January 19

The Queen: A Homecoming

We can think of no better symbolic effort than for The Queen to visit her flood –stricken subjects later this year when, hopefully, she attends the Commownwealth Heads of Government Meeting here.

So proposed the editorial in the influential journal Spectator Australia on 15 January. (The Spectator is a leading log established international journal which with the addition of  the Australian section has made it the leading Australian political weekly.)

We agree with the editor, and look forward to a Royal Tour, or as the Canadians prefer, a Homecoming.

The Queen is our Sovereign. She has exercised a watching brief over this nation for longer than anyone in our polity. This was not just from her accession in 1954, but at least from the day she came of age and made that memorable declaration from Capetown to the Commonwealth on 21 April 1947:

"I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong."

…impeccable service…

Let it not be forgotten that she serves as Queen of Australia, not to be re-elected, not to acquire and to wield power, not for any income , nor for any golden handshake or  generous superannuation.

She serves as Queen because she believes it is her duty, She personifies the Australian Crown, our oldest constitutional and legal institution, and one of the pillars of our nation.

The Crown  is the institution under which the settlement was founded, under which the rule of law was introduced, responsible self government was granted and under which we federated and became independent.

It is the institution beyond politics, the one to which the armed forces, the judiciary, the public service, the politicians and the citizenry owe allegiance. 

When a referendum on a republic was put to the people in 1999, she did not campaign, but declared that it was for us to decide, that she would accept that decision and that whatever the decision, Australia would remain close to her heart.

…referendum affirmation…

 ACM therefore took the decision not to campaign on her evident qualities and her impeccable service, but solely on  constitutional issues.

The republican movement frequently attacked ACM for this.

It was extraordinary to find our opponents spending their time on actually  telling ACM how to campaign. 

(Although weellendowed and enjoying great media and political support, the Yes case managed to present inconsistent arguments to the people. For example, Mr. Turnbull argued that the referendum involved a minor change to the constitution.  Mr. Thomas Keneally, the first republican movement chairman, argued that it was the biggest structural change since Federation.

Mr. Turnbull argued the republican model had no flaws. Mr. Beazley said the flaws could be fixed up in later referendums. 

 ACM presented no inconsistent arguments, nor did the Vote No Committee, which included two independent republicans opposed to the referendum model.)

The point is Her Majesty continues as Queen of Australia, and was affirmed as such in the 1999 landslide.

The sentiments expressed in the Spectator Australia editorial are welcome indeed.


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