ChatGPT 4 on the Crown and Australia



What do you understand about the issue of a republic for Australia?

As an AI with a knowledge cutoff in September 2021, here’s what I can tell you about the issue of Australia becoming a republic.

Australia is currently a constitutional monarchy, which means the country recognizes a monarch as the official head of state (as of my knowledge cutoff, this is Queen Elizabeth II), but the monarch’s powers are limited by the constitution. The idea of Australia becoming a republic essentially means that it would no longer recognize the British monarch as the head of state. Instead, Australia would have an Australian citizen as its head of state.

Republicanism in Australia has a long history, dating back to the 19th century. However, the modern movement gained significant attention in the 1990s. In 1999, a referendum was held to determine whether Australia should become a republic. The specific model proposed was that the head of state (termed “President”) would be chosen by the Parliament, rather than by popular vote. The referendum failed, with 54.87% of Australians voting against the change.

There were several reasons for the referendum’s failure. Some Australians simply did not want to sever ties with the British monarchy. Others supported the idea of a republic but disagreed with the proposed model. They wanted the Australian public to elect the president, rather than the Parliament.

Since the 1999 referendum, the issue of republicanism has periodically surfaced in public and political debate. Some have argued that Australia’s ties to the monarchy are a relic of colonial times and do not reflect Australia’s modern identity. Others have pointed out that the change would have minimal impact on people’s daily lives and that the current system works well.

Overall, the issue is complex and involves questions of national identity, political structure, and international relations. As of my last update in 2021, there had not been another referendum on the issue, so Australia remains a constitutional monarchy. Please check the most recent sources for the current status and discussions.


What do you know about the Crown of Australia?

The Crown in the constitutional framework of Australia refers to the institution representing the continuity of government and the legal authority underpinning the existence of Australia and its federal and state governments. This term “Crown” is often used to refer to the power and authority of the monarchy. It is separate from the person of the monarch (as of my knowledge cut-off in September 2021, Queen Elizabeth II), and instead represents the concept of the state and the legal powers thereof.

Australia, being a constitutional monarchy, acknowledges the monarch as the symbolic head of state. The actual executive powers of the government, however, are exercised by the elected government in the name of the Crown.

The Crown’s role in Australia is mostly symbolic and ceremonial. The duties of the Crown are carried out by the Governor-General at a federal level and by the Governors at a state level. These individuals are appointed by the monarch but usually act on the advice of the Australian government. Their responsibilities include giving royal assent to legislation, appointing ministers and judges, and performing ceremonial duties.

The relationship between Australia and the UK is largely symbolic. Australia is fully independent, with its own constitution and government that operate independently of the UK. While the British monarch is also the monarch of Australia, this is a separate legal concept from her role as the monarch of the UK.

The status of the Crown in Australia has been a subject of ongoing debate, particularly in the context of discussions around republicanism and whether Australia should remove the British monarch as its head of state and become a republic. As of my knowledge cut-off in September 2021, however, Australia remains a constitutional monarchy.


What is a divisible Crown?

The term “divisible Crown” refers to the principle that each Commonwealth realm has its own distinct monarchy, despite sharing the same monarch. It is part of the constitutional law in Commonwealth realms like Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

For example, Queen Elizabeth II, as of my knowledge cut-off in 2021, is not just the Queen of the United Kingdom, but also separately the Queen of Australia, the Queen of Canada, the Queen of New Zealand, and the Queen of other realms. She holds these titles separately, and each role is distinct. When she acts as the Queen of Australia, for instance, she is acting on advice from her Australian ministers and not her British ones.

This concept is important because it underscores the independence of these realms. Despite sharing a monarch, each of these countries is fully sovereign and independent. The monarch’s role and powers in each country are defined by that country’s own laws and constitution.

This concept is what makes the Crown “divisible” — the Crown exists separately in each realm, and the relationship each realm has with the Crown is independent of the relationship any other realm has with it.

However, it’s worth noting that this interpretation has not always been universally agreed upon. The idea of the divisibility of the Crown is largely a 20th-century development, arising alongside the increasing independence of Britain’s overseas dominions. Historically, there were different views about the extent to which the Crown could be considered divisible.

How many divisible Crowns are there in Australia?

In Australia, there are six states and two mainland territories, each of which has a Crown. So, there are total of eight divisible Crowns in Australia:

New South Wales
Western Australia
South Australia
Northern Territory
Australian Capital Territory

What about the Commonwealth?

The term “divisible Crown” refers to the legal concept that the monarchy of the United Kingdom, and of the other Commonwealth realms, is a separate legal institution in each. Therefore, the Crown of the Commonwealth of Australia is also considered a “divisible Crown,” separate from those of the individual states and territories. So, in total, there are nine divisible Crowns in Australia when you include the Commonwealth Crown.

How many representatives of the monarch are there in Australia?

In Australia, there is one representative of the monarch at the federal level, known as the Governor-General, and there are additional representatives in each of the six states, known as Governors. So, in total, there are seven representatives of the monarch in Australia: one Governor-General and six Governors. The territories of Australia (Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory) do not have Governors; instead, they have Administrators and Chief Ministers, respectively, who perform similar roles but are not technically representatives of the monarch.

What are the key references for understanding the Crown of Australia?

Understanding the Crown of Australia requires a mix of legal, historical, and contemporary sources. Here are some key references:

The Constitution of Australia: This is the primary legal document that outlines the powers and roles of the Crown in Australia.

‘The Australian Monarchy: A Guide for the Perplexed’ by David Solomon: This book provides a comprehensive explanation of the role of the Crown in Australia.

‘Head of State: The Governor-General, the Monarchy, the Republic and the Dismissal’ by Sir David Smith: This provides an in-depth discussion of the role and history of the Governor-General, a key representative of the Crown.

The official websites of the Governor-General and the Governors of each state: These resources provide up-to-date information on the current duties and activities of these representatives of the Crown.

‘The Law of the Australian Constitution’ by K.C. Wheare: This is a legal text that covers the specifics of the Australian Constitution and the legalities of the Crown’s role.

Remember, the role of the Crown in Australia is a complex mix of history, legal precedent, and contemporary politics, so a thorough understanding will require research and study.

Are there any other commonwealth realms that have a similar one-to-many structure for their divisible Crown?

Australia’s one-to-many structure of the divisible Crown, where there is one Crown at the national level and individual Crowns for each state, is rather unique among the Commonwealth realms. This is largely due to Australia’s federation structure, which established semi-sovereign states within the nation.

Most of the other Commonwealth realms, like Canada, New Zealand, and the UK, have a unitary system of government, meaning there is one central authority (the Crown in this case) that exercises power over the whole realm with no divisions at a subnational level.

Canada does have a somewhat similar system to Australia in that it has a federal structure, with a Crown for the nation and a Lieutenant Governor representing the Crown in each of the provinces. However, the Canadian system is not generally described in terms of a “divisible Crown,” but rather as a unified Crown represented at different levels of government.

Please note that my training only covers information up to September 2021, and if there have been changes or developments since then, I might not be aware of them.

Can you confirm that there is only one direct representative to the monarch for Canada, while there are seven for Australia? Perhaps that might be why the Crowns of Canada and Australia are dissimilar?

In Canada, the Governor General serves as the federal representative of the Monarch. Additionally, in each of the ten provinces, there is a Lieutenant Governor who represents the Monarch at the provincial level. The three territories have Commissioners, who are not representatives of the monarch but of the federal government. So, technically, there are eleven representatives of the Monarch in Canada (one Governor General and ten Lieutenant Governors).

In Australia, the Governor-General represents the Monarch at the federal level, and there is a Governor in each of the six states, serving a similar role at the state level. So, there are seven representatives of the Monarch in Australia (one Governor-General and six Governors).

Both Australia and Canada are federal systems where the monarch’s representative exists at both the national and sub-national levels. However, the “divisible Crown” concept specifically applies to Australia due to its unique historical and constitutional context. The Crown in Canada is generally considered indivisible across the country, symbolizing the unity of the federation.

The number of representatives doesn’t directly impact the concept of divisible or indivisible Crown. Instead, it’s more about the constitutional setup, history, and interpretation of the Crown’s role in these countries. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, this is the most accurate explanation. Please verify from up-to-date resources.

The point I am referring to is that only the Governor-General for Canada interacts directly with the monarch, and the Lieutenant Governors are appointed and operate under the Governor-General in a hierarchical structure. There is only one office directly in touch with the monarch in Canada. This differs from the situation in Australia – where there is no hierarchical structure between the representatives of the monarch. Is this correct?

In both Canada and Australia, all appointments of the Governor-General and Lieutenant Governors or State Governors, respectively, are made by the Monarch, generally on the advice of the countries’ respective Prime Ministers.

In Australia, the Governor-General and the State Governors all maintain a direct link to the Monarch, but they do not have a hierarchical relationship with each other. Each Governor represents the Queen in their respective state, and the Governor-General represents the Queen at a federal level.

In Canada, the Governor General is the direct federal representative of the Monarch. The Lieutenant Governors, who represent the Monarch in each province, are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. While they are considered representatives of the Monarch and not of the Governor General, in practice their role is more akin to being provincial counterparts to the federal Governor General.

So, in essence, while all these positions are appointed by and represent the Monarch, the communication pathways and hierarchies differ between the two systems. However, it should be noted that this does not affect the concept of a divisible or indivisible Crown which is rooted more in the constitutional makeup of the countries.

On what dates did Australia gain independence from the British Crown?

Australia’s path to independence from the British Crown was a gradual one, marked by several key dates:

January 1, 1901: The six colonies federated to create the Commonwealth of Australia. This is often referred to as Australia’s “founding”, but the new country was part of the British Empire and the UK Parliament retained the power to override Australian law.

December 11, 1931: The Statute of Westminster was passed in the UK, which gave legal recognition to the de facto independence of the Dominions (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Newfoundland, South Africa and the Irish Free State). However, Australia did not adopt the Statute of Westminster until later.

October 9, 1942 (Backdated to September 3, 1939): Australia formally adopted the Statute of Westminster, meaning UK legislation could no longer override Australian law. The adoption was backdated to the start of World War II.

March 3, 1986: The Australia Act was passed, severing the last remaining constitutional ties between Australia and the UK. The UK Parliament no longer has any power to make laws for Australia, and the Australian states cannot appeal to the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

While each of these dates are important, the most definitive date for Australian legal independence from the UK is often considered to be the passage of the Australia Act on March 3, 1986. However, Australia still retains the British monarch as its head of state, reflecting its continued status as a constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth.