November 29

Sydney Morning Herald report on Neville Bonner Oration

The report in The Sydney Morning Herald on the ACM National Conference was by Peter Martin the Herald’s Economics Correspondent, “Forget logic, supporting the royals is a matter of faith, says Abbott” (29/11).  This follows:

Support  for the monarchy need not be rational, the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, said while opening up a new line of attack in the debate over an Australian republic.

Supporting the monarchy was often a matter of faith, like religion or sport.Delivering the Neville Bonner Memorial lecture to the Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, he said that while there were good arguments for the monarchy, they were ''often beside the point''.

''The wellsprings of its appeal are instinctual as much as rational; more akin to loyalty to a team, solidarity within a family or faith in a church than they are to support for a policy. Deep down, they are the heart's reasons that reason doesn't know,'' he said.

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Reaction to the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton showed the monarchy was ''evolving and renewing – not as other institutions might through legislation, vote, or upheaval but through something as natural and as fitting as the marriage of an appealing man to an attractive woman''.

''This latest royal wedding is likely again to demonstrate people's response to ritual and tradition and their tendency to delight in princes and princesses,'' he said.

''If republicans could bring themselves to suspend hostilities, they might come to appreciate that what they currently find inexplicable or even offensive is not so for others and perhaps need not always be for them either.

''Professing delight that ''a wedding can trump argument'' he applauded the ''perennial gap between the mainstream and a commentariat that can't quite get an institution with its roots in an earlier time and a different way of thinking''.

''To many observers, the late senator Neville Bonner's was the most powerful speech at the 1998 convention on becoming a republic.''

Mr Abbott said what was most hurtful, Bonner declared, ''is that after all we have learnt together, after subjugating us and then freeing us, once again you are telling us that you know better. How dare you?''


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