You could not have helped but notice the word “Royal” emblazoned on the Prime Minister’s plane when he left Mackay airport in Queensland. It was as if he had renounced his republicanism in a very public way. But then it became clear. This was an aircraft of our Royal Australian Air Force.
Does Mr. Rudd understand that in his promised politicians’ republic, this is doomed? This will go along with the Royal Australian Navy, the proud designation HMAS on our ships, the Royal Australian Regiment, our Australian Flag and so much more of what is the heritage of the Australian nation and all the Australian people.
How sad that would be.
The photograph, incidentally, accompanies a droll story by Christian Kerr in The Australian (“Not flying, waving but where's the crowd?” 30/7). Mr Kerr asks why the Prime Minister insists on waving at nobody every time he gets on or off a plane.
Prime ministers haven't really been flying around for all that long, Mr Kerr says. “Crowds flocked to Neville Chamberlain's arrival back at Heston aerodrome in 1938 not just because of his mission to Munich, but because for the first time a British Prime Minister had journeyed overseas by aeroplane. Plus they were allowed there.”
He says that today nobody can come anywhere near PMs and their planes –except the PM’s s staff, security, ground crew, and the photographers and camera crew. “Those last two categories explain the waves.”
..self respect …
As to keeping the Royal Australian Air Force, and so much else, the Prime Minister insists he is a lifelong republican. But the opposition leader and former head of the republican movement Malcolm Turnbull says Mr. Rudd was conspicuous by his absence from the “barricades” in 1999, when the referendum was fought.
Tony Abbott makes a powerful point in Battlelines when he quotes the well known British philosopher Roger Scruton. Scruton says “self-respect requires respect for institutions; to the extent that we learn a habit of mockery towards our inheritance, to that extent we mock ourselves.”
Both Mr. Rudd and Mr. Turnbull should reflect carefully on Scruton’s words. Mr. Turnbull has at least renounced his previous flirtation with a new Flag.
Both should affirm that they will now refrain from chipping away at our heritage. And both should give up holding a sword of Damocles over our Constitution. Otherwise the sword may well fall on them.