It is interesting to see how Australian republicanism is seen from London.
By the way, the term the “Feral Republic of Australia” comes from Paul Keating’s proposed new name for his republic, the “ Federal Republic of Australia”.
When he announced it, many of his listeners thought he had said the Feral Republic of Australia, and as they say, it stuck.
A supporter living in the UK, Mr Eric Brown, sends this encouraging letter:
“I was delighted to read Professor David Flint’s letter (see below) in today’s "The Scotsman" (of Edinburgh, UK), which robustly defends our system – and yours! – of a constitutional monarchy.
Given how the Australian media that is republican-minded has been exaggerating the present Royal Wedding fiasco (and Prince Harry’s fancy-dress costume) and deliberately downplaying Prince Charles’s visit to Australia, it is good to see that not all Australians favour a republic or see the establishment of a republic as inevitable…" "I was born in 1942 and am indebted to the way that the peoples of the Commonwealth and the then British Empire came to the defence of what they still saw as the mother country.
"When I visit Australia, I do not feel that I am visiting a foreign country but one that retains much that is, in the widest sense of the word, "British". "By the way, at the same time as you celebrate the visit by Mary Donaldson, Crown Princess of Denmark, to her native shores, please do not forget that her father and late mother emigrated to your shores from Scotland. I think that we have some claim on her. However, Australians will be loath to admit this debt of gratitude. Yours faithfully, Eric Brown”
The letter from The Scotsman follows:
“Role of the monarchy
"The call by Harold Brookes-Baker, of Burke’s Peerage, for a commission to determine the future of the monarchy is no doubt well intended (your report, 25 February).
"But he may have overlooked the fact that the Queen is also the sovereign of 15 other countries which must be consulted on matters of substance.
"The role of the monarchy differs in each, but the Queen remains an essential part of the Australian constitution.
"The Crown is, of course, constitutionally important in all of the 16 realms, not so much for the power it can wield, but the power it denies others.
"A commission without representation from all 16 would be wrong in principle. "The Crown is an intrinsic, essential and yet evolving institution in all of our countries.
" Don’t meddle with it
(PROF) DAVID FLINT
Australians for Constitutional Monarchy”
Mr Brown also sent us the following letter which was published in The Times on 16 October, 2004. This was about an editorial we had criticised in this column.
From Mr Ian Alexander
"Sir, As an Australian who values our just and stable constitutional arrangements, I was disturbed to see The Times advocating that our Prime Minister should now prepare to destroy them (leading article, October 11). "he monarchy serves us all equally, while an elected presidency would create divisions. Victorious majorities mean resentful minorities, and a political head of state must one day come into conflict with Parliament. Good governance is worth more than symbolism.
"What, after all, would such a symbol represent? I have no desire to see Australian-ness "redefined" in terms of a parochial nationalism, nor do I see the need to equate independence with the repudiation of family ties. We are a young country, but that does not mean that we must behave like an adolescent one.
"Australia will never find its true place in the world by placing geography ahead of identity. The way forward is alongside those countries with which we share our fundamental values and institutions: New Zealand, Canada and, of course, the UK.
"We should be working together more closely, not pushing each other away.
Congratulations to Mr Alexander, and many thanks to Mr Brown for keeping us informed , and for his encouragement and support.
We are clearly not alone!
"Paris brule-t-il?", (Is Paris Burning?) was a famous film about the liberation of Paris.
Is Paris burning today, or rather, these last eleven nights?
More importantly, what should be done?
The answer, the politicians say, is in reasserting “republican values".
That has been the stock in trade of the political class in every crisis since the French Revolution.
It is their answer to the extraordinary break down of law and order in France today.
Imagine – in one night around one thousand cars are torched, a tourist bus destroyed, shops and schools attacked, and burned down.
And not only in Paris.
And at the time of writing, this had been going on for eleven nights.
Well, what are these "republican values"?
Liberty, equality, fraternity?
And certainly, these values are against religion, or at least religion in public or in education, even in the celebation of marriage.
Remember the “Goddess of Reason”, said to be a lady the night, enthroned on the altar of the Notre Dame.
The republican war against religion was won over one century ago in the secularisation of the Third Republic, and in the successor Fourth and Fifth Republics.
France is the most fiecely secular state in the West, adirection the US Supreme Court has tried to follow.
In any event, liberty, equality and fraternity did not apply to the victims of the Reign of Terorr. They did not apply under the Bonaparte dictatorship. They certainly did not apply to those rounded up by the gendarmes to be deported to Germany during the occupation.
Nor have they applied to the immigrants to France who have been exiled to public housing in bleak satellite towns.
They have been denied, as The Times’ Charles Bremmer* writes in The Australian of 8 November, the “ascenseur social”, the social elevator, which is supposed to lift immigrants into the mainstream.
But that “ascenseur social” has worked, and worked well, in Australia, Canada and the UK.
And without any reliance on” republican values”!
Meanwhile, the political reaction to the crisis is coloured by the competition between each of the players- President Jacques Chirac, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, and Minister of The Interior Nicholas Sarkozy.
Whatever each does, they will do it measuring its effect on their hope to be the next President of France. The younger two are ambitious to take the highest political position in France. The incumbent wants it for at least one reason-it gives him immunity – not only from prosecution but even from investigation- for offences alleged while he was Mayor of Paris.
And this is the sort of republic the republican movement thinks it can foist on Australia!
Until next time,