Just before her appointment to the Reserve Bank, the Australian Industry Group CEO, Heather Ridout, launched into an extraordinary attack on the monarchy, denouncing it as "anachronistic".
And miraculously the politicians’ republic is – yes, you guessed it …inevitable. It will be a “mainstream view” – but she doesn’t say which of the many versions.
Mrs Ridout, once described by Crikey.com.au as “ a sort of 21st Cabinet member” of the Rudd cabinet, ended her address to the National Press Club as AIG CEO on 30 November with what she described as a "personal view").
…head of state..of course..
Although the Australian government has followed its predecessors and held out to all foreign governments and international organisations that the Governor- General is the Australian head of state she brings out that tired old chestnut from the ARM’s 1999 repertoire that “.. We really need to move on into the new century with an Australian head of state.”
There was a time when it seemed that every parrot in every pet shops across the country was endlessly screeching “ We want a head of state”. The Yes case said it not once but nine times. Then there was that embarrassing failure, the “mate for a head of state” campaign.”
Give it a break, Mrs Ridout. It didn’t work in 1999; it won’t work now.
Australians are not lying awake at night wondering who their head of state is. In fact before the republicans started using it, almost no one apart from diplomats and international lawyers, had heard of it.
….soap powder branding…
Reducing our nation to the equivalent of a soap powder she says that “.. we will not have a truly Australian brand until we allow ourselves to produce our own head of state.”
…Paul Keating again…
The authority for this commercial proposition is Paul Keating, rejected by the Australian people in the 1996 landslide.
It is not as Mr Keating recently said, that we must become a republic because of "geologic" changes in Asia, it is that we must cease being “the branch office of Empire”.
Mrs Ridout ignores the fact that long ago as 1926, the British conceded full independence to Australia if we did not immediately seek to give full legal effect to this. No one but the uninformed thinks Australia is not an independent nation, and has long enjoyed that status. After all we signed the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and were a founding member of the precursor of the UN, the League of Nations.
…tired old chestnut…
Conceding that the polls are "currently… against a republic” and The Queen enjoys a "strong following", Mrs Ridout resorts to another tired old chestnut …. it's inevitable.
Without any evidence whatsoever against the long-term trend of a significant decline in support for a republic, and against the very clear wish of the Australian people in the landslide defeat of the politicians’ republic in 1999, she declares magisterially without any evidence whatsoever that this will “emerge as the mainstream view.”
Having whetted the appetites of the elites, she does not bother to indicate what sort of republic will serve miraculously re-emerge and receive overwhelming support. Surely in delivering such a condemnation Mrs Ridout is under an obligation to the public to provide evidence of the failure of that institution, why the public will certainly endorse a substitute, and above all how that substitute will function within the constitutional system to ensure that there is an effective check and balance against the political institutions.
It is clear from the 1999 model, that the republican elites are essentially come from the political class, were determined to increase the power of that class. The proposal had nothing to do with improving the governments of Australia on making the politicians more accountable to the people. That of course is the last thing that the republican elites want.
One hopes that in her role at the Reserve Bank, Mrs Ridout demonstrates a greater reliance on evidence than her advice to the Australian people on ripping out from the constitutional system our oldest institution, and the one beyond politics.