Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 1783 ..
MR KAINE (continuing):
our present status to be changing the oaths we take. Mr Humphries has made the point that, if we did this, we would be the only parliament in Australia that has chosen to take this new course of action. What does that mean? Does that mean that the ACT suddenly becomes a republic overnight? I do not think so. It does not change our status one jot and it does not change the fact that our head of state is still Queen Elizabeth, Queen of Australia.
What is it about this current status that is so repugnant to people that they want to cast off something that is part of our current law, part of our current Constitution? Let the debate run, let the debate be concluded, and I will live with the outcome, just as I would expect everybody else to do. I might not like the outcome, but I will live with it and I will comply with the law as it then becomes. But, until that time occurs, why cannot other people have the same tolerance and live with the law and the situation as it is? It is not going to change anything one jot, except what we say when we come into this place on the first occasion after being elected and mumble some words about to whom we offer our allegiance.
I do not know quite what the new proposal means. What does it mean to have allegiance to the people of the ACT? Which ones?
Mr Berry: All of them.
MR KAINE: How do you know what they require of you? We cannot do better than get some sort of consensus when we go to an election. We cannot do better than get some sort of consensus when we have a referendum. How do we know what the people in their totality demand of us? We do not know; so, when it comes down to swearing allegiance to the people of the ACT, I suspect that it is going to be defined rather more narrowly when the time comes. The Labor Party, for example, will discover that their allegiance is not to the people of the ACT but to those who constitute the preselection college of the Labor Party. That is where their allegiance would lie in practical terms. To take this oath in the form in which it is currently being put forward is, if you like, to misrepresent what the true situation will be should it be passed.
However, once the debate on the republic is over, if it is determined that Australia will become a republic, we are going to have to develop new forms and new styles, and I do not know what forms and styles will be most appropriate when that time comes. There are other people better qualified than I am, and I submit that there are better qualified people than Rosemary Follett, to determine what the form of those things should be when the time comes. We are at the moment bogged down on rather more major issues, such as how you go about electing a president, if we become a republic. That is an issue that needs some attention focused on it. But the form of oath we are going to take after we have one is another issue altogether.
I must say that I have never had any trouble giving my oath of allegiance to the Queen or the King of Australia, as it was from time to time. I will continue to do so until the law changes and requires me to do otherwise, but I do not support this particular change. Some of the rather facile explanations we get as to why it is necessary are singularly unconvincing. I do not know why this place does not get on with some real business and address the issues that really concern our community, rather than this sort of nonsense.