The Australian has published a republican threat that if the Australian people do not agree to some politicians’ republic – soon – “someone else“ will do it for us.
This can only mean a foreign power or a coup d’état. Given the loyalty of the Army, Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force and their long standing tradition of respect for the constitution, this republican must be referring to an intervention by some foreign power.
Australia’s second republican movement was in fact dedicated to such a result. They pretended that the Australian people would themselves adopt a People’s or Soviet republic which would then introduce a socialist utopia.
The sad reality is that on the East European experience, this could only be achieved through a military conquest. No country has ever freely chosen such a fate.
The suggestion of this being achieved in these days in Australia is surely ridiculous – at least, I hope that it is.
But it shows you the attitude of some republicans. If you don’t agree with them, their republic will be imposed. In the nineties there was a serious attempt to close off the debate by the use of ridicule and the denial of equal access to the media.
There have even been suggestions in the past that the British Parliament should impose a politicians’ republic on us, forgetting that the British had long given up any vestigial legislative power over Australia.
There is a warning in all of this. It is that the politicians’ republic which they wish to impose on us will in no way improve our democracy and may well lead to its diminution.
So beware of republicans when they threaten you, ridicule you and attempt to close off the debate.
The republican threat followed this letter of mine in The Australian on 30 January concerning a proposal by a former leading adviser to Prime Minister Rudd, Troy Bramston, for the purging of all of our national symbols.
.…Flag and constitution just fine thanks… (the headline in The Australian)
Not only does Troy Bramston not understand that our flag was made official under the royal prerogative in 1903, he calls for a purge of all our national symbols (“Let’s use our national day to set national goals and make our country stronger”, 28-29/1).
His proposal that the PM do a state of the union address like the US president to set national policy goals for the year ahead and articulate a unifying vision for the nation will make most Australians laugh at its naivety.
It is typical of too many “reformers” that they have little appreciation of the considerable differences between a politicians’ republic like the US and our crowned republic.
So you get their oft-repeated criticism that our constitution doesn’t even mention the prime minister. Why should it? It would only make some of them more obsessed about their role and function.
Unlike the governor-general the PM is not above politics. She is only the first among equals. If she loses her majority she is out the door. Unlike the president, who goes to congress like the monarch he is, she must answer every sitting day to the house.
The Australian published the following reply from Neville Wright of Kilcunda, Victoria on 31 January:
David Flint (Letters, 30/1), the royal prerogative is what we want to get rid of. This nation will not progress until we rid ourselves of an overlord.
Sure we will make mistakes, but they will be our mistakes and not somebody else’s. Our current cozy existence will only be changed by us taking a bold step, or having someone else taking it for us, take your pick.
Sitting on our hands will only make the latter more certain.