“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:A time to be born, and a time to die… A time to get, and a time to lose…"
As the results of the 1999 referendum came in, Malcolm Turnbull said that if John Howard were to be remembered for anything, it would be as the man who “broke the heart of the nation”. But on the morning after, as I gazed across Bondi Beach, I could only see what was typical of any Australian Sunday morning, a nation at play, a nation at peace with itself. And so it was yesterday morning.
I was reminded of an evening in Paris in 1979, watching the news on television. It showed Prime Minister James Callaghan leaving No 10 before the votes were fully counted to offer his resignation to The Queen. Soon after Mrs. Margaret Thatcher was called to the Palace, kissed hands and was driven to Downing Street. The French presenter, astounded about the orderly transfer of power, the courtesy and propriety, said "Messieurs les anglais, I salute you.” We should never forget that we are also one of the few countries where transfers of power are peaceful, orderly and smooth.
That is the beauty of our system, which requires that at its centre be an institution above politics, the Australian Crown.
Mr Howard will remain caretaker Prime Minister as long as Mr Rudd wishes. Mr Rudd intends to wait until he is ready to name the ministry sworn. Then Mr Howard will formally resign to the Governor-General, who will then invite Mr. Rudd to form a government. Mr Rudd will be sworn in as Her Majesty’s 26th Australian Prime Minister. We wish him well, and thank Mr Howard for his service to the nation and in particular for his loyalty to the Crown, and support for the Australian constitutional system and the Flag.
ACM, we stress, is a non-political, non partisan association. Its mission is no more than “to preserve, to protect and to defend our heritage: the Australian constitutional system, the role of the Crown in it and our Flag.” Our policy in an election is to inform supporters and the public of the views of candidates on matters pertaining to our mission. For this purpose we have established ELECTION WATCH as a standing part of our website.
As to the republican issue, Mr. Rudd indicated just before the election that a republican referendum will not be called in his first term.
As we reported here on 25 November 2007, Mr. Rudd has indicated that a referendum on Aboriginal reconciliation, a separate Aboriginal treaty and a republican referendum would not occur in the first term of a Rudd government, if at all. We note with fascination the rider, “if at all.” We hope that it encompasses the republican referendum.
The Australian Republican Movement said it was pleased that a prime minister who supported a republic had been elected, according to a report in The Tehran Times of 26 November, 2007. (We found this first in this Iranian newspaper, then later in The Age.)
Under the heading “World leaders welcome Australia's new PM” and a photograph of a smiling Mr. Rudd against the ALP logo of the Southern Cross, the story in the Iranian newspaper led: “ Australia's key western allies and its Asian neighbors congratulated Kevin Rudd on his election as prime minister, as Aborigines and republicans Sunday welcomed the change of government.”
It quoted the ARM Chairman (presumably acting chairman, see below) Mike Keating saying "It is important that the republic is not treated as a second-order issue in the Rudd government's first term. The importance of the symbolism of achieving the final step towards complete national independence and sovereignty should not be underrated."
The Age added that the ARM had called on Mr. Rudd ”to promptly begin dialogue on the issue of becoming a republic.” It is obviously trying to pressure Mr. Rudd by claiming that republicanism is a ”core” Labor commitment. Mr. Rudd has made it clear that this is not so.
In the meantime, the Chairman of the ARM, Ted O’Brien, who stood aside while he contested the seat of Brisbane in the federal election on 24 November 2007 as a Liberal candidate, was not successful in defeating the sitting Labor member, Mr Arch Bevis MP. After preferences were distributed, Mr. Bevis prevailed, 57.3%: 42.7%.
Australians for National Monarchy will soon call together the ACM National Council to discuss the implications of the Federal Election on the matters relating to our mission.