June 19

Newspapers – wedded to politicians’ republic whose time has passed


Peter Coleman observes in his Spectator Australia column (16/6) that at the time of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, Australia’s newspapers “were as usual confused when they were compelled to revisit the republic versus monarchy debate”.

The former NSW opposition leader and editor of The Bulletin says we Australians have the best of both worlds – a crowned republic.

This was just before the Fairfax newspapers announced drastic changes, indicating that the print versions of their newspapers would become tabloids and could be closed down.

Constitutional monarchists do not rejoice in the threat to these journals of record. But they will recall that the line advanced by the print media for the last two decades has not only been that our constitutional monarchy is doomed.

….politicians' republic inevitable  insisted newspapers – anyone who stands in the way is irrelevant…

Worse, the usual line has been that anyone who supports the Crown is isolated, living in the past and deserves to be ridiculed. The Fairfax newspapers in particular have turned their backs on the landslide in 1999, and the clear massage in the polls. News Limited has been far more realistic.


For two decades now I have been told regularly by supporters of ACM that they have stopped subscribing to one or other broadsheet newspaper because of what they perceive as their unrelentingly biased presentation. The broadsheets effectively replied that they had no need for such subscribers. After all people were reading their papers on line in record numbers.

Now I doubt that people actually read newspapers on line in the way that you can read a newspaper page by page. Rather they read a few reports. I much prefer to read the newspapers, and only resort to the online versions when I cannot get the print version.  

And anyway, as The New York Times concluded,  print readers are worth about 200 times the return from internet subscribers, at least where there is no paywall. And the trouble with paywalls is that few internet readers are prepared to pay for access. The horse has well and truly bolted.

Yet the broadsheets  regularly insult and belittle subscribers who are supporters of the constitutional monarchy and the flag. During the referendum the newspapers, followed by most of the electronic media, foolishly overplayed their hand. As the distinguished former British editor Lord Deedes observed in the London Daily Telegraph on 8 November, 1999:

I have rarely attended elections in any country, certainly not a democratic one, in which the newspapers have displayed more shameless bias. One and all, they determined that Australians should have a republic and they used every device towards that end.”

… wedded to politicans’ republic whose time has passed…

But back Peter Coleman’s recent column. The former NSW Opposition Leader and editor of The Bulletin said the newspapers were trying to do is two things at once about the Diamond Jubileee.

"One was to honour the Queen. The other was to stick up for republicanism.

"They square the circle by insisting Australians admire the monarch but not monarchy.

"To persist with the monarchy would, The Age said, 'inappropriate'. (The weasel word shows its lack of conviction.

"The’job’ (another Age word) should not be inherited.

"The problem, as The Sydney Morning Herald observed in an excellent editorial, is that the monarchy 'inspires respect far beyond what unelected head of government might expect. It may be possible to blend the two.The Americans managed to combine frequent contempt for their president with continuing reference his office.'

But as Peter Coleman says, "Australia does not have to choose between the crown and the soapbox.

"We have the best of both worlds already – a crowned republic."



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