Until the 1999 referendum, republicans were quite open about changing our flag.
During the 1998 Constitutional Convention, they even put on an exhibition of some monstrosities they suggested be the new flag.
As a Keating government minister, the present Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, the Hon.Kim Beazley announced that our flag would be changed before the centenary of federation in 2001.
There was no suggestion that we might be allowed to vote on this.
Our right to vote on our flag came only when John Howard asked Parliament to amend the Flag Act.
Mr Beazley, no doubt behind clenched teeth, had to agree to that.
After all, how could you vote against the Australian people having a say about their own flag?
Wisely, John Howard ensured that the legislation requires that in any vote, the exisiting flag be one of the choices.
He was right to be suspicious of the republicans.
You really have to watch them.
Let me give an example of the way they operate.
The republican movement actually plans that when we vote on their proposal for a republic, the existing constitutional system will not be one of the choices.
In the second plebeiscite, you will have to choose between different republican models.
You won’t be bale to say:"No thanks-they are all awful. I’ll stick with what we have".
And the Senate Committee on this endorsed this sleight of hand, although the leading ARM politician, Liberal Senator Marise Payne dissented on this point for an entirely different reason.)
In this second plebiscite, we won’t be able to express a preference for the system which has worked so well since federation, and before that, in the states.
Can you imagine such duplicity?
Now the republican movement pretends the flag will stay after they get their republic.
But every so often one of them lets the cat out of the bag
Not so long ago an editorial in The Age newspaper pointed out that the flag would have to be changed after a republic was achieved-and everybody knew this.
Now, the Daily Telegraph of 3 November, 2005 has published this letter from republican Malcolm Andrews:
“The republicans among us want a new flag. Now is the perfect opportunity. Let’s turn Makybe Diva’s colours into our new ensign”
For the benefit of overseas readers, I should point out that Makybe Diva was the winner of this year’s Melbourne Cup. This is the country’s favourite horse race, one which is watched or listened to by the whole nation, even when the nation was threatened with invasion in the Second World War.
I suppose those colours would be better than the flag in the travelling exhibition the ARM unwisely supported a few years ago which featured these words – in full and without the asterisks:
” F*** OFF BACK TO FAGLAND”
Until next time,