Australians know from experience that the republican movement will use any tactic to destroy the Crown. In 1999, the republicans sunk to arguing over and over that a No vote was a vote for King Charles and Queen Camilla.
ACM, and the official Vote No Committee chaired by ACM Executive Director Kerry Jones, never once tried to trade on the respect, status and popularity of The Queen. ACM put our case only on constitutional grounds, as did the Vote No Committee.
The Australian people were obviously not impressed by the republicans personal attack on Prince Charles, who has many excellent qualities the media would prefer to ignore-for example that in just the last year, he raised a quarter of abillion dollars for charities in the uK and the poorer Commonwealth countries.
The result in 1999 was a landslide rejection of the republican establishments preferred model. The republican movement has learned nothing since then. We do not know whether they have also forgotten nothing, but we do know that in trying to distort the impact of the Royal Marriage, they are resorting to the same sordid tactics. Their example is being followed by other republicans in the UK. This is not surprising. Had the 1999 referendum been successful, the tactics and strategy of the Australian republican movement would have been a case study to be followed by the British and other republican movements. The Times previously editorialised that Australia should become a republic. This editorial called on John Howard, who had just been elected, to abandon his principles and turn Australia into a republic.( This extraordinary demand was the subject of my column on 13 October 2004)
So The Times agenda is clear. It sees this country through a republican prism. How very odd. You see, as with our own republican newspaper, The Age, The Times carries on page one, a banner which is, believe it or not, the Royal Coat of Arms!
As the psychogist said of Basil Fawlty, there is probably a thesis in that! In any event the newspaper reported (24 March 2005 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1538988,00.html) what it described as concern in the Commonwealth about the Royal Marriage. It specifically referred to an opinion piece by the ARM in The Australian. One disturbing aspect in The Times article was a reported comment by a spokesman from the Commonwealth Secretariat. It was not so much the substance of the comment , but the fact that it was made, which hardly seems to be the role and function of the Secretariat. Joel Kibazo, the spokesman for the Commonwealth Secretariat, which is described as giving advice to members on the constitutional implications of the marriage, is quoted as saying:
"We understand that some of the states concerned do want to know what their options are. We do know that one or two want out." Does the Secretary General allow his staff to speculate about such things?
We also learn from the article that the ARM had recorded a steep rise in membership because of the wedding. Note that, a steep rise. But a journalist told me that when he asked for details of what was then only described as a surge, not a steep rise in membership, he was told the ARM could not provide this!
Surely it is the function of the press to ask questions about assertions such as this one?
The Times finally invited comment on the impact of the wedding on The Commonwealth. So I sent this:
They tried it before.
Australia’s republicans tried everything to persuade the people to vote for a republic in 1999. A frequent slogan was that a No vote was a vote for King Charles and Queen Camilla. Notwithstanding overwhelming support from the media and the politicians, there was a landslide, every state and 72% of electorates voting No.
Republicans had been given every chance and prodigious amounts of money to prove their case. They had a free hand to choose their preferred process and their very best model both in the Republic Advisory Committee, which contained not one constitutional monarchist, as well as in the Convention.
Now, less than six years after their defeat they have adopted a convoluted plan to wear down the people. There will be not one but three federal votes, and an unknown number of state ones. This will culminate in a republic which will give Australians, who already have more politicians per head than most countries, exactly what they are all dreaming about -yet another election and yet one more politician, a politician president. He or she will be able to use the considerable powers of the non- political Governor-General to ensure our Westminster system no longer works. So much so that the MP who led the republicans in the 1999 campaign, Malcolm Turnbull warns that this will end in a defeat greater then in 1999. In the meantime millions and millions of dollars will have been diverted from schools, hospitals and transport into this folly.
You can understand then why Australia’s republicans are making as much mischief as they can out of the wedding. But the wife of the sovereign cannot of course ever be Queen of Australia-this is by law reserved to a reigning female sovereign. And whether the courtesy title Princess Consort or Queen Consort is used neither has any constitutional significance in Australia or any of the Realms. Most Australians see through the republican’s games and wish the royal couple well. In the meantime we never hear of the work of Prince Charles – for example that last year he raised a quarter of a billion dollars (Aus) for charitable work among the disadvantaged in the UK and poorer Commonwealth countries.
National Convenor etc.
It is clear that republicans will do anything to undermine our Constitutions.
Until next time,