February 29


Max Walsh, writing in The Bulletin on 18 February, 2004 says that Mark Latham, the new ALP Leader of the Opposition thinks he has the dream wedge issue against the Coalition-a republic. We would hope that no politician would use the Constitution as a political football. So we sent the following letter to the editor: A responsible leader would surely only propose a change to one of the world's most successful constitutions if this were intended to improve it. It is disturbing then to read (Max Walsh , 18 February) that the reason for Mr Latham' s push for a republic is that he sees this as the ideal wedge issue against the Coalition. Surely after the landslide defeat he suffered in his own electorate on this issue in 1999, Mr Latham should have realized along with Malcolm Turnbull that Australians are just not interested in politicians playing around with either their Constitution or their flag. As for popular election being the winner, he might consider the warning of republican Professor Greg Craven. This is that putting up this option will alienate all of the conservative republicans and ensure that we may look forward not only to the reign of Charles III, but also William V. That was our letter. Apparently Mr Latham dropped any reference to a republic from his keynote speech at the recent National conference of the ALP, although it was in the draft. Perhaps wiser heads will prevail. But if they do not, surely those Coalition politicians who fell for this wedge issue inserted into politics by Paul Keating would not repeat their error, would they?


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