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Was our Prime Minister trying to become our President?

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John Howard, our Prime Minister, announced that he planned to take over control of a Tasmanian public hospital. I would have thought that he was behaving outside the constitution which left to the sovereign states all but a specified set of powers.

John Gorton, Prime Minister in the 1970s, was criticized by John Carrick, the Secretary of the NSW Liberal Party, for trying to take powers from the states. I argue that Gorton was simply trying to bring the federal-state relationship up to date seventy years after the foundation of the Commonwealth and the writing of the Federal constitution so that those functions which had been controlled by states in the nineteenth century but which were now more appropriately handled by the federal government such as international trade should be transferred to the federal role. This would, of course, need a referendum to amend the Australian Constitution.

John Howard however said that he planned to take functions which are explicitly outside the federal constitution from a state by some kind of fiat. I suspect that this was for electoral campaigning purposes rather than for some good, necessary purpose. How very "Presidential". He had taken George W. Bush, a failed US President, as his role model.

The post-script to this is that the hospital in question failed in its duty to the citizens after the take over!

The post-post-script is that the electorate at the recent Federal election decided that John Howard's time had come to retire.

Created: 1/1/08 and last revised 1/1/08
Author: Robin Chalmers - Copyright in all the material on this site is asserted by the author.
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