This is the headline the editor of The Punch, David Penberthy chose to publish a piece he invited for The Queen’s Birthday (8/6) in The Punch, the new online newspaper from the Murdoch News Limited group. He was previously the editor of Sydney’s highest circulating newspaper, The Daily Telegraph,and was appointed to launch this new project.
My piece was published on 8 June with a video of The Queen’s celebrated speech on her 21st birthday. The Punch also published Mr. Pemberty's comment " Clapped out baby boomers have killed the republic", as well as a piece from Professor Warhurst for the republican movement, the title of which I will not repeat.
The text follows.
…the losers demand the spoils…
The losers in 1999 have the utter gall to demand we abandon our oldest public holiday celebrating our oldest institution, one central to our Westminster system.
On almost every Queen’s Birthday republicans usually rush into the media. This year they’re saying putting republicanism on the political agenda will help the nation recover from the recession. Without a scintilla of evidence, they say the growing interest in Anzac Day is because of republican sentiment.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone. In the nineties they were saying a republic would overcome unemployment, improve trade, free artistic talent, increase immigration, and enhance our standing in Asia. Just about the only argument advanced, which wasn’t ridiculous, was about having an Australian as Head of State. When Australians for Constitutional Monarchy demonstrated persuasively that we already had one, their case wilted.
The republicans ran a very well funded but confused referendum campaign. Almost all of the media campaigned for them, as did about two thirds of the politicians, and assorted celebrities. All the constitutional monarchists had was over 55,000 rank and file supporters. But in a landslide, the people, nationally, in every state and 72 per cent of electorates rejected the republicans preferred model.
…keep on voting until you get it right…
The republicans have never accepted this. They are saying, as one EU politician famously did : “The people must keep on voting until they get it right.”
Just think what would have happened if the republicans had won in 1999. The constitutional monarchists would not have been given a second chance. But if we had, we would be able to say precisely what we were proposing – a return to one of the world’s most successful constitutions.
…still no details….
You would have thought that after 1999 the republicans would have put their efforts into developing a better republican model. But they haven’t even tried. It’s as if they’re marching around chanting “ We want a republic…..but we haven’t the foggiest idea of what sort of republic we want.”
Instead of working out what they want, they arrogantly demand that most of the symbols which recall the essence of our nation – our “one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown” – be torn down. (The one exception is the flag which they say is no longer in their sights.)
It really is ironical that the republicans – the losers in 1999 – have the utter gall to insist the Queen’s Birthday go. It is after all our oldest public holiday honouring our oldest institution, one central to the working of our federal Westminster system.
….millions and millions wasted…
Millions and millions of dollars of taxpayers’ funds have been diverted from such matters as schools, transport, hospitals and water on trying to make Australia a republic. There have been seven such exercises.
You would have thought the republican politicians would have had the decency to call a halt after the referendum. But no, we’ve had an expensive Senate inquiry, then the 2020 Summit. In a gerrymander of which Robert Mugabe would be envious, they managed to record a ludicrous 98:1 vote there. with one abstention, in favour of some vague undefined republic. Currently there’s a Senate investigation into Bob Brown’s Plebiscite for an Australian Republic Bill.
Although completely divided on the fundamental issue – the form of politicians’ republic- the republicans are united on two points – having the taxpayers subsidise their campaign and on deceiving the people through the plebiscite.
…the blank cheque plebiscite….
Used often in revolutionary and Napoleonic France, a plebiscite is the political equivalent of a blank cheque. The people sign first and the government fills in the details later. Our Founding Fathers wouldn’t have a bar of such a rort. Instead they chose the Swiss referendum. There the details are on the table before the people vote, not after.
The reason for the plebiscite is that the republicans fear they’d lose another referendum. If they didn’t, we’d be having one this month. Reliable polling is going against them, especially among the young.
…'a' republic tells us nothing ….
The plan is to deceive the people with an initial plebiscite written by the spin doctors. This will be about “a” republic, which is pointless since the English word for “republic” is “commonwealth”.
Australia is already a republic, a crowned republic. In fact that is the name of ACM’s latest educational project, www.crownedrepublic.com.au
The republicans are planning some sort of politicians’ republic. But if the people really want more politicians, or politicians’ surrogates, let’s do it properly. Let’s have a model which works. Don’t try and graft a politicians’ republic onto a crowned republic.
After the first plebiscite the republicans are irreconcilably divided over whether to have a second plebiscite to choose between different republican models. Then there will have to be plebiscites in the states, and possibly the territories.
Apart from the expense of this deceitful exercise, the worst thing is that it is grossly irresponsible. It invites a vote of no confidence in one of the world’s most successful constitutions. If it were passed it would be followed by years of constitutional instability without any guarantee that the people will accept what is finally proposed when they see the details.
The republicans need to think again. The need to respect the people’s decision and work out precisely what they want. Then they only have to persuade the people that what they are proposing is, in the words of our great Founding Fathers, is “desirable, irresistible and inevitable.”