May 1

The constitutional debate


4 May, 2001


This is the first of a series of occasional columns.  I welcome this opportunity to comment on the continuing debate, as I see it from an ACM perspective.

Australians clearly prefer the existing constitution over the alternative – that was the clear message from the 1999 referendum when, it should be stressed,  republicans put up the best model.  Of course, the republican movement tries to put a different picture on that.  In effect they claim that when the people said "No" they really meant "Yes".

Apart from this spin, another tactic is what is best described as "creeping republicanism".  If you can’t get a republic, attach and remove the symbols.
Thus we see attempts to change the coinage, the bank notes,the coats of arms and the flag.  Of course the Olympics ensured that republicans would retreat on the flag, at least for the time being.
Sydneysiders will note however that the Town Hall hardly even uses the national flag in all the banners they commission  regularly for various events.

So we had to have a controversy about the 50 cent coin commemorating the life of Sir Donald Bradman.  Republicans were up in arms about… the platypus!  As I reminded one radio presenter, when another country became a republic, the Prime Minister put his wife’s image on the coins to replace the Queen, who is on our
coins as a non-political symbol.

All this indicates what we well know – the republicans still won’t do the "hard  yards" and produce republican model which is as good as the present constitution.

I was invited recently to write a review of Malcolm Turnbull’s book Fighting for the Republic".  I said to the editor – "You do know my views on the republic". 
He said "yes, we are also asking a republican to review Kerry’s book."

I shall close with my review, which will appear below and on our site.

David Flint


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