2004 Oration

A republican president – or a presidential republic?

The 2nd Henry Parkes Oration: Dr Neal Blewett
26 October. National Library, Canberra

Dr Neal Blewett

Dr Neal Blewett

This was the second oration in a series which is planned to take place annually, alternating between Canberra and in Tenterfield. The first Oration was delivered in Tenterfield by the former Governor of NSW, Gordon Samuels, on the theme ‘Australia in the 21st century – Living in Peace and Freedom?’. The distinguished speaker for this second Oration, before a large audience in the Theatre of the National Library, Canberra. was Dr Neal Blewettt.

Dr Blewett is a former Australian High Commissioner in London, a former Federal Cabinet Minister, and a current member of the Board of Advisers of the Henry Parkes Foundation.

In a wide-ranging and penetrating address Dr Blewett explored the role and nature of the presidential office in democratic nations. Among the many issues he canvassed were the relationship of the position to elected parliaments, the many options for defining presidential responsibilities, and methods of election and removal of the president.

The presentation extended the conventional boundaries of debate and provoked lively discussion, chaired by chaired by well known consititutiional lawyer Dr Helen Irving. It admirably complemented the objective of the Foundation of enhancing our understanding of Australia’s constitutional structures and political systems: when inevitably the question of an Australian president again becomes widely debated, the elegant arguments outlined by Dr Blewett will be an invaluable reference. It is intended that the Oration be published and in due course made available on the Foundation’s website.

The Parkes Foundation is extremely grateful to the National Library of Australia for making its facilities available and helping organise the event. Thanks are due also to Canberra band ‘Hashimoto’ for its part in making the evening memorable.

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