“Much as the honours system is valued, it has never quite recovered from the former Government's decision to abandon titles such as knights and dames. These titles were thought to be redolent of the English class system and not appropriate for an egalitarian country,” declared the editor, much to my surprise – and pleasure.
“The argument was never wholly convincing. But what seems certain now is that the egalitarian version has not caught on as well as was hoped.”
This was sadly not the editor of one of our leading Australian newspapers speaking; this was the editor of The New Zealand Herald on 1 January, calling for the New Zealand system to be placed under the Governor-General. And what a wise and indeed brave editor he is.
The editor has been supported by Professor Noel Cox, Chairman of the Monarchist League of New Zealand.
In the meantime the NZ republican movement has held a mock election for a New Zealand president.
Well, it must have been an honest election. According to Lewis Holden, this was won by that great monarchist, one with a title, the incomparable Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.
In the meantime we are waiting for an editor of an Australian newspaper to draw the same conclusion as the wise editor of The New Zealand Herald , although D.D. McNicoll did say as much in The Australian on Australia Day in 2008 (“Revive Sirs or I'll have your guts for garters.”)
“Getting a knighthood or being appointed a dame,” compared with being made a companion in the Order of Australia, “is unmistakable,” he declared.
More importantly, we are waiting for an editor to call for an end to this republican nonsense.
The republican politicians know they will lose another referendum – why else are they planning either one or two plebiscites? (They can’t even agree on the number of plebiscites.)
And while they are engaged in this pointless wasteful manoeuvre, the real constitutional issue – how to make state government effective – is ignored.
Malcolm Mackerras is probably right. It will take another defeat to bring the politicians and regrettably too many in the media – to their senses. Apart from the millions more, and the divisions it will cause, valuable time and attention will be diverted from serious issues to do with the governance of our nation.
When and if Mr Rudd brings on a plebiscite, it is likely that the more shallow and nervous Liberals will immediately open their ranks to this wedge and jump on the republican bandwagon, thus showing their party divided. Indeed this is a significant part of the attraction for republicanism in Labor ranks – as Paul Keating demosntrated.
The corps of editors should show leadership on this, and call a halt to this nonsense.