Over a pleasant coffee with David Marr of The Sydney Morning Herald and the ABC, I mentioned that republicans were as affected by the magic of monarchy as the rest of us. I recalled that I often say to members of the ACM, 'never stand between Australian republicans from Sydney and visiting royalty – even minor members of European royalty – otherwise you will be knocked over in the rush'."
Unfortunately in the editorial process the word “republicans” was removed. I sent the editor a brief letter.
The Herald piece “On her own head” is a balanced and realistic assessment of the likelihood of Australia becoming a politicians’ republic. David Marr realises that the current strategy of the politician republicans to start the next round at the end of the reign will not assure success.
Most of today’s republican politicians are likely to be gone then anyway. They know there is no interest among the rank and file in a politicians’ republic.
…no interest among the young…
On Thursday, after I appeared before a Parliamentary Committee arguing the Yes/No booklet be continued in future referendums, I appeared on a debate on the ABC’s Local Radio based in Adelaide. The stand –in presenter was the former Democrat Senator Natasha Stott- Despoja. The republican representative liked neither my reference to the fact that they won’t say precisely what sort of politicians’ republic they want, nor the cost of their long search.
Did you know there have been eleven taxpayer funded or subsidised exercises so far – and we still don’t know what they want?
During the ABC debate that had a neutral politics professor in the studio. When asked about his students he must have worried the republicans when he said they are not at all interested and thought this was all settled in the nineties and should not be revisited.
…monarchies and monarchs…
David Marr asked me my views on monarchy as an institution across the world and on the qualities of monarchs.
“For the convener of Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy, David Flint, the overthrow of the Whitlam government was a feather in the cap for the Crown. He also enthusiastically endorses the 1932 vice-regal sacking of the NSW premier, Jack Lang – although it saddens him that risk of another such crisis means no member of the royal family can ever inhabit Yarralumla. ‘They would need a guarantee and that is impossible to give.’ “
ACM’s endorsement is of the principle that it is for the Governor-General to decide when to exercise his or her powers to dismiss. We do not try to substitute our opinion for his, as that is futile. We must remember that Sir John was forced into the position of having to act by two politicians determined to retain or to gain power. When the Governor-General should act is of course open to debate, but at some stage the Governor-General will be forced to act where a government is attempting to govern without supply.
“An hour spent with this man shooting the breeze about monarchy is never wasted," continues Mr. Marr. "Professor Flint regrets the fall of the Nepalese house; chides America for the "serious error" of not restoring King Mohammed Zahir Shah of Afghanistan; would rather like to see the Habsburgs (‘They weren't evil people’) back in business; and is sure a Bourbon restoration would benefit France. ‘They've never been able to get a constitution that works in moments of stress. It collapses. It's a peculiar mix. It's doomed to failure.’ “
“Are monarchs different from you and me, I asked Flint over coffee at the Wentworth Sofitel."
" ‘No. Except that they are trained. Constitutional monarchs in a good system are trained from their early years to take the position.’ Anybody can be trained. ‘If, for example, the Queen had adopted a child, and that had been accepted, I can't see why that adopted person couldn't fulfil the function.’ They're not inherently more caring or intelligent? ‘Reasonable intelligence is required. You don't have to be a Nobel Prize winner to be a monarch. Indeed, it may be undesirable.’ “
And what is Mr. Marr’s conclusion about the Australian Crown? In his words, time is not necessarily working in the republicans’ favour.
That surely means that he agrees that a republic is not inevitable.