October 20

An inevitable People’s Republic?



The republicans’ ultimate argument is that a republic is inevitable. John Ralston Saul wrote in The Australian review of 20 February, 2004 that “Inevitability is the traditional final justification for failing ideologies.”  And if a republic is inevitable, why are republicans so anxious to push it? 

Perhaps we already have one. According to The Australian 20 October 2007, Mr Kevin Rudd, the Leader of HM Loyal Australian Opposition says he comes from “the people’s republic of Queensland.”  The term was first adopted by communist dictators in Europe, Asia and Africa, including incidentally, those which were previously constitutional monarchies. A few non- communist states then began to use the term, including Colonel Gaddafi’s “Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.” More recently, it has been used in a jocular sense to describe left wing dominated entities. Thus Waverley Council in Sydney was described in this column on 11 January, 2006 as the People’s Republic of Bondi, when under left wing control it refused to fly our flag over the Bondi Pavilion, a position it was forced to abandon because of public outrage. Given the context, in which Mr. Rudd was saying there is a “digital divide” even in Queensland , we think Mr. Rudd was employing irony with the press. (The term “digital divide,” as Mr. Rudd used it, refers to the fact that some people do not for various reasons, rely on computers.)  

 As we reported in this column on 23 September, 2007, Mr. Rudd has announced that if he were to become prime minister, a referendum on some sort of republic will be held within three years, probably 2010. On Channel 10’s “Meet the Press” on 23 September 2007 Labor’s shadow health minister Nicola Roxon declared that “the republic will be an issue that we will pursue passionately.” This is not the view of traditional Labor voters.

The Prime Minister, Mr Howard, is opposed to a republic, but his likely successor if the Coalition wins, Peter Costello, favours a republican model similar to the one rejected in 1999. The Liberal Party, founded by a very strong constitutional monarchist, Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, now has no position on the question. Its Coalition partner, the National Party is strongly opposed to a republic.  


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