“I readily admit that if the question of our nation becoming a republic were put to the Australian people this weekend, it would unfortunately be defeated. It would be defeated because, in recent times, we have not presented our case for reform,” admits Matt Thistlethwaite. A Senator for New South Wales, he was speaking on the adjournment debate in the Senate on. 15 March 2012.
Senator Thistlethwaite is emerging as the republican flag bearer among Canberra’s politicians. He opened his speech by congratulating David Morris, the latest national director of the Australian Republican Movement. A benefactor has endowed the republican movement with a generous gift on $100,00 per annum over three years, which has apparently been earmarked to fill a position which had fallen vacant. Mr. Morris is a former diplomat, senior political adviser, senior public servant and, most recently, the government relations director at the University of Sydney.
…ARM threat to campaign at Diamond Jubilee…
Described as the “newly crowned head” of the ARM, Mr. Morris says he will “ramp up’ a campaign for “full national independence” during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
We think this unlikely.Not unless the Republicans are going to repeat what happened on one occasion when The Queen was driven from Canberra airport to Yarralumla. They organised a demonstration on the road, but they were far more journalists than republican demonstrators. Anyone in the royal car would have been forgiven for thinking they were part of a very small group welcoming the monarch .
Mr. Morris' threat recalls that of the ARM’s Professor Warhurst’s last year to campaign during the Royal Wedding, which of course did not occur.
On ABC television on 17 November 2010 on the announcement of the Royal Wedding, Professor Warhurst, speaking for the ARM, referred to a bill for a plebiscite to be reintroduced by Greens leader, Dr. Bob Brown and added:
ARM: “We look forward to linking the coming wedding of Kate and William with the argument for a republic.”
ABC: “Would that be an uncomfortable coincidence as far as you are concerned”
ARM:” No, we say: Bring it on. We look forward to it. “
ABC: “ You can’t go against a Royal Wedding”
ARM: ” No, my word we can because the benefit of a Royal Wedding is, it brings attention to the debate about Australia's national identity and the fact that 20 or 30 years time William will become King of Australia unless Australia becomes a republic.
ARM:” It will be in fact an ideal time and attention is on a matrimonial event to have a political and constitutional debate in Australia. And that's how it should be.”
Neophyte republicans usually argue that converting to some politicians’ republic is necessary for Australia to be independent. They later realise that it is beyond doubt that Australia is a fully independent nation.
…head of state…
Both Mr. Morris and Senator Thistlethwaite predictably advance the argument that only with a republican we have an Australian as head of state. This was argued nine times in the official Yes case which went to every elector in the 1999 referendum. It is not at all surprising that is being argued now and will be argued if they were to be another vote. Australians for Constitutional Monarchy alone has been consistent in its argument since the nineties that Australia already has an Australian as head of state. There are very sound legal arguments which lead to this conclusion.
Senator Thistlethwaite even relied on a rather tired and misplaced emotional argument that as the father of two young daughters, he "despairs that they cannot aspire to be our nation's head of state". Of course they can, but someone who aspires as a child to be our head of state is probably not the sort of person we would want. Our heads of state have been persons who have made some significant contribution to our country, and are invited to become a head of state, and who accept that as a matter of duty and service rather than ambition. The last thing Australian needs her ambitious young politicians plotting and planning to become our head of state.
…chaired republican debate..
It may interest readers to recall that Mr Thistlethwaite, then General Secretary of the NSW Labor Party very competently and courteously chaired a debate between Professor George Williams and myself “Forward the republic” at the Trades Hall on 23 November, 2009.
…abolish the Queen’s Birthday…
Senator Thistlethwaite also reminded the Senate of something we thought he should best forget. This was his campaign to abolish all rather rename the oldest public holiday in this country, the Queen's Birthday. But he can't tell us what new name he is proposing. This is a typical Republican approach. Shred the flag, abolish the Queen's Birthday holiday, removed the crown from the constitution, but don't revealed to the people what is to take their place. This strategy of asking the Australian people to trust the republican politicians with these important questions will just not work.