October 30

Republic dead, admits leading republican newspaper

The republic is dead, and long live The Queen, declares Fairfax Political Correspondent Stefanie Peatling in ”Queen of hearts is trumps” in the Sun-Herald on 30  October , 2011.  

So let's stop wasting more taxpayers money and politicians' time on this folly, a folly  which has occupied two decades of the nation's time.

Ms. Peatling says the changes in the rules of succession make the monarchy seem up to date while entrenching it.  She thinks that while the Labor Party is still technically republican, they will do no more than state their support for it.  (Let's not forget that the greatest leaders of the Labour Party were all constitutional monarchists.)

Ms Peatling is not known for her monarchist views, while  the Fairfax newspapers have become the standard  bearers of republicanism since The Australian changed its editor after the referendum – but not because of it.

Ms. Peatling believes that republican change is off the cards for a generation.

 Readers may recall that when Prince William was arriving some notable republicans abandoned republicanism. More are deserting the sinking ship now.  Labor's eminence grise, Graham Richardson, has, in his own words, surrendered.  While reaffirming her eternal republicanism, the noted columnist Michelle Grattan has conceded that the issue seemed more important  in the 90s than it probably was.


….two decades of debate…


The point is that the Australian nation has spent two decades on the debate over whether we should become a politicians’ republic.  

The official line today is that it would be inappropriate and  rude to hold a referendum during the present reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

This has nothing to do with courtesy or respect for The Queen.  Their polling and focus groups are warning the politicians two things.

First, a referendum would be a dismal failure whichever of the two models is chosen. 

Second, the people are a wake-up to the time wasted on this folly.  There have been a dozen enquiries and votes on this issue, seven since the people overwhelmingly rejected it in 1999.  Millions of dollars have been taken out of defence, pensions, infrastructure and all sorts of things the government ought to be involved in just to pay for this folly.  

And have no doubt, if this matter is put back on the agenda, ACM will mount a massive campaign to remind  the people of this scandalous waste of time and money.

Taxpayers' hard earned money has been used  for the benefit of a small and declining clique  who cannot even tell the people what precisely they are proposing.

What the politicians now know, which they didn't realise in 1999 when they said gleefully jumped on the republican bandwagon, is that the people would come down very hard on any politicians that revive it That's why the politicians are ignoring the calls of the now irrelevant republican movement to put on a series of plebiscites and referendums. 

 (There is one exception to this and that is the Greens party under Dr Brown.  As a minority party they don't have to worry about the result.  Just what the constitutional monarchy has to do with environmentalism is not clear; some of the leading members of the Royal family had been outstanding environmentalists – the Duke of Edinburgh with the World Wildlife Fund and now Prince Charles.)


….taxes wasted, time lost…

 The republicans were offered a convention where they had carte blanche to come up with the model they wanted.  They did.  It just scraped under getting a majority of votes, so John Howard put it to the people to the overwhelming applause of the Republicans, the politicians and the media. 

The republicans, who overwhelmingly dominated both Houses of Parliament, approved the question. After a campaign by most politicians, almost all of the print and television media, the Labor Party, and  the ACTU, with the Liberal party administration neutral, and with Malcolm Turnbull generously funding the ARM, the people voted.

Apart from the public funds, ACM had a minimal budget but also had 50,000 supporters out in the field ranged in each of the electorates.  Fortunately we had enough money to have a paid director nationally and in each of the states and we could afford some radio advertising – but not the television advertising which the ARM had.  The only television advertisements for the No case came from the public funds which were so skilfully managed by Kerry Jones.

…memories are made of this… 

I remember speaking to the BBC on the balcony of the Opera House overlooking Sydney Harbour early in  the evening of the vote.

I had just come from Darling Harbour where ACM were celebrating.  We would normally have gone to the Town Hall but the republicans there would not allow us to use it.

 For the first time in my life, I used a water taxi to speed across the harbour. When I told the BBC that it looked like a landslide – a landslide No, the ARM’s representative did what is called in films, a "double-take".  

The republicans were just beginning their generously funded victory celebration party in the forecourt of the Opera House.  The BBC was carrying the interview live across the World Service.  I wonder if that was the first time viewers realised that the Australia was not about to become a republic.

The point is of course that Australia is never going to become a politicians’ republic.  At least as long as the Australians maintain that “good constitutional sense” which the late Richard McGarvie extolled and which has ensured that Australia remains one of the world's oldest and most stable democracies.



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