November 13

Republicans unhpapy with the republican movement

The reaction to Ros Winterton’s call (10/11) in The Australian for politicians to denounce the people’s lack of interest in change to a politicians’ republic was hardly encouraging – for the republican movement.


The piece had been published before on two republican sites.  Now The Australian has a rule against publishing material previously published elsewhere, unless this is revealed and readers so advised.

Apart from the apparent breach of The Australian's rules, we can assume that the piece has the approval of the ARM high command, and that they probably assured or encouraged its republication in The Australian. 

…readers including republicans disagree…

Readers weren’t at all taken in by the argument the 1999 republic would have produced a utopia, according to a block of letters published in The Australian the next day.

Roslyn Phillips of Tea Tree Gully, SA asked why had Rosalind Winterton waited 11 long years before revealing that a "Yes" victory in the republic referendum would have led to world peace?

Malcolm Turnbull  must be kicking himself for not thinking of this argument in 1999.

Republican Rod Cruice of Dayboro, Qld  denied that there is a connection between public policies on climate change and the Iraq War and our monarchical status.

If there is a connection,  then please explain why the monarch-free American republic has the same policies on these matters as us.

Norman Moore, of Bangalow, NSW  was intrigued by the arguments put forward by republicans as to why the 1999 referendum failed, along with the fabulous benefits which will accrue once we achieve that wonderful state.

…and the president?…

He continued:

The one essential they never address is the lack of agreement within their own camp of just exactly what form the republic will take.

Perhaps if a real discussion occurred about the sort of president we might expect, and about the powers and limitations of the office, along with its relationship to our current polity, we might regain our lost zeal for a republic.

…comment on comments on the original comment…

The next day (12/11) the generous letters editor gave Ms. Winterton  the unusual luxury of being allowed to comment in the letters column to letters commenting on her comment.She conceded the link she had made between republicanism and climate change was “clumsy.” 

What she was trying to say was that “if we were braver in one area, we may be braver in others.”

That is hardly a withdrawal of the proposition that a republic will, for example, cure the common cold.

The republicans do not seem to have advanced from the ludicrous advantages they set out for a republic in 1999, improving unemployment, unleashing artists, improving trade attracting more immigrants, stopping Australians being taken for Britons overseas etc.

…and the president?…  

George Freuden of Bondi NSW said he was against a republic when Malcolm Turnbull proposed it, mainly because of the quality of the people we tend to vote for.

We make an assumption that a good sportsman must also be good at everything else, so we could have, say, Ricky Ponting as head of state.I also shudder to think that we could elect a pompous, empty poseur like Kevin Rudd or one of the ubiquitous union leaders, who collectively represent fewer than 14 per cent of the workforce. No, please let us stick with the status quo.

To which Ms.Winterton replied  lamely “ choosing the right leader is crucial but I believe it's possible.”

But Ms. Winterton, you also believe a republic would have meant Australia led the world in solving global warming, or as you say, climate change.

…Good governance? I never thought about that. What a great idea…

Jason Foster, of Windsor, Victoria made an excellent case, concedes Ms. Winterton. He wrote:

How can it be otherwise, when republicans are so incapable of making a good case for constitutional change?

And how can they make a good case when their understanding of republicanism is so shallow?Contrary to what most self-proclaimed republicans seem to think, republicanism is not just about having a citizen as head-of-state for the sake of a symbolic national unity.

Its central concern is how to ensure that government serves the common good.

Some republics never even had a head of state.Winterton rightly observes that monarchism endorses the anachronistic principle of leadership by birth rather than merit, but her notion that removing the monarchy would improve public policy is doubtful.

Until republicans can offer a model that will improve government accountability and performance, most Australians will continue to regard republicanism as a minor issue at best.

Ms. Winterton explained the total disinterest in the republican movement (the 1999 republicans who argued for a No vote were different) in good governance, a matter frequently mentioned here.  

It's true, our basic concern should be about good government, and I believe, that in the excitement about entertaining the idea of a republic, not enough attention was paid to this. If we are ever going to become a republic, Australians must feel that this issue is central.

….what is to be done?…..

The first step, Ms. Winterton, is to tell the people just what you are proposing in relation to the Constitution and the Flag.


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