November 2

Authoritarian republicans

Republicans want to change everything, including our flag and our anthem. Without consulting the people of course – they know the people will say No. The republicans are once again showing an unpleasant authoritarian or even dictatorial trait. Louise Trecassi, wrting  in  “Showground not so royal” in The Adelaide Advertiser of 24 October , 2006  reported that  the Royal Adelaide Showground, managed by the oldest business association in South Australia – the Royal Agricultural & Horticultural Society of SA, is to be renamed the Adelaide Showground.

According to The Advertiser, a showground marketing executive Penelope Bettison said the renaming was "not a political statement". She said the venue, known as the Adelaide Showground in 1925, was returning to its roots. She said the word "royal" would be maintained for events such as the annual show. Her explanation was that: "We wanted to simplify the brand. The term royal suggests something traditional and historical but that doesn’t reflect the venue or contemporary nature of our facilities".

The Advertiser asked me my views, and reported this comment: "We shouldn’t be getting rid of heritage and traditions. It’s a pity to take away something that has been with the people of Adelaide for some considerable time”. I made the point both to the newspaper and to the ABC that South Australia had voted strongly against the republicans preferred model in 1999, and that they had not been consulted on this name change. I asked where would it end. Would the name Adelaide itself, and King William Street be changed by republican authorities without reference to the people?





The Australian Republican  Movement  predictably said the term was redundant and irrelevant. It is clear that the ARM wants to move on a republic against the peoples’ wishes. The Advertiser said the Premier Mike Rann did not want to enter the debate. 


In its editorial on the same day, “What’s in a royal title” The Advertiser observed that the change of name was “a subtle reflection of changing times. In form, if not in substance, Australia is an independent republic. While the Queen remains the nominal, ceremonial head of state, the reality is Australia is a boisterous, independent democracy with only tenuous ties with Britain. Royalist diehards may disagree, but in many cases the use of the word royal in institutional names is outmoded and unnecessary.” 


The editor said that in the 2006/07 telephone directory, the “Royal Adelaide Showground shares the page with, among others, the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society, various royal titles for gynaecologists, general practitioners, surgeons, physicians, psychiatrists, nurses, flying doctors, architects and radiologists, as well as the Royal Automobile Association and, perhaps more appropriately, the Royal Caledonian Society. Nobody denies them the right to use the royal title. But it is pertinent to question whether it is any longer relevant”. 


It is even more pertinent to ask what the people think, and what will protect names like Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Hobart, Brisbane, Sydney, Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales from republican change.  Australians now realize the republicans will only ask the people if they are legally bound to do so.  Imagine what they would do if they got their republic.




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