It has been announced – in London – that another referendum to turn Australian into a republic is to be held within three years, probably in 2010. The shock announcement was made on behalf of the Leader of HM’s Loyal Australian Opposition, Mr. Kevin Rudd.
Mr.Rudd was described in the announcement not only as a republican, but for the first time, as a “staunch republican.” (We are not sure whether this is a more radical form of republican than the hitherto preferred affectation, the “passionate “ republican. We are also unaware when Mr. Rudd’s republicanism was in fact staunched, but we suspect it was later than the Liberal Deputy Leader Mr. Costello’s adoption of republicanism, probably as some form of brand differentiation from the Prime Minister he has been so keen to succeed.)
In a dramatic reversion to the “cultural cringe,” Mr Rudd informed neither the Australian people nor the Australian media first, but chose to make the announcement in the respected London newspaper, The Daily Telegraph.
The report, by Nicholas Squires, said the “full weight” of the Rudd government will be thrown behind the issue. The thought of the combined weight of a phalanx of former union officials, party apparatchiks, and a retired rock singer all led by a “multi-millionaire who has spent almost his entire workiing life on the public payroll,” as The Australian put it on 6 September 2007, being “thrown” at our Constitution should be quite horrible. The report also says that “millions of pounds” in political advertising were likely to be spent to persuade Australians of the merits of becoming a republic. Well, millions and millions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money have already been spent on this. And the republicans had most of the media, most of the politicians and hordes of celebrities last time, and look where it got them.
If the referendum, which we can assure Mr. Rudd will be strongly opposed, is to be held in 2010, we assume that it is being planned to coincide with the next federal election. If so, it will distract the public from the issues in the election. At this time it is difficult to tell whether a Rudd government, if one is elected this year, would or would not wish for such a distraction.
Although the report says Mr. Rudd has drawn up plans to achieve some sort of unknown republic, he has not yet informed Australians what those plans are and what sort of republic he is proposing. Nor has Mr Costello, whom the Prime Minister predicts will succeed him if the Coalition wins in the coming federal election likely to be held this year. As we reported in this column on 22 September, 2007, Mr Costello says Australia will “evolve in the direction, and will evolve in that direction when you have more agreement in relation to the method of selecting a president. Obviously, I want to be part of that."
The politicians seem determined to make a republic an issue in the election. On Channel 10’s “Meet the Press” on 23 September 2007 Labor’s shadow health minister Nicola Roxon declared that “the republic will be an issue that we will pursue passionately.” The pursuit may be “passionate”, but Ms. Roxon did not say what sort of republic she meant. There was probably no need. As we reported in this column on 9 June 2006, Ms. Roxon seems to prefer the constitution of East Timor to ours.
She does not think much of older Australians and is informed about our youth. She said, and, remember, she aspires to be a Minister of the Crown: "There are no new monarchists being born. If we bide our time they will all die off… I still think the biggest risk is Prince William meeting someone in an Australian pub."(See this column on 14 March 2006)
And it is sometimes said we get the politicians we deserve. Is that be so, what have we been doing?