…Reverend Professor’s surprise Easter message…
We did not expect to be posting a column on Easter Day.
Hitherto, republicans limited their stunts on public holidays to Australia Day and The Queen’s Birthday.
It now appears that the Christian Holy Days, even the holiest in the calendar, are no longer to be free from republican demands, proposals and endless chatter.
And this one comes surprisingly from a clergyman described by the ABC as “one of the high profile delegates” appointed to the Commonwealth Government's 2020 Summit in April, the Reverend Professor Michael Tate.
In his Easter message, the Reverend Professor calls on the Prime Minister to surrender his “power” to appoint the Governor-General to the Speaker and the President of the Senate.
Of course the Prime Minister has no such power. Normally of course, such recommendations are accepted, but precedents indicate that The Queen should not be assumed to be a mere rubber stamp.
The Reverend Professor should know this. He is, after all, no stranger to the workings of government and to the Australian Crown.
From 1977 to 1993, before he was ordained, he was Senator Tate, a Senator for Tasmania. From 1987 to 1993 he was commissioned as one of Her Majesty’s Ministers of State for the Commonwealth. As Senator and as Minister he would have several times sworn allegiance to Her Majesty on the Holy Bible – we assume the future priest preferred not to affirm. From 1993 he was Her Australian Majesty’s Ambassador to two other monarchs, Her Majesty, The Queen of the Netherlands and His Holiness, The Pope.
The Reverend Professor curiously chose Easter Day 23 March 2008 to declare on ABC News that he believes “we should move to a republican system.”
As far as we can see, only the ABC seems to have decided his intervention was newsworthy.
Repeating the current republican mantra, he says he doesn’t think this will happen “until the Queen either abdicates or dies.”
“But ‘we’ need to be ready,” he says, without telling us who ‘we’ are. They are certainly not the majority who do not want a republic, indeed the overwhelming majority who are not interested in the issue.
Nevertheless, he proposes an “interim measure.”
Following the current republican fashion of complete inability to reveal what they want, he does not or cannot explain to what his measure is interim.
Nor does he explain why the long established and highly successful convention of the Prime Minister advising The Queen should be changed.
In particular he does not mention the highly relevant fact that when we adopted the Westminster system, we failed to provide the guarantees of the independence of the Speaker which apply in the Mother of Parliaments.
Nor does he explain why the presiding officers should, contrary to constitutional practice take on what is a ministerial function.
More importantly he clearly does not accept that the people’s very clear rejection nationally, in all states and 72% of electorates of the republicans’ preferred model was final.
He gives no reasons why more money should be diverted from hospitals water and welfare into an issue in which the people, overwhelmingly, are just not interested.
And as Thomas Flynn, ACM’s young Executive Director says, if the people had voted yes in 1993, can anyone imagine the nation would be asked to vote on it again?
This is clearly no more than a half baked proposal to ensure a vague undefined republic can be pushed at the Summit.
The reverend professor has however provided further evidence to what has emerged so far, that the Summit is to discuss constitutional change to a republic, and that only republican views are welcome.
As we concluded on 20 March, 2008 (“Summit to rule on republic: only one view to be permitted?”), when it comes to diversity of views, the Summit looks as if it will resemble a meeting of the Supreme Soviet.
It also looks as if it will be chosen the same way.
It will no doubt be just as useful.