Structure of the Australian Federation

The diagram above shows the Legislative Branch of the Australian Federation.
It includes the monarch as head of state, the Crown of Australia, the representatives of the head of state, and the parliaments.
It shows the one-to-many relationship between the monarch and his representatives, the Governor-General for the federal tier and the Governors for the states’ tier, respectively.

The next diagram shows the situation for Ireland. Ireland had a one-to-one relationship between the monarch and his representative, the Governor-General for the Irish Free State.

The model for the Republic of Ireland will not work for Australia. The proposals by the ARM for the 1999 referendum and the Australia Choice Model take their inspiration from the Irish model and will not work.

The next diagram shows how the structure of Australia’s Federation would change if the ARM Australia Choice Model is adopted through a referendum. With the ARM models, the monarch and Crown are abolished, and the Governor-General is promoted to head of state, similar to how Ireland transformed into a republic.

The ARM models leave many question marks and do not adequately think through the transition to a republic. The job is half done, with a half-baked republic being the result.

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.

The “Ugly Duckling” Model for an Australian Republic

The “Ugly Duckling” Model for an Australian Republic proposes a unique approach to democratizing the divisible Crowns of Australia, which are presently monarchical and hereditary in nature. Drawing inspiration from the fairy-tale of the same name, this model likens the Crown of Australia to an “Ugly Duckling” – misunderstood and lacking the democratic image they could embody. The central idea is to retain these Crowns while replacing the monarch with elected Australian representatives who serve fixed terms as heads of State.

In this model, the existing divisible Crowns, representing Australia’s states and the Commonwealth, would undergo a transformation to become truly democratic entities. Currently non-democratic and hard to envision as democratic, these Crowns would be reimagined as symbols of inclusivity and popular choice. By electing Australians to hold ceremonial office under these divisible Crowns, the model seeks to bridge the gap between the existing monarchical structure and a more democratic vision for the future.

The proposal ensures that the Governor-General and State Governors, as representatives of the elected head of State, retain their roles, and the concept of reserve powers continues. This maintains the balance of power and prevents the elected head of State from becoming a political rival to the Prime Minister. The model’s emphasis on short terms and apolitical campaigns further ensures the ceremonial nature of the role.

In essence, the “Ugly Duckling” Model strives to redefine the divisible Crowns of Australia by infusing them with democratic principles. By electing representatives to these Crowns while preserving their ceremonial functions, the model seeks to create a harmonious blend of tradition and modern democracy in the Australian context.

Benefits of this model for an Australian Republic

Here is a summarized version of the model for a republic, along with the benefits and objections associated with it:

Model Summary:

  • The model proposes an elected head of State, replacing the monarchy while preserving the Crown of Australia.
  • Governors-General and State Governors retain reserve powers, appointed by the head of State on the Prime Minister’s and Premier’s advice, respectively.
  • The directly elected head of State’s short one-year term ensures no political rivalry with the Prime Minister.
  • Conventions prevent the head of State from engaging in politics; election campaigns remain apolitical.
  • Candidates and electorate are based on states and Territories, ensuring a focus on regional representation.
  • The model maintains the Australian Federation, the Westminster system, and the unity of one head of State.


  • Supporters of a direct election republic benefit from having an elected head of State.
  • Supporters of a Parliamentary Appointed republic retain a Governor-General with reserve powers and a short, apolitical term for the head of state.
  • Conservatives favour maintaining the Crown, Australian Federation, and Westminster system.
  • Monarchists find continuity in the model, preserving conventions and stability.
  • The model can adapt to a declining monarchy and offers a democratic alternative.


  • There might be concerns about the one-year term’s stability and perceived inexperience.
  • The model counters this objection by focusing on ceremonial roles, community engagement, and symbolizing unity.
  • The role of the elected head of State is not intended to be presidential; it complements the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
  • The model anticipates a new generation of leaders emerging and emphasizes engagement beyond the term.


  • States have equal representation in the head of State role, promoting a successful referendum outcome.
  • Utilizing the well-established Australian of the Year Awards framework makes the election process accessible.
  • The model promotes gender equality by alternating between male and female heads of State.
  • It separates the Crown from the monarchy and aligns the democratic process with Australia’s values.
  • Voter impact is minimal, with only one head of State election in seven years, alongside federal and state elections.

Path to an Australian Republic

Here is a summarized version of the path to a republic outlined in the text:

  1. Formal Agreement: The Commonwealth and States should agree to consult on the head of State issue to maintain unity during the transition, preserving a single unifying head of State.
  2. Harmonization of the Crown: Standardize the terminology and naming convention for the divisible Crowns across states and the Commonwealth to achieve consistency.
  3. Avoid Divergence: Prevent the risk of different heads of State for the Commonwealth and States by finding a consensus to avoid division or potential secession.
  4. Referendum on Transition: Hold a Constitutional Convention to discuss the shift to a republic, building a consensus among experts and stakeholders.
  5. Pre-Referendum Test: Test the process of electing an Australian head of State before the actual referendum, possibly through modified Australian of the Year Awards.
  6. Campaign through Australian of the Year Awards: Use the existing Australian of the Year Awards platform for nominating and campaigning for the role of head of State.
  7. Rules Formalization: Formalize rules for selecting an Australian head of State as new sections in the Australian Constitution.
  8. Referendum: Present the formal rules for selecting a head of State to the public through a referendum under Section 128 of the Australian Constitution.
  9. Incorporate Divisible Crown: Ensure that the option of retaining the divisible Crown is included in any vote or plebiscite on an Australian republic.
  10. Safeguard Against Secession: Request the United Kingdom and Canada to enact changes in Acts related to the Statute of Westminster to ensure consistent democratic rules for the Crown of Australia.
  11. Transition Ceremony: On the specified date, transfer sovereignty from the monarch to the Australian people symbolically through the first elected Australian head of State.
  12. Promote Democracy: An independent Australia with an elected head of State can serve as a democratic example within the Commonwealth of Nations and promote liberal democracies globally.
  13. Embrace Complexity: Acknowledge the emergence of complex systems, like democratic divisible Crowns, as a natural evolutionary process.
  14. Expert Understanding: Ensure that experts advocating for a republic have a basic understanding of Australia’s democratic system and the nature of the Crown of Australia.

In summary, the path to an Australian republic involves consultation, harmonization of terminology, preventing divergence, a Constitutional Convention, testing the election process, using existing platforms for campaigns, formalizing rules, holding a referendum, safeguarding against secession, requesting international changes, and symbolically transferring sovereignty. The goal is to transition to a republic while maintaining unity and preserving Australia’s democratic values and system.

Round Robin model for an Australian Republic

Here’s a summarized version of the proposed model for an Australian republic:

  1. Single Head of State: One person will serve as the head of state for all of Australia, unifying the Federation and reflecting the personal unity of the divisible Crowns of Australia.
  2. Monarch Replacement: Replace the monarch with an elected Australian head of state while retaining the existing constitutional framework.
  3. Values-Based Model: The new head of state represents Australian values of democracy, rule of law, service, fairness, and more, reflecting the nation’s highest ideals.
  4. Term and Representation: The elected Australian head of state will serve a fixed term, with existing vice-regal representatives retained to represent the new head of state.
  5. Reserve Powers Justification: Maintain reserve powers of the Governor-General and State Governors to preserve the separation of powers in a republic and prevent deadlock situations.
  6. Election Process: Head of state elections will take place within each State and within the Territories for the Commonwealth in a round-robin fashion, alternating between the seven divisible Crowns of Australia.
  7. Compulsory or Voluntary Voting: Voting for the head of state may be compulsory or voluntary (to be decided). The candidate with the most votes, using a first-past-the-post system, will win the election.
  8. Term and Gender: The elected head of state’s term will be one year, alternating genders each term, beginning and ending on September 3rd.
  9. Transition Period: The first elected Australian head of state, titled “Australian of the Year,” is targeted for September 3rd, 2032, commemorating the independence of the Commonwealth from the British Crown on September 3rd, 1939.
  10. Deputy Roles: The elected head of state will serve as a deputy for six months before and after their term, ensuring a smooth transition.
  11. Two-Year Service: Each elected head of state will serve for two years, with a shared duty arrangement, combining periods as a deputy and the head of state.
  12. Gender Diversity: Both genders will be represented in the head of state and deputy roles at all times.
  13. Role Constraints: The “Australian of the Year” head of state role is ceremonial, adhering to conventions and refraining from political involvement. The elected head of state cannot exercise reserve powers.
  14. Replacement Mechanism: In case of misadventure or impeachment, the Governor-General or respective Governors will act as replacements.
  15. Misconduct and Removal: Processes for removing an elected head of state due to misconduct will be established.

In essence, this proposed model outlines the transformation from a constitutional monarchy to a republic by electing an Australian head of state while preserving key aspects of the existing constitutional structure.

The Crown in Australia

A summary of several key ideas related to the Crown of Australia, its constitutional structure, and the challenges in transitioning from a constitutional monarchy to a republic. Here’s a summary of the main points:

  1. Federation and Crown: After the 1901 Federation, Australia operated under the British Crown. It’s a constitutional monarchy with a Westminster system consisting of federal, state, and local governments.
  2. Independence and the Statute of Westminster: Australian independence began around 1930, culminating in the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942 and the Australia Acts 1986. This changed Australia’s relationship with the British Crown, marking a foundational shift.
  3. Nature of the Crown: The nature of the Crown of Australia is debated. States define their own divisible Crowns, but there’s also the view of a federal Crown. The head of state is the monarch, with independent vice-regal representatives at the federal and state levels.
  4. Governor-General and State Governors: Australia has multiple vice-regal representatives, distinct from other Commonwealth nations. Comparing Australia with Ireland, where a one-to-one relationship between the monarch and the vice-regal representative existed before Ireland became a republic, demonstrates Australia’s uniqueness.
  5. Structural Challenges: Converting Australia into a republic is complex due to the one-to-many relationship between the monarch and their representatives. Changing roles while maintaining the Federation’s structure poses challenges.
  6. The Federation Star: The Australian National Flag symbolizes the Commonwealth and six states with a seven-pointed “Federation Star,” representing both the bodies’ political and, since the Australia Acts 1986, the divisible Crowns.
  7. Role of the Monarch: The monarch provides personal unity for the divisible Crown of Australia, a role often overlooked in republic models.
  8. High Court’s Perspective: The High Court of Australia identified different meanings of “the Crown,” including its role as the body politic, the international representative, the government, and the sovereign office.

In essence, the text delves into Australia’s historical ties to the British Crown, the complexities of its unique constitutional monarchy, and the challenges of transitioning to a republic while preserving the country’s federal structure.

CT Group Investigation at

Crosby Textor was the early master of smart polling and cut-through political messaging for conservative politics. But 20 years on, the organisation, rebranded as C|T Group, has moved to the very centre of political power while also acting as lobbyists. In a new Crikey series, investigations editor David Hardaker examines C|T’s unique business model and the international levers it pulls.