Republicans Ray Martin and Malcolm Turnbull were roundly told they ought to grow up by that éminence grise among Australian editors, Ian Moore. (Spectator Australia, 30 January.) The magazine cover says both are snobs. Mr. Moore adds they both have a complete inability to understand the Australian people.
Mr. Moore’s “memo to the television celebrity and failed Liberal leader” is to the pont. “ We’re not a colonial relic.”
This month Ray Martin came out as a most aggressive flag changer and Malcolm Turnbull spectacularly renewed and upgraded his push for a republic in a media blitz not only in Australia but inexplicably also in the United Kingdom. ( The link to the report on Ray Martin now has embedded the video of the Channel 7 report in which ACM argued for the retention of the flag)
When he entered Parliament Malcolm Turnbull renounced his previous flirtation with flag changing, and like any convert, became passionate about the Australian flag. He also said that a republic should not be on the agenda during the present reign, and not until there was a consensus on the model and opposition was minimal.
But not only has he now renewed his republican passion, he has renounced his once rock solid opposition to the president of an Australian republic being elected by the people.
That opposition had led the small “direct-elect” republicans at the 1998 Constitutional Convention to threaten a walkout, a potential embarrassment which was allayed by the timely mediation of the constitutional monarchist leader, Lloyd Waddy.
(Incidentally, if direct election is so popular with the people, why did they elect so few such delegates in 1998? On their voting figures they were awarded only two seats on the No committee to ACM’s eight. And why did the only poll on this in recent years, the Morgan Poll, show such low support for direct election, especially among young people?)
Mr. Turnbull also endorsed a threefold plebiscite on the issue. (ACM has long denounced this as an irresponsible process. This is because it is devised to remove confidence in the constitution, thus leading to a period of constitutional instability without any guarantee of change.)
Although an inévitabliste*, Mr. Moore is outraged by Mr. Martin’s condescending dismissal of our past, particular his call for Australians to grow up.
As for Malcolm Turnbull, Mr. Moore points out that just as in 1999, he fails to articulate why change would be for the better. The only reason he gives is to get rid of the monarch because she also happens to be Britain’s.
If that were put to the people, we confidently predict it would attract significantly fewer votes than in 1999, where the republicans Mr. Turnbull led were, as Mr. Moore vividly recalls, “badly defeated”.
*[This word, we must admit, does not actually exist in French- yet. Based on the word 'inévitable', we have created it to describe supporters of the doctrine that Australia must become some sort of unknown politicians' republic. A search in Google française only brings up references to stories on this site.
We may in due course be responsible for adding a new word to both languages. We fear however that few of us will actually see its approval by the Académie française, even although it is French based. The eighth edition of its French dictionary was completed in 1935, and the first of about four volumes of the ninth only appeared in 1992. The second volume appeared in 2000, in which our word would have been located. We must therefore await the tenth edition]