It was a sad feature of the French revolution that onetime republican allies against the ancient regime soon fell out and were at one another's throats, literally. In each round of bitter disputation, the winners used the guillotine against the losers, gradually reducing their circle, until the most extreme republican, Robespierre himself was executed. In the meantime the unfortunate nation had to put up with a succession of republican models, each more grandiose, utopian and unworkable than the last. This continued until Napoleon imposed his first empire on them, leading them into a series of wars to conquer Europe if not the world, and in the meantime putting his mediocre relatives on vacant thrones. The result, as we know was defeat and exile. Fortunately he fell, or rather fled into the hands of the English who treated him with honour even after his escape from Elba. Incidentally, I believe that if you actually visit Waterloo, and knew little about history, you would come away with the clear impression that Napoleon was the victor! While Australian republicans are almost as prolific as the French revolutionaries in churning out unworkable constitutional models, they are of course commendably more restrained in their internecine disputes. Rather than the guillotine they have been known to threaten the defamation court, which some of those unfortunate enough to have experienced its rigours say is infinitely more unpleasant. As we know, an exasperated and damaged Mr Turnbull, formerly leader of the Australian Republican Movement recently threatened such a fate on Mr Mark Latham. The process servers had great difficulty in serving Mr Latham, even though they lay in wait in a celebrated Canberra bar. Perhaps they should have disguised themselves a taxi drivers and loitered out side his constituency office. But when Mr Latham rose to the exalted position of Leader of Her Majesty 's Australian Opposition- to everyone 's surprise including his own his minders no doubt told him that neither his original defamation nor the spectacle of avoiding service was. :'as they say, a good look. So he did what he should have done months before, apologised. And I wonderjust who paid Mr Turnbull's by then substantial costs? And now it is the turn of others. Mr Greg Barns, former Campaign Director and then Chair of the ARM some time ago told His Eminence Cardinal Pell that he was not welcome in Sydney. On what authority he issued this dictat was not clear. Did Mr Barns think that His Holiness The Pope should have first consulted the ARM? And in any event Mr Barns intervention, public as it was ,seemed most unfriendly , Mr Barns gave His Eminence no credit for the courtesy he had shown them in agreeing to Mr Turnbull 's request that he move the approval of the Arm's model at the Constitutional
Convention in 1998. You would have thought this act of generosity on the Cardinal's part would have least had earned him the right to be received courteously bythe ARM who must think Sydney is their city (This was before Lucy Turnbull received that monarchical title, Lord Mayor of Sydney)
Now Mr Barns has turned his literary guns on Mr Mark Latham who, he says, is nothing more than a weaker version of John Howard. There will be no real choice at the election, he says. Mr Barns obviously is not swayed at all by Mr Latham's espousal of some sort of republic-he has not told us yet precisely which one. Greg Barn's piece dismissing Mr Latham as the alternative Prime Minister can be found at : http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?Article=1202 It is not the first time that republicans have fallen out among themselves, and you may be assured, it will not be the last.