Flat White

To the Prime Minister, Peter Dutton, Tony Abbott, the Attorney and Governor-General…

23 August 2018

8:49 AM

23 August 2018

8:49 AM

The key people in the current crisis urgently need independent and urgent advice, the sort of advice they may not be receiving. So here’s some urgent advice to each.

First, to Malcolm Turnbull, my advice remains the same as Leo Amery’s message to Neville Chamberlain as disaster confronted not only the country and the empire but also the civilized world:  “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. In the name of God, go!”

As a republican, Mr Turnbull, you will understand these words that were originally used by the Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell to the Long Parliament.

My advice to Peter Dutton is this. You’re a good man and you’ve done well. But having heard your policies on a GST exemption for the electricity bills of a limited class, as well as your proposal to pour even more money into both Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth functions, please speak to Tony Abbott. Tony Abbott has done all the hard yards in setting up an agenda that offers the people a real choice, one that is consistent with the common sense of the ordinary Australian people on a wide range of issues. These range from energy, especially walking out of Paris, the rate of immigration and the appalling debt.

My advice to Tony Abbott is to continue doing exactly as you have been doing. You are a highly principled and courageous man, and you have developed the policy agenda that the Australian people want. The LINOs (Liberals In Name Only), Labor and the commentariat are absolutely terrified of your return because they know that if you were prime minister, you would win the next election and win it in a landslide.

And by the way, couldn’t the Nationals produce somebody of the calibre of Sir John McEwan to make it clear to the Liberals who they will accept as Coalition leader. The minimum requirement should surely be someone who acts on the drought as the number one national priority, walking out of Paris, returning Australia to almost immediately having the cheapest energy in the world as well as waterproofing the nation.

As to Attorney-General Porter, you are justifiably respected for what you have achieved, especially in your home state.  There is no need whatsoever to refer to the Court of Disputed Returns the question of the eligibility of Peter Dutton to sit in Parliament.  A reading of the Constitution and the Commonwealth Electoral Act demonstrates that if there is an issue, it can be decided by the House. Remember that the only reason why the Parliament made the High Court the Court of Disputed Returns was probably because at that time, the early twentieth century, the High Court did not have much to do. And had they made, say, the Balmain Police Court the CDR, they would probably have received in recent years interpretations of section 44 more consistent with those originally intended both by the founders and the people.

My advice, entirely gratuitous, to Sir Peter Cosgrove is this. Fortunately, Malcolm Turnbull failed to impose his republic on the Australian people in 1999. While managing to persuade most members of a gullible commentariat and more than two-thirds of the politicians of the righteousness of his case, Australians were too smart not to see through it. In brief, they smelled a rat. You see, if the Keating –Turnbull republic were now in place, the head of state would have been neutered and turned in to the prime minister’s poodle. The Keating – Turnbull republic would have been the only republic in the world and indeed in history in which it would have been easier for the prime minister to sack the President then his driver. He could do this without notice, without grounds, and without right of appeal to restore him to office.

So if Malcolm Turnbull comes knocking on your door, do what Sir Ninian Stephen did to Malcolm Fraser. Send him away to present you with a detailed paper setting out the reasons why you should grant a premature dissolution in these circumstances, including the fact that he and the Parliament should be dealing with the leading crisis affecting the nation, the drought. The paper should cover the contrary argument, why you should not grant a dissolution.

Sir Peter, do also take the independent advice to which you are fully entitled, notwithstanding the rubbish that has been written about Sir John Kerr’s legitimate sources of advisers. While I am happy to advise, the best person you could go to is the expert, Professor Anne Twomey, who has just written what will become the leading authority on the reserve powers throughout the world. As the constitutional guardian exercising the powers of the Australian Crown, this is an area where you are not only entitled but you are duty bound to act, not on the advice of your ministers, but in your own considered opinion.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Show comments