December 20

ABC radio republic debate

I should mention that last Wednesday, 14 December, Tony Delroy presided over an ABC debate on “the “republic.

(It shouldn’t really be referred to as “the “republic, because the republican establishment all now claim to be what is being called RWM’s – Republicans Without a Model!)

The ARM was represented by their Victorian convener, Mr. Peter van Vliet, who is a political adviser to Mr. Lindsay Tanner, MHR, the federal Labor shadow minister for communications. I represented ACM.

The programme was broadcast nationally on ABC local and regional radio.

Mr. van Vliet had lamented some months ago that the rise of “our Mary” ( the Princess of Denmark) might well be causing some republicans to give up, in despair.

Notwithstanding that, he told the ABC audience that Australia must -I repeat must- become a republic. Why? So we can be truly independent!

I said that it would surprise and amuse Canadians that they were not independent because the Queen of Canada is Elizabeth II! After all they are a G8 power, sitting at the top table of the Western world! They decided not to join the Iraqi intervention, and unlike the US and Australia have signed the Kyoto protocol.

Then there are the New Zealanders, who have effectively left the ANZUS alliance. These countries seem pretty independent to me. But the ARM foolishly claims that none of them, Australia, New Zealand or Canada are independent.

The ARM pushed this silly line before the referendum, and it got them nowhere.

Then, despite the scholarly efforts of Sir David Smith, the ARM still says the Governor-General is not our Head of State. If this is so, why was Sir David’s detailed submission to the Senate virtually unanswered, and why has no republican published anything like Sir David’s substantial book, which was recently launched by Bill Hayden?

The Governor- General is received in foreign countries, including the Vatican, as Head of State. He’s recognized by international organizations, such as the UN, as Head of State. Not however by our ARM, which incidentally doesn’t seem to have an office anymore, and has just changed its leadership, again.

The sole criticism Mr van Vliet could make of Sir David’s book is not of the contents, not of the substance, but by raising the irrelevant fact that he is not a constitutional lawyer!

Sir David, who is a political scientist, knows more on this than the average blinkered republican.

The former Chief Justice, Sir Anthony Mason, once once tried to take him on, and came off second best. When he dismissed Sir David’s arguments as "arrant nonsense", Sir David responded by citing law and fact. He shredded Sir Anthony’s case which was both legally and factually flawed.

(I related this in all its embarrassing detail in The Cane Toad Republic, and it is also on the Samuel Griffith Society website.)

No wonder most republican lawyers have been pretty reluctant to take on Sir David since.

Now the really extraordinary theme the ARM is pushing is that while they demand a republic, they confess that they haven’t the foggiest idea what sort of republic they want!

Until next time,

and Merry Christmas from all at ACM,

David Flint

[email protected]

Read Sir David Smith on Sir Anthony Mason’s opinion


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