April 7

Prime Minister still reluctant …but versatile

 “Those who did not live… before the Republic will never be able to know the sweetness of life."

The Prime Minster remains “cool” on a republic, reports Michelle Grattan in The Age on  7 April, 2008.

In response to persistent questioning in a BBC interview the day before an audience with the Queen, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has declined to say when the question would be put on the government’s agenda.

"I am sure we will get to it in due season." he said.Ms. Grattan reports that when Prime Minister was asked whether he would be disappointed if he ended his term in office without Australia becoming a republic, he said his party had long been committed to that outcome.

He stressed that the Queen was respected throughout Australia.

Asked whether the moment for Australia to move would be when Prince Charles or Prince William became king, he said:

 "A nice try in terms of the timeline, but I am not going to deliver one to you.  I am sure Australians will begin talking about this and debating it as time goes by — that's normal and natural."

…prince of diplomats…

This confirms our view that the Prime Minister is a reluctant republican. He is encouraged in this by polling and focus group intelligence which is not auspicious for change. He has to give lip service to the party platform.

The Prime Minister is above all a diplomat. I wonder whether he admires the example of the Prince of Diplomats, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, who demonstrated an extraordinary versatility as each of France’s constitutional systems was overthrown.

He served, in succession,  King Louis XVI,  the various revolutionary regimes, the Emperor Napoleon I, King Louis XVIII and King Louis-Philippe.

To paraphrase Talleyrand, perhaps Mr. Rudd will lament, if we were ever to become a republic, "Those who did not live before the Republic will never be able to know the sweetness of life."[i]

He will not be saying that. The republican movement has gone backwards in support and influence, compounded by their inability even to identify what sort of change they want.

Yet they demand unlimited funds be diverted from schools, hospitals and water into their folly.

Eventually, of course, reality will prevail.  Even the bien pensant will one day accept that  a republic is not inevitable.   

[i] Talleyrand actually wrote  "Celui qui n'a pas vécu au dix-huitième siècle avant la Révolution ne connaît pas la douceur de vivre" ("Those who did not live in the eighteenth century before the Revolution will never be able to know the sweetness of life"): Mémoires du Prince de Talleyrand: La Confession de Talleyrand, V. 1-5 Chapter: La jeunesse – Le cercle de Madame du Barry.


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