On 8 May, 2007 in a press release about the Governor-designate of South Australia, a spokesman and former leader of the republican movement made a gratuitous, factually incorrect and ill-considered attack on the Governor-General, Major General Michael Jeffery.
(Apparently Chairperson Ted O’Brien, the current movement’s leader, has been gagged. You see, he’s an endorsed Liberal candidate in the coming Federal election, and, embarrassingly, the Labor Party has been out-sourcing its constitutional policy to his movement. In fact, Labor hasn’t had much luck with republican chairpersons, as they call their leaders. Mr. Turnbull became a leading Liberal politician; Mr Barns tried that but lost his pre-selection. Mr. Rudd, the Labor Leader of HM’s Australian Opposition, may wish to reconsider this.)
The republican spokesman, Professor Warhurst, said: "The Governor General has consistently and rudely refused to even meet representatives of the Australian Republican Movement, including successive ARM Chairpersons, although republicans make up a majority of Australians".
Consistently perhaps, but rudely? Professor Warhurst, who is a professor of politics, surely understands the convention that Governors-General do not become involved in political issues. And a referendum to change the constitution is a political issue par excellence.
So the Governor-General has not been rude – the republicans have. The Governor-General should not receive representatives of political parties or political movements – he has nothing he can say to them, and meeting them could be construed as a political intervention. The fact of course is that the republicans only want to go to Yarralumla to embarrass the Governor-General by crowing to the media afterwards about how sympathetic he was. They can say no more to the Governor-General than Paul Keating did when he told foreign governments about his dreams to change the Australian constitution and our flag. They must have wondered.
If the landslide defeat in every State and 72% of electorates in 1999 does not persuade him, the latest polls show that even if asked to support some vague pie –in-the –sky republic, support for that is well below 50%.
In the same statement, the republican movement calls on governors to announce their support for a republic and for governments to choose republicans. We thought that republican politicians had become wary of appointing republican governors after Richard Butler’s truncated term in Tasmania.
In any event, this republican outburst demonstrates to Australians that the republican movement’s promise that presidents and governors would be non partisan is totally untrue.
The republicans have now admitted that they plan to foist on the nation presidents and governors who are partisan, divisive, openly political, and who are prepared to treat their oaths of office, even when sworn on the Bible, as without meaning.
Robespierre, ultimately executed by those remaining republican allies he had not killed, would have approved.