There are interesting parallels between the EU referenda and ours in 1999. It is clear from the vote in France, and the 62 per cent No vote in the Netherlands, that while the elites strongly supported the EU constitution, the rank and file, for example those in la france profonde, opposed it just as strongly. As in Australia, the more obstinate and less realistic among the elites just will not accept the decision. They are trying to work out how to circumvent the clear decision of the people.
(This approach of the elites – that they obviously know better then the people – seems to be universal. I have just learned, in the Spring 2005 edition of the Canadian Monarchist League newspaper, of an outrageous proposal by a well known Canadian retired politician and constitutional commentator, Edward McWhinney. He suggests a devious plan for the politicians to turn Canada into a republic without a constitutional amendment! He argues the Supreme Court would block any attempt to correct this deceit and to make the politicians behave constitutionally!
We all know that is what some of the elite politicians would like to do – just look at the example the NSW crew has been giving us! To come out openly and propose that the politicians subvert the constitution itself is a new low in public life!) But to return to the EU, the constitutions of many, indeed most of the EU member countries do not require a referendum – even when it is proposed to wind up their countries as sovereign independent states! Full marks again to our Founders who made sure that our elites could never make the decision for us. No wonder then that the republican movement is calling on Australians to throw out what the ARM calls our OUTDATED CONSTITUTION. They obviously hate the fact that our Founders placed the power to change the Constitution where it should be- in the hands of the people. How much easier it would have been if the politicians could have done it for us, as in most countries. A report by Peter Ker in The Age, on 30 May, 2005, STRONG ARM TACTICS, told readers that the ARM, having unsuccessfully tried to turn the Royal Wedding into a movement for constitutional change, is now calling on Australians to reflect on their OUTDATED CONSTITUTION during the Commonwealth Games. We should be wary. When the republicans call on us to reflect on our Constitution, they mean ,of course, that we should throw it out! In response to this report, I sent this letter to The Age:
30 May, 2005
Do the republicans never learn? In 1999, they insisted we had to change our constitution and our flag for the Olympic Games! Now they are at it again. Australians are well aware that our constitution is not "outdated"-it’s only half the age of the American! After spending millions on their folly, we decided this question-by a landslide- in 1999. There is no reason to revisit this question, and certainly not for a sporting contest.
But back to the EU. Some of the leaders sensibly understand that with the the French vote, the game is up. Even the French do not see any good reason to be swallowed up in a vast new federation to be run by the Eurocrats. Thus Stephen Byers, a former minister and a close friend of Tony Blair said: " It would be a grave mistake…to ignore or try to explain away this expression of popular feeling" Former Labour leader, Lord Kinnock ( British Labour has no aversion to titles) said that we "can sensibly come to one conclusion….referendums produce results and results have to be lived with." Both of course know that a UK referendum is now completely out of the question. In my view, it was lost from the moment it was announced, as will the promised referendum or plebiscite to substitute the Euro for the pound sterling. But the current President of the EU Council, and Luxembourg PM, Jean-Claude Juncker, reminded me of a comment made recently by Paul Keating. M. Juncker said France and the Netherlands should re-run their referendums in order, believe it or not, in order to obtain THE RIGHT ANSWER! Obviously he is like our own republicans, particularly Mr Keating, who is still talking about the wrong question being put in the 1999 referendum. There is one final point. As Peter Cavanagh, who is on the ACM board, points out, there is one difference between the reporting of the French referendum and ours in 1999.
Everyone says the French No vote was OVERWHELMING – or words to that effect. One report described it as HUGE! Not so the Australian vote, although the national vote was about the same. I was looking at a Canadian site recently. Reflecting no doubt the republican bias of most of our media, where they would have found this view, the Australian result was described as… CLOSE! Close?
All states voted No, as did 72 per cent of electorates. This was not close- it was a landslide! A landslide made more convincing in the light of the wealth of those advancing the Yes case. and the overwhelming political and media support the republicans enjoyed. As some people would say, you just cannot win. But I have no doubt who will win the next referendum-if there is one. The winner will be the Australian people, who know the value of their existing Constitution.
Until next time,