September 15

Is Peter Costello serious?

 

Is Peter Costello serious?


Does he really think Australians would hand over the keys of the constitution just because a  Prime Minister Costello might have told them so?

He laments (some would be cruel enough to say he whinges) that this was one area where his government “could have done better.”

He says it could have “solved” the constitutional issues concerning a republic.

By this he presumably means his government could have supported the only republican model in the world where it would have been easier for any prime minister to sack the president than his cook.

In this monstrous concentration of power –  inconceivable to anyone who sees himself in the tradition of Robert Gordon Menzies –  the core check and balance on the politicians could be sacked at any time by the chief politician.

This sort of sacking was not even mentioned in the severest critiques of Work Choices.

Unbelievably, it would be without reason, without notice and without appeal.

Imagine if Gough Whitlam had been endowed with that  power in 1975.

…low estimation of the Australian people…

The idea that  the people would go along with this constitutional monstrosity  suggests a very low estimation of your fellow Australians.

Perhaps the overwhelming majority of political journalists and politicians were, in 1999,only returning the low estimation which Australians have of them.

 

But as the late Dick McGarvie said, “Australians are a wise constitutional people.”  

Just think of 1967, when they gave overwhelming support to the Aboriginal referendum, but smelt a very big rat when all the major parties told them to end the nexus requiring the Senate to be half the size of the house.

(They were assisted there by the wise counsel of one small party, the DLP.)

 Peter Costello should have paid – and still should pay more attention to Dick Mc Garvie’s warning.
 
After all, on his sudden conversion from Menzies’  crowned republic, Peter Costello initially threw his weight  behind  Dick Mc Garvie’s “least worst” republican model.

 

This was to be where a council of éminences grises would unconvincingly play the role of our Sovereign, and was also the most easy model to defeat.

That was why the monarchists were told to support it to make it the Convention model, and then defeat it in the referendum.

The monarchists would not have a bar of such a manoeuvre, which won them the praise of Cardinal Pell.

In any event, with the leadership of the handful of politicians and others brave enough to reject the republican juggernaut, and an army of No case volunteers, over 55,000, the Australian people convincingly rejected Mr Costello’s second republican preference.

…”headline a day” slow feed of these memoirs… 

  

Earlier in the carefully timed “headline-a-day” slow feed of his memoirs Peter Costello had  accused John Howard of usurping the role of the Governor-General.

Excuse me, but isn’t this the same Peter Costello who did his level best to destroy the office?

 Until the 1998 Convention, Peter Costello had been a committed supporter our present crowned republic.

But the Convention offered him a rare and golden opportunity to demonstrate a degree of brand differentiation from John Howard.

Under the rules of cabinet solidarity he could rarely do this.

His action encouraged too many naive Liberal politicians to fall into two traps.

One was the wedge Paul Keating had so brilliantly put through the Liberal Party.

The other was the “inevitability” thesis pushed by a mainly hostile commentariat.

…John Howard “ usurped “ viceregal role…

Mr. Costello now says that in times of national tragedy John Howard usurped the vice-regal role, according to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald , 12 September, 2008.

Now it is important that in these times, someone in authority represent the Commonwealth of Australia.

But who actually does this on any particular occasion is hardly a constitutional issue, but one of commonsense   convenience, and respect.

What is of fundamental importance is that there be a constitutional check and balance against the concentration of politicians who control the House of Representatives and therefore the government. 

The rank and file members and supporters of the Liberal Party, and the blue collar supporters of the Labor party have never agreed – and will not agree -to handing the key to the constitution to the politicians of either party.

That is why a referendum for a  politicians’ republic ( of either model) is not imminent.

This is because of one thing and one thing only.

The republican politicians expect they would lose, and not just marginally.

Mr. Costello makes no mention of the fact that the founder of the Liberal Party, Sir Robert Menzies, was absolutely and irreconcilably committed to the fundamental principles of our constitutional system – an indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown – our crowned republic.

As have been  the greatest  leaders of the Australian Labor Party.

All of them.


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