February 12

Republic will remain an intellectual parlour game

One of the features of the political weekly Spectator Australia is the Diary, where someone is invited to summarise their week. ( I made an appearance last December)

In the latest Diary published on 5 February, it is Tony Abbott's turn to  talk about his week. The latter part of his  entry for 26 January is especially pertinent to this column :

…my Australia Day…. 

My Australia Day started with Geoff Heugill and Ky Hurst’s fundraising swim around Farm Cove in Sydney Harbour for the Black Dog Institute. Everyone is different but, for me, physical exertion is therapeutic.

I try to start every day with an hour’s exercise: a run, a bike ride or, if at home in Sydney, a surf off North Steyne. Margie and I have just bought a double kayak so paddling is now another (more family-friendly) option.

After the argy-bargy of Question Time, my sanity break is usually half an hour in the parliamentary gym or pool.

People often ask how I find the time but, for me at least, it seems to make the working hours more productive. It’s good that there are now so many mass participation events that not only raise money for good causes but promote the message that almost everyone can exercise. Margie and my daughters then joined me and the Manly Young Liberals at a Salvation Army barbecue at the Queenscliff Surf Club to raise money for flood relief.

About $3,000 was collected, mostly from selling sausage sandwiches (Woolworths donated the food) with a couple of large cheques from passers-by. There was much grumbling about the mooted flood levy but it didn’t stop people from being generous.

…the usual republican stunts….

It wouldn’t be Australia Day without various worthies demanding that our country become a republic and change the flag.

At the beach, nearly everyone under 20 was sporting a temporary tattoo of the flag that’s supposed to be such an anachronism.

At Warringah Council’s Australia Day citizenship ceremony (attended by Bronwyn Bishop, Mike Baird and other local MPs) there were no complaints about the flag or the Queen.

Our first homegrown republican was the Rev John Dunmore Lang, who published Freedom and Independence for the Golden Lands of Australia back in the 1850s.

Over the past century and a half, we’ve added national independence to the freedom that, even then, was thought to be every Briton’s birthright.

It was all achieved under the Crown, of course.

The quest for a republic will remain an intellectual parlour game long after this generation of constitutional antagonists has gone to the kingdom of heaven.


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