin declare, “In God We Trust”, so the reference to God has a populist precedent in the free world. Australia is, after all a nation under the Queen and the Queen is officially, “The Defender of the Faith”. It follows that the Governor General is by delegation, also the Defender of the Faith and the Faith: “The Church of England”.
Whether republican or monarchist, the defender of the faith has no place at the Olympic games. Prime Minister Howard wants to open them himself. He does not want the Queen to open them. Could that be because she is a foreign head of state, even if she also happens to be our head of state (but then there is still the Governor General)? He is to be displaced too. What else can we conclude than that the Prime Minister considers these games to be Godless or not an appropriate occasion or venue for the Faith to be defended?
Alternatively, write God into the Constitution before the Games begin, so the Prime Minister can be seen to be defending The Faith too. Reduce the head of state to an irrelevance when it comes to the defence of The Faith.
However, we do not have a directly elected head of government and accordingly, cannot afford to impute to a mere majority party leader, a role akin to that of a sovereign. The Prime Minister is no President. He is not the Chief Executive. The Chief Executive is “The Queen in Parliament” or practically, within Australia, “The Governor General in Parliament”.
So on the other hand, the Prime Minister is talking up the Queen but on the other hand, he is relegating her to a place behind the White Cliffs of Dover.
Is this proposed preamble to the Constitution anything more than a stab at grandiosity, a fob to those who seek to put contemporary meaning into a constitution, which is fairly barren in its micro applications?
If we launch a solemn commitment to the equality of men and women, what does that say, by omission, about the equality of the races – about the equality of people regardless of their sexual proclivities? Silence can speak volumes, as can selective declarations.
An acknowledgement that there were Aborigines here before Caucasians is trite. There were probably Neanderthals here before Aborigines and the supply of kangaroos has been seemingly endless. So what? What treatment have we meted out to the Aborigines and the kangaroos? There was a bounty on the Aborigines’ scalps and the kangaroos make good stuffing for sausages.
Words, words, words, words! If we want a queen, lets treat her like a queen. How about a bit more substance and forget the preamble? Actions speak louder than words,