November 23

Paul Keating and The Flag


The Honourable Paul Keating remains active in Australian politics. He campaigned strongly against the recent changes to federal media law, but curiously remained silent when his former minister for immigration, the Hon. Chris Hurford suggested Mr. Keating overruled him when he wished to deny permanent residence and citizenship to the controversial cleric, Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly. When pursued by journalists after speaking on some matter of no doubt public importance, he shouted at them to “nick off”.  In Spectrum, 11-12 November 2006, The Sydney Morning Herald journal, he was interviewed by Tony Stephens.  He believes one reason the stage play “Keating!” has proved popular is “that what he calls "the game" – politics and public debate – is now without humour.” 
"The game is very dour. It's prim and proper and stitched up. The vernacular Australian has virtually gone. But satire can get a lot across. It can cut out the humbug".
Tony Stephens reports that Mr Keating believes another reason is the unsolved or unsettled issues in the national debate. Readers will not be surprised that Mr. Keating named “the” republic as an example. The use of the definite article here is of course wrong. Rather, Mr. Keating is speaking of “a” republic. From the way the republican movement is behaving, it means “any old republic’ provided we get rid of the Crown, which provides leadership beyond politics.
Mr. Keating’s interview will embarrass the republicans who pretend that the flag will remain under a republic. "In the end, the flag will have to go,” he says. "We can't go round with the flag of another country in the corner of our flag. We can't have King Charles, with Queen Camilla, as the constitutional head of Australia. It's absurd. People might not be talking much about this right now but these issues are like electric wires without caps on them."






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