February 15

Yet another republican changing his mind?

On the arrival of Prince William, a former leading politician and an editor and journalist seemed to move away from their republicanism:  “Mass Conversion”, 18 January, 2010.

In an interesting piece on James Cook University in North Queensland and on research in regional universities, “North Queensland points way forward for regions,” (The Australian, 24/12), the former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie lays great stress on the Royal involvement in the birth of the University.

“On April 20, 1970,” he writes, “The Queen personally granted royal assent to the James Cook University of North Queensland Bill at the Townsville campus.”

This was clearly a special occasion, a way of emphasising the special importance Queenslanders placed on this event.

…is he changing his mind?…

Does this willingness to accept the feeling most Australians have towards the Sovereign signal a re-appraisal by Mr. Beattie, who was previously committed to a politicians’ republic?

Does he accept that only a limited minority of Australians are committed to this change, and especially among the young?

And has he come to the realisation that those few committed republicans are more often than not  irrevocably divided,  preferring the status quo to the alternative republican model?

That said, it must be acknowledged that Mr. Beattie is quite capable of changing his mind on constitutional matters.

He did so – famously – at the Constitutional Convention in 1998.

…shameful episode…


 One of the most shameful episodes at the 1998 Constitutional Convention, writes Sir David Smith, was a devious attempt by the republican movement to control the way monarchists could vote.

This was a complicated voting procedure involving five rounds of voting with the presentconstitutional  system not being introduced for debate and vote until Round 4B.

This was to stop monarchists voting strategically, that is to bring up the so–called  “least worst”  McGarvie model. It essentially involved a council of former viceroys and chief justices playing the role of The Queen.

This was also assumed generally to be the one easiest to defeat in a referendum. ACM and its allies had more than enough votes to make it the convention model.

…quite mad, a habitual liar or just an idiot…

[Continued below]

When I write about the Convention and the referendum, the leaders of the republican movements of Australia and New Zealand often  say that I am factually wrong.

But I was there, and they were not, and Hansard supports me.  

These republican leaders became most emotional when I recalled the fact that Gerry  Adams came to Australia during the referendum and became the only well known foreigner to campaign for a Yes vote.

The fact that the current republican leaders denied this happened caused some amusement at The Australian:  “Winning new ARM approach,” 14 September, 2010.

The Australian quoted the media director of the republican movement’s extrordinary  email to me:

"When did Gerry Adams come to Australia in 1999 and when did he ask Australians to vote yes to the referendum? No one seems to be able to find any record of either event.

Are you quite mad, a habitual liar or just an idiot? "

The Australian commented:

“It took us two seconds to discover Adams visited Australia for eight days in February 1999; we used the internet.

As for the other matter, here's a snippet from The Sun-Herald at the time:

"Mr Adams also urged Australians to vote yes in December's republic referendum. 'I believe in the republic as the democratic form of society,' he said. 'I don't have time for monarchies of any kind.'

"We hope that helps”. 

…Malcolm Turnbull invites Peter Beattie to come outside…

So anyone doubting that the republican movement tried to control the way monarchists could vote, should first consult Hansard and then Sir David  Smith’s authoritative book, Head of State, 2005, page 196-198. He writes:

This was pointless, since ACM had decided in the previous year that we would allow the republicans to choose their own model without any interference, a policy which we applied later at Corowa.

A fascinating thing happened during the debate.

Bill Hayden said to Gareth Evans, “Frankly Gareth if I did not know you well, I would say this is a bit of a ramp being worked up here in a way that is not unknown in Labor Party conferences

.”Peter Beattie supported Bill Hayden in objecting to the voting rules. He was then taken outside by Malcolm Turnbull.

When he returned to the chamber he reversed his position and voted for the proposal.

“Why the turn around, Peter?” asked Sir David.

Peter Beattie laughed, saying” I’ve been persuaded to see the light.”

Perhaps Mr. Beattie is once again seeing the light. 


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