In this column on 16 June, 2006, ‘WA Minister’s disgraceful justification for creeping republicanism’, we reported that a new low has been set by another politician attempting to justify creeping republicanism, instead of doing his job.ACM’s Western Australian Convenor, the Hon. Bill Hassell had condemned suggestions from, and the offensive reasons offered by the WA Health Minister, the Hon. Jim McGinty, to rename the King Edward Hospital and the Princess Margaret Hospital when they are moved to the Sir Charles Gardner Hospital Site. (Until recently, all members of the WA Parliament solemnly swore on the Bible or affirmed their allegiance to The Queen. They still owe allegiance to Her Majesty.)
The royal titles were in fact bestowed in 1909 and 1949 respectively. Mr. McGinty was appearing before an estimates committee hearing in Perth, according to The West Australian of 26 May, 2006. In doing so Mr. McGinty had scathingly attacked the character of the late King as a “womanising philanderer” and had been cruel in his references to Princess Margaret, with reckless indifference to the feelings of her sister The Queen, her children and other relatives, friends and admirers. If she had been anyone else, he would have been condemned. It seems as if anything can be said of royalty, and with impunity.
As Mr Hassell said: “Just because he doesn’t like the monarchy, that doesn’t give him the right to be obnoxious.” What has happened to chivalry and decency in public life? Mr McGinty has disgraced the republican movement, supporters of which should disown him. The Premier should discipline him.
A number of readers have written to say how appalled they are by Mr. McGinty’s remarks. They will be interested that soon after the report , on 1 June, 2006, Mr. Neil Fearis, the Chairman of the West Australian branch of ACM sent the following to the West Australian:
“Dear Sir, It is perhaps a measure of how confident the Carpenter Labor Government feels about its standing in the electorate that the State’s senior law officer, Attorney-General Jim McGinty, was happy for his views on the Royal Family to be publicly quoted (“Healthy serve for royal faults has names on notice”, InsideCover, 26/5).We might have hoped that a politician of Mr. McGinty’s seniority had got beyond this kind of schoolboy republicanism by now.
“What Mr. McGinty and other republicans seem unable to accept is that when Australians voted by a sizable majority in the 1999 referendum to reject a republic, they signalled that they didn’t regard this as an issue central to the welfare and prosperity of their nation or one on which politicians should be wasting further time and public money. Despite this clearly expressed wish, Labor politicians around the country persist in their efforts at creeping republicanism, whether it be removing portraits of the Queen from government offices, abolishing oaths of allegiance, or renaming public hospitals.
“Mr. McGinty’s gratuitous remarks about members of the Royal Family might win him applause from the dwindling band of chardonnay republicans that inhabit Perth’s inner suburbs, but an astute politician (which Mr. McGinty undoubtedly is) would recognise that there are simply no votes in pushing the republic barrow because Australians have made it clear they are not interested in revisiting this issue in the foreseeable future.In 1972 the ALP told Australians ‘It’s time’. It is indeed time, Mr. McGinty, for you to grow up and move on.