January 18

Mark Latham’s republicanism by exhaustion

Ivan Molloy was the controversial ALP candidate for Fairfax, and was famously and mistakenly referred to by Mark Latham in a press conference as Ivan Milat, the notorious murderer.

His wife is also controversial, particularly when she said all Liberal MP’s were responsible for the bombing in Bali. Then the Courier Mail accused Dr Molloy of being associated with a Philippine terrorist group and published a photograph which they said supported this. Dr Molloy defends himself in the SMH/Age Good Weekend, 15 January, 2005.

For us, the interesting aspect was the revelation that Dr Molloy is a committed republican, and that he debated John Howard on the republic at the University of Queensland in late 1995. He claims he won the debate.

 Another committed republican in the news is Dr Glynn Davis, a former public servant who has become Vice Chancellor of the University of Melbourne. He served on Paul Keating’s Republic Advisory Committee, which went around the country unsuccessfully trying to raise enthusiasm for the republic. As Tony Abbott said, its success can be measured by the fact that some of its public meetings could have been held in a phone booth! When Dr Davis was Vice Chancellor of Griffith University he presided over a conference about the constitutional future of Australia. Unlike Corowa, no one from ACM was invited to speak, which quite frankly, was a relief. …… If you speak against republicanism at these gatherings, as we have found, some republicans behave very badly. This happened to some of us in the deliberative poll at old Parliament House in 1999, and at Corowa –where we were invited.

It also happened when Kerry Jones and I appeared before the Senate Committee last year at Parramatta. Our appearance was interrupted by the loud, frequent, noisy, and often incomprehensible interjections of a crew of elderly republicans.

Senator Bolkus, the Chairman observed to a colleague at the end of the session," I thought there was going to be a riot," a rather improbable eventuality given the age and immobility of most of the interjectors. They were not called to order, and I never protested- it was all far too amusing.

 Incidentally Dr Davis’ predecessor at Melbourne, Professor Alan Gilbert, once distinguished himself during the referendum by observing that if we voted No we would become an international laughing stock!

He has now been appointed a Vice-Chancellor of a British university. This could be interesting-it is not unusual for British Vice Chancellors to be knighted.

In the meantime the respect we enjoy in the region and the rest of the world has never been higher. Some laughing stock! 

 Mark Latham’s biographer, Craig McGregor, must also be a republican. Writing in The Age on 15 January, 2005, he urges the ALP to keep Mr. Latham as leader, a matter on which ACM has no position. Arguing about it with what he describes as a Latham sceptic the other night, he says he quickly ran through the worthy proposals Mr Latham had presented to the Australian people during the election campaign. Apart from some predictable matters on which ACM again has no position- he added something which even the republican press and Mr Latham himself avoided like the plague during the campaign.

 This was, you guessed it … ‘moving towards a republic’. Mr Latham promised the impossible-a vote every year to turn us into a republic. You have heard of creeping republicanism-this is, surely, exhausting republicanism.


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