Fighting for a new constitution
A GROUP of about 130 men who fought in the Vietnam War as part of the Alpha Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR) have got together in the Whitsundays over the past week to relive old memories and make some new ones.
For one of them though, the reunion was more than just a holiday in a beautiful part of Australia and a chance to honour the fallen in local Anzac Day ceremonies.
For Commanding Officer of the 6RAR's 1966-67 Company, Charles Mollison, the visit to the Whitsundays was the first of many he'll make to regional Australia during 2010 in a bid to build the profile of a book he has recently had published, which has the potential to reshape the way Australians live.
Mr Mollison believes Australia's structure of governance has become dysfunctional, with the Federal and State Governments no longer capable of working together to ensure that important decisions get the best outcome for every day Australians.
For that reason he has spent the last 10 years drafting the basis for a new constitution, which Mr Mollison believes is at the heart of the current dysfunction.
“The constitution is inadequate for the 21st century,” Mr Mollison said.
“It was designed as a constitution for a federation of half a dozen British colonies, not an independent nation.”
Mr Mollison said that one of the biggest difficulties that Australia's constitution caused today is that the states have the bulk of the power but the Federal Government has most of the fundraising capacity.
This has caused a situation where the Federal Government has to make huge compromises or concessions to make any major changes, the most recent example of which he said was Kevin Rudd's attempted health reforms.
“Everyone can see that the nation's hospitals are a shambles at the moment,” Mr Mollison said.
“The Rudd Government saw that something had to be done and he's doing his best but the reform process is frustrated by the structure and the allocation of power.”
Mr Mollison said that if his constitution was adopted reforms of this nature would not be compromised by power struggles.
Under the constitution proposed by Mr Mollison, state governments would be dissolved and replaced by smaller regional governments which would be made up of a panel of representatives, each elected from areas containing just 5000 people.
From that panel, one representative would then be elected to sit on the National Parliament, which would be responsible for creating policy on all issues requiring consistency. The regional governments would then be responsible for implementing that policy in their own electorates.
Taxes would be centralised so only the National Parliament would be capable of raising funds, which would then be distributed evenly among the regional governments on a per capita basis.
The regional governments would share in 75 per cent of all funds raised while the National Parliament would keep 25 per cent for defence, customs and other national portfolios.
Mr Mollison is hoping his draft constitution becomes regular dinner table conversation in households across the nation in the coming years and expects that public discourse will eventually lead to a people power style push that would force the Federal Government to hold a referendum to decide whether or not a new constitution was necessary.
“We need a groundswell of people power to achieve what we're trying to achieve,” Mr Mollison said.
“Australia has led the world in lots of political and social issues and this is another opportunity to do that.”
Mr Mollison's book, ‘The First Draft of a Constitution for the Sovereign Nation of Australia', can be downloaded for free or purchased in hard copy form from the website – www.national-renewal.org.au