December 5

Peter FitzSimons- Sun Herald: Neville Bonner Oration

In a very busy year the leading republican, Mr. Peter FitzSimons, has been campaigning for a new Australian flag (see media clip below) and a new constitution in New Zealand (see this column "What New Zealanders are really interested in" 31 October).  

In the Sun Herald  on 5 December 2010 he wrote the following about the Neville Bonner Oration, which was delivered by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on 27 November:

Tony Abbott, delivering the Neville Bonner Memorial lecture to the Australians for Constitutional Fairytales on the virtues of Australia staying with the constitutional monarchy system:

“The wellsprings of its appeal are instinctual as much as rational: more akin to loyalty to a team, solidarity within a family or faith in a church than they are to support for a policy. Deep down, they are the heart’s reasons that reason doesn’t know.”

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…the context (see below)…

 {youtube}B-gTL-L1AX8{/youtube} Those two sentences were delivered in the following context.  (The full text can be seen on the ACM site )

For most Australians, the predominant reaction seems to have been pleasure at a young couple’s happiness mixed, perhaps, with the hope that William’s marriage might be less troubled than that of his parents.

The Daily Telegraph’s 10 page royal wedding special last weekend reflected great warmth towards the couple as well as concern about the pressures that they would inevitably face. 

For some Australians, though, the reaction has been more complicated. The editorial of the Sydney Morning Herald, for instance, was worried that the celebrations for William and Kate might be a distraction from the need for a republic. 

The subtext of much commentary has been bewilderment at the monarchy’s continued hold over the public’s imagination and annoyance at the way a wedding can trump argument. Its authors have usually managed to sound resentful and superior at the same time.  

On display was the perennial gap between the mainstream and a commentariat that can’t quite “get” an institution with its roots in an earlier time and a different way of thinking. There are good arguments for the monarchy but they’re often beside the point.

The wellsprings of its appeal are instinctual as much as rational: more akin to loyalty to a team, solidarity within a family or faith in a church than they are to support for a policy.

Deep down, they are the heart’s reasons that reason doesn’t know.

The inevitable counterpoint to public interest in wedding planning, the day itself and in the family to come will be a sour chorus of intellectual protest. 


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