[ The following exchange between ABC presenter Monica Attard and Mrs Cherie Blair was broadcast on the ABC AM programme " Sounds of Summer" on 17 January at 8:00 am. Mrs Blair was introduced, surprisngly, as "the former first lady of the United Kingdom."
Elizabeth Jackson then said that Mrs. Blair "was lauded by her fans for maintaining an independent life as a barrister. But her critics, and there have been many, described her as a 'vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper'.
The introduction continued: "She was in Australia in 2008 promoting a book all about her life at Number 10 Downing Street called 'Speaking For Myself'.
"Cherie Blair was a guest on ABC Local Radio's Sunday Profile program. Monica Attard asked if she'd discovered anything new about herself while writing the book". ]
MONICA ATTARD: Now there is now in Australia a new Labor Government as you no doubt know with a…
CHERIE BLAIR: I do and indeed I've met Kevin and Therese too.
MONICA ATTARD: Well they certainly have a republic firmly within their sights for this country. Do you think Australia should be a republic?
CHERIE BLAIR: Well I think that's absolutely a matter for the Australians. All I can say is that as someone who is often portrayed as someone who's against the royal family, I hope my book makes it perfectly clear not only how much I admire the Queen, but also how kind personally she was not just to me but also to my whole family, including my little boy of course and my mother.
But you know Prince Philip too, I think people wouldn't necessarily think Prince Philip and I would get on but we got on very well because we had this common interest in IT and we used to swap stories about our latest bit of technical equipment.
And then when you go to Balmoral, it's an amazing event. And every year the Prime Minister goes to spend the weekend with the royal family and one of the things that happens is you have this barbecue. And I know that everyone thinks Australians are into their barbecues but the barbecues in Balmoral are definitely unique events.
And there, for me again for a girl from Liverpool to be there and have Prince Philip cook you a barbecue and the Queen at the end clear the plates and acting as a normal family was an enormous privilege.
MONICA ATTARD: You don't think there comes a time in the building of a nation when it should stand back and assess whether or not its ties to the motherland are something that should be cut or whether there's any benefit in continuing them?
CHERIE BLAIR: One of the great things I think about not just Australia, but the Commonwealth in general is the fact that we can have those links and those are links which are based not just on shared history but also on things like the common law and the rule of law and those links are definitely worth keeping. And myself I am a passionate believer in the Commonwealth and what it can achieve and I know that Australia is too.
ELIZABETH JACKSON: Cherie Blair speaking with Monica Attard. And you've been listening to a current affairs special.