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Fiducial Governance

Fiducial Governance: An Australian republic for the new millennium OPEN ACCESS

John Power
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: ANU Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt24hcmz
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  • Book Info
    Fiducial Governance
    Book Description:

    Fiducial Governance: An Australian republic for the new millennium represents an attempt to grapple with the challenges of designing governance regimes suited to the new millennium. Power's monograph asserts the need for the reform of Australian governance and charts Australia's fitful progress towards a republican future. Along the way he sketches a framework for constitutional reform, mindful of the strengths and weaknesses of the current system of government and the contest of ideas about the role and configuration of Australian Heads of State. Long a frustrated Australian republican, Power contends that the republican log jam is due in significant part to a lack of respect shown by the republican policy community to the contribution long made to good governance by monarchical heads of state. This monograph seeks to draw lessons from this experience, so as to make the republican venture one of substance for the Australian public. In so doing, Power draws on a range of republican, indigenous and feminist writings in order to develop a new framework of 'fiducial governance' aimed at enhancing the trustworthiness and integrity of our institutions of governance, thereby paving the way for the replacement of the monarch by a directly elected head of state. This is an erudite and thoughtful book that will be of interest to those with an interest in systems of governance and to constitutional scholars, whether they be republicans or monarchists.

    eISBN: 978-1-921666-55-1
    Subjects: Political Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. Foreword (pp. ix-x)
    Tom Calma

    For those of us with a commitment to a republican Australia, this monograph presents a fresh approach. In developing its framework for constitutional reform, it draws on a range of ideas – not only republican, but Indigenous, feminist, and religious thinking as well.

    As an Indigenous Australian I am very committed to reform within Australian political institutions. In my former role as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner I facilitated a reform agenda that ultimately led to the formation of the National Congress of Australiaʹs First Peoples. The abolition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC)...

  2. Introduction (pp. 1-12)

    I can most readily provide a simple introduction to what is wrong with the current Australian system of governance by listing 10 excellent modern works that have called for needed changes in our regime but that seem for the most part to have been going nowhere

    Report of the Review of Public Service Personnel Management in Victoria (1990)

    Report of the Republic Advisory Committee (1993)

    Can Responsible Government Survive in Australia? (Hamer 1994)

    The Road to a Republic (Parliament of Australia 2004)

    Into the Future: The neglect of the long term in Australian politics (Marsh and Yencken 2004)

    Chaos or...

  3. The basic principle that should underlie any attempt at constitutional reform is one that is fundamentally Old Institutionalist in character (Power 2009) and, possibly because of this, the need for caution often seems better appreciated by the citizenry than by the experts; any change must safeguard those arrangements that time has shown to have worked well.¹ For the most part, the Australian system of government has performed as well as most democracies, so we should be especially careful when we consider changing it.

    If we are to move towards a new regime, we need to be clear about the distinction...

  4. The most recent comprehensive assessment of the current Australian regime, Australia: The state of democracy, lists no fewer than 50 strengths and 58 weaknesses, although it does not go on to recommend explicit reform strategies for improvement (Sawer et al. 2009). It does, however, supply us with a useful checklist for setting a context for the discussion of six of our eight sections below.¹

    Perusal of the more than 100 items of assessment that follow shows that Australia: The state of democracy follows a fairly standard left-liberal line, being particularly concerned with the effects of anti-terrorism laws and with the...

  5. In this section, I advance eight propositions about the reform of gubernatorial offices in Australia. Taken together, these propositions constitute an ambitious, ultimately republican reform program. While there is a logical progression from one proposition to the next, the degree of political difficulty increases as we progress. So the extent to which the program can be implemented will vary from one jurisdiction to the next. Even if only the first proposition is accepted in a single jurisdiction, that would in itself represent a considerable initial reform. It would not, however, in itself guarantee a regime of fiducial governance. So, in...

  6. Elegant in its cynicism as this couplet is, it ultimately fails, because the quality of administration usually depends in significant part on the nature of the form of government—the regime—under which it functions.

    Because of the ubiquity of imputation, the republican mode of governing is always difficult. The republican might succeed in making explicit some long-tacit norm, only to find it slipping back into another assumptive world. Take, for example, the phenomenon of regulation, which is always a concern of governments, but a concern that has moved to centre stage in the contemporary world according to one recent...