It was good to see that the Queensland Nationals Senate candidates have come out to declare their very strong belief that Australia’s move to a Republic is not inevitable, would not produce better Government, would not fix any single problem currently faced by Australia and would only serve as a distraction from the real tasks of elected representatives.
They were responding to comments made by the Federal Treasurer and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, Peter Costello.
Mr Costello said on ABC Radio National:"I think we will become a republic and I think that the symbols of Australia at the moment are fraying…"
The Queensland Nationals Senate Team for the next Federal election, Barnaby Joyce, James Baker and Dr Stuart Gillies, have committed themselves to protecting Australia’s 103 year old Constitution and system of Government. Politicians from all parties should follow their lead.
I think the Leader of the Senate Team, Barnaby Joyce made the crucial point when he said, that the acid test of new Constitutional arrangements is whether they make Australia a better place to live. Nobody, he said, has made a successful argument about how Australians will be better served by scrapping our current Constitution and starting again, which will unarguably be the result if the republican push succeeds.
He continued: "While we greatly respect our Coalition colleague, Mr Costello, he has only served to reiterate the dangers of constitutional change for the sake of it. Mr Costello admitted that having a directly elected President would lead to conflict between the Prime Minister and the President – conflict between a Parliamentary majority and a majority of the popular vote."
On that Mr. Joyce is right. He no doubt remembers that the alternative-the so called parliamentary model- was put to the people in 1999. This was the best form of that model that the republicans could devise. He campaigned for it- vigorously. It was defeated in every state, including Victoria.
The Australian people would not think too kindly of politicians who keep trying to persuade them to accept something they don’t want.
On a recent visit to Kalgoorlie, a school girl told me that no- one could decide on a republic until they had seen the model. Anyway, she said it is a waste of time and money.
Mr Costello’s reason for change is at least inventive, but it just doesn’t stack up. He claims that the vice-regal offices of State Governor and Governor General have become too difficult to keep controversy-free! So we must change all of our constitutions!
As James Baker says:" Tell President Bill Clinton that his role in a republic didn’t attract public scrutiny of personal peccadilloes…Tell it also to recently elected Californian State Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and tell it to New Jersey State Governor James McGreevey who resigned after revealing an affair with a man."
" In truth," he said, "anyone in a position of authority in a western democracy has become fair game for media scrutiny, be they elected or appointed. This has nothing to do with vice-regal capacity. Changing to a republic would not avert scandal. The argument has not been made for change and the republic is no sure thing."
The Queensland Nationals Senate candidates are to be congratulated for their strong stand in defending our Constitution which has served us so well.
Until next time,