We now have an interesting difference of opinion between the national newspaper, The Australian, and the Sydney broadsheet, The Sydney Morning Herald. The Australian argues that nobody is interested, and that while a republic will eventually come, it is not of great moment. The Herald has become imbued with the passion of a missionary, and not only argues that a republic is important, the editor has adopted fully and unquestioningly, the republican movement’s strategy to lock the people in by the use of two plebiscites and a referendum at the federal level.
The Herald also curiously endorses the controversial model where the president would be elected by the people, a model which even prominent republicans believe would be a disaster for the good governance of our nation..
Both newspapers have published editorials on this issue, and both published letters supporting and criticizing their positions.
From The Australian, 24 January, 2006:
Your editorial (“What republic?”, 23/1) is correct in stating there are good reasons why a republic can wait but as with much of the debate so far, it confined itself to the issue of the head of state. As a “status-quoer”, which is very different to a monarchist, I am disinclined to vote for change unless our whole creaky Constitution is reviewed. Just one example is the historical anomaly that is the states. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t read about state and territory ministers searching for common ground on issues of relevance to citizens no matter where they live: water, for instance, or education or transport. Unless I am offered options that canvass the Constitution as a whole, not just the “our head of state is a foreigner” rant, I will be quite happy to stay under the constitutional device that is the monarchy, along with the citizens of 15 other countries.
IT is about time some creative thought went into the issue of when Australia will formally become a republic. Australia’s titular monarch will do nothing without advice from the Prime Minister. Why don’t the monarchists in the Government persuade the PM to advise the Queen to celebrate her 80th birthday by relinquishing her position as Queen of Australia in favour of continuing friendship and co-operation between the two countries through the old Commonwealth? The PM could organise the signing of a declaration and a grand celebration in June after the Queen’s official birthday ceremony. This would be more friendly, cheaper and less time-consuming than a referendum and a solution both countries can be happy with.
THERE was one detail missing from your report (“Republicans wait for royal wavering”, 23/1) on the rebublicans’ barbecue: the number of attendees. Normally, in a report on a public event, the number of people involved would be seen as a key part of the story. For example, I saw in the press that 185,000 attended the Symphony in the Domain on Saturday evening. How many thousands were at Bondi?
YOU are wrong to refer to the “imperial link” in your editorial (23/1), for the monarchy is not just a relic of colonisation but the enduring symbol of all our major institutions, including parliament, the public service, judiciary, police and the military. The Queen is not a foreign monarch but an international one, surely an advantage for our pluralist society. As for Prince Charles’s snub of Chinese leaders in protest at the destruction of Tibetan culture, one might expect republicans would actually privately support his stance, unless they want totalitarian communism and the eradication of all national identity, including Australian.
YOUR article on the republican question (“Republicans wait for royal wavering”, 23/1) was noteworthy. It is inevitable that one day we will become a republic. Since the enactment of the Australia Act of 1976, we are virtually one now but the question of what model we should follow really needs to be sorted out first. A constitutional monarchy might not be the most ideal model but at least the fettered reserve powers the monarch holds — but rarely uses — would be kept out of the hands of politicians.
Coopers Plains, Qld
IT is extremely disappointing that The Australian has now decided to abandon the republican cause (“What republic?”, 23/1). You fail to mention that since the mid-1990s more Australians have supported a republic than a monarchy, which represents a massive vote of no-confidence in our present constitutional arrangements. You also adopt that most insipid monarchist argument that a republic won’t fix our social or economic problems; as if having unifying national symbols are of no particular importance. It is a great pity that your formerly patriotic newspaper, which was once such a strong advocate for a modern, independent and self-confident Australia, is now devoting all its intellectual energy to reducing the top marginal tax rate for the 3per cent of our most wealthy citizens.
Peter van Vliet
Australian Republican Movement
THE Australian Republican Movement has nobody to blame but itself for its worsening poll numbers. People are getting tired of the cheap one-liners, trendy slogans and, now, coloured ribbons that the ARM uses to push its cause. After 15 years of campaigning, if they don’t take Australians seriously enough to come up with a preferred republican model and put it out there for debate, then they shouldn’t be surprised when the public returns the favour.
Hampton East, Vic
BARRY Everingham is wrong (Letters, 23/1). We are not so much beholden to London or Washington as we are to Beijing. Our sovereign’s head is still on our coins but the real value of our money is in our trade with the People’s Republic of China.
From The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 January, 2006:
I was disappointed with your one-sided editorial "The Australian republic must rise again" (January 26). As the last referendum confirmed, there are many Australians who do not wish to see their history, tradition and heritage erased. In regards to independence, as our flag symbolises allegiance to Britain, if we were to cut this allegiance then surely a new flag has to be adopted?
I challenge the republican- minded: if you wish to erase our historic ties to Britain, then should not the right thing be for Australia to adopt the Aboriginal flag as the national flag?
Can the conservative society we live in handle such change?
Dylan Sanders Great Mackeral Beach
I see the republican agenda has been raised again, which leaves me wondering why. There is nothing a republic can offer us that our present system cannot, and there is a great deal it can take away. Despite the PC pundits blindly arguing the contrary, Australia’s heart and soul is British. Our politics, our education, our social mores, our heritage, all mirror those of Britain. To sacrifice this, and to ignore the significance of our history, would leave Australia with little or no national identity, with nothing to unify us as the Union Jack has done so successfully over the past two centuries.
Nick Kenny North Ryde
I do not favour an Australian republic, but if it does come, then I agree with Michael Gissing (Letters, January 26): we should have "a matey president who is happy to be on the dole in a caravan" because, if for no other reason, it would disqualify Messers (sic) Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke and Keating from the presidency.
Eric Brace Bonogin (Qld)
What about a sheila for head of state?
Vicky Marquis Bondi
I am totally desperate to have a mate for the republic.
Victor Szudek Rockdale