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Day to Day Politics: Conservative’s foot-dragging reluctance for change.

Tuesday 1 August.

One of the central tenants of the ideology of conservatism is that change should only ever be incremental. It is totality unsuited to a modern society where technology and a newly awakened benefit of the benefits of science is driving change at a relentless pace.

But it is not only technology that is driving change. A shift away from things spiritual is also changing society.

Conservatives are inclined to fight tooth and nail, even for things they know and admit to knowing, have an inevitable result.

An observation

”We dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent that which makes us feel secure.Yet change is in fact part of the very fabric of our existence”

One such example is Australia becoming a republic.

Bill Shorten has at last declared his hand. At some time during a Labor first term it will ask The Australian people the following question: ”Do you support an Australian republic with an Australian head of state?” If a clear majority votes yes to the plebiscite then.

I have posted this before but in light of the move by Shorten, and latest Essential Poll showing that 47% support a Republic 32% don’t and 20% have no opinion, I thought I would repost it with some revisions …

Royal Parade, in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton is a magnificent leafy tree-lined boulevard. It may not match the historical importance of St Kilda Road but for me it is where my Australian patriotism birthed. At the North end of Royal Parade where the long journey to Sydney begins is the home of the Carlton Football Club.

Australian Rules Football is uniquely Australian. I played the game with some success and I have never lost my love for its indigenous flavor

It was at this ground that I saw my first match and passages of play remain indelible on my mind sixty years on. However, this boulevard occupies another memory. The year of 1952 saw the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and in 1954 the new Queen visited Australia.

On this occasion her motorcade from Essendon Airport was to take her to the city via Royal Parade and school children lined the route. We were given a small Australian flag and a Union Jack. I was familiar with our flag because we raised it every day at school. All the children waved in joyous spontaneity but I refused to wave the English flag and tossed it away.

One teacher gave me a decent clip behind my left ear but I would not conform. I sauntered of in adolescent anger and wagged school for the remainder of the day. To this day I cannot explain my journey into republicanism. I was too young to understand the ramifications of it all.

Because I had spent my early childhood (with illness) in a home and attended five different schools in the space of six years I was really not qualified to form a definitive view on anything. I left school at 13 and started work before my 14th birthday. I am, in the main self-educated. I suppose the Irish could have influenced me on my mother’s side but I think it was more the adornment of all things English in the society of the time in preference to Australia that took me down the republican path.

Having said that, probably the socio economic environment in which I found myself helped form my views on social justice and other things.

I have always found this nationalistic worship of individuals (usually with no redeeming features) rather odd if not dangerous. So when as a teenager I went to the flicks or on any occasion where ”God Save The Queen” was played I refused point-blank to stand for the anthem.

In fact I often wondered what it was that she needed saving from. When in discussion about war and people talked about fighting for the mother country, Queen and flag I would simply say, “how preposterous, we fight for what we believe to be right. Not a piece of cloth or person.

I felt we owed them nothing anyway. After all Churchill was willing to sacrifice Australia for Britons gain during the Second World War. We were lucky that John Curtin stood up to him. Churchill even resisted the return of Australian troops from the Middle East to defend their own country; he wanted to use them In Burma to defend India against the advancing Japanese.

At this time in my life, growing up in Australia where the Prime Minister was ostensibly more British (and spoke like it) than the British and people felt they owed the mother country something, although they couldn’t explain why. So I carried my republicanism in my back pocket until the Australian Republican Movement was formed with Malcolm Turnbull at its head. I worked diligently for the cause during the 1999 referendum and had the honor of introducing former Premier Sir Rupert Hamer at a function.

There is no doubt in my mind that we had the right model to take to the people. We felt we had a reasonable chance of success but we were overwhelmed by the negativity of the media. Of course, John Howard acted like he was being perfectly reasonable but he had his pit bull terriers Tony Abbott and Nick Minchen distorting the facts with outlandish lies and Howard never once repudiated them.

In fact Tony Abbott has never lost the capacity to tell the most outrageous untruths. Well he’s probably better at it now. One of course has to wonder why such a serious Catholic who knowingly accepts that one of his faith is by birth ineligible should support the monarchy at all.

So the country lost interest in the matter and it is generally accepted that until the current Monarch retires or dies, our apathy shall continue. Malcolm Turnbull believes this will be the catalyst for action and may well be correct but telling a Monarch that, ‘’we are just waiting for you to die’’ before giving you seems to me to be almost cruel for an Elizabethan.

The way forward is through a non-binding plebiscite with a simple question. For example:  ”Do you think Australia should become a republic with its own head of state?”

A majority of us would support this and it would pave the way for exploration and development of various models. And with consensus the final model would evolve.

As I said earlier. I found nothing wrong with the original model. That being that from a short list the Prime Minister puts forward a person who is then given approval with a two-thirds majority by a joint sitting of both houses.

I would argue that the people elect the parliament and then entrust their representatives to appoint a President on their behalf. After all they entrust them to run the country. For those open to a direct election I would simply warn that this method would actually politicise the appointment. Suitable candidates may not be willing to stand in an election and would decline. They would not be interested in a popular contest.

Conversely many unsuitable people would and could win on the basis of popularity.

The British Monarchy to my way of thinking is undemocratic and inequitable in so much as it goes against commonly accepted Australian values such as fairness and egalitarianism.

Currently our head of state is selected not on merit but by the principle of hereditary male primogeniture (although that has since changed) and of course Catholics being specifically ineligible.

This is discriminatory and unfair, and wouldn’t be allowed under the anti-discrimination provisions of Australian law, yet is still the method of selection for the Australian head of state.

Given that the people were fully informed and educated on the proposals for an Australian Republic with an Aussie as head of state and a consensus agreed upon, then we could proceed to a referendum. If successful, we would then be able to move forward into as a fully free, united and confident nation.

An observation

”The secret of change is to focus all your energy on not fighting the old but on building the new.”

After 110 years of federation, we have grown up and if we are to take our place in the world, we must break our last constitutional links with England. It is utterly preposterous that we don’t have an Australian head of state.

Imagine if during the course of this hung parliament we had a President of the caliber of Sir William Deane. Although a ceremonial head of state his quiet calm would have reduced the toxicity of public debate that has insinuated itself on the Australian public over the past few years.

I recall after the referendum reading Malcolm Turnbull’s book, ”The Reluctant Republic” where he accused John Howard (the lying rodent, thanks, George) of breaking the hearts of Australians. He was in fact correct. He duded us and this Australian shed a tear.

My thought for the day

”Change sometimes disregards opinion and becomes a phenomenon of its own making. With Its own inevitability.”

 

23 comments

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  1. Harquebus

    During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the natural environment has been all but destroyed, the oceans polluted, the atmosphere poisoned, agricultural land sterilized, the climate has warmed, inequality has increased, the population exploded, resources stressed and depleted…. and on and on.
    What has she done to alleviate any of these? Nothing. She is worse than useless and it is way past time for her and her treacherous and deceitful institution to go.

    John Lord
    I am not a sports fan and don’t get me going on that (bread and circuses) however, on the matter of an Australian Republic, at last, we have something in common.

  2. Terry2

    It is richly ironic that Turnbull is prepared to die in a ditch to adhere to the Abbott policy of a plebiscite on marriage equality, and this very recalcitrance on his part is bringing about a mutiny in Liberal ranks and possibly signalling the demise of Turnbull’s leadership probably in favour of a return to a new Abbott regime.

    I can’t resist commenting on Corman’s comment on Labor’s policy to crack down on tax rorts through trusts : he say it is a tax grab, I wonder if he has any comment on the coalition’s raid on the banks ?

    And they say there is chaos in the White House !

  3. Jack Straw

    I agree with Harquebust in regards to The Queen.

  4. wam

    Dear Lord and H in agreement, wow!!!
    We were bussed in to the showgrounds to see phil and the queen(my future darling was a grade 3 wattle). I saw the milk stacked behind the mound and simply walked over and had a few whilst it was cold. When asked by an adult I told her that I was the monitor(one of your half-truths I made the ink each morning because I got to school first- usual with the milk and I had mine and two other kids whilst it was icy-cold)
    16 years of standing still(except in the election period when he lied his arse off about sucurity) under ming although he did support the CSIRO.
    As for catholics and australians (pun intended) they abound as leaders, except the two women, in the houses. Our private house has been 3 republicans and 1 royalist but my f/book is overwhelmingly royalist.

    ps Lord, another swamp draining with the nose being excised to give the general free run

  5. Stephen

    I believe and seem to recall reading articles about the willingness of people to accept change is pretty much hard-wired in people.
    I am about the same age as you late sixties but over my entire life I have been fascinated by the new and eager to learn and study and seek improvement both in the social and technological. Whitlam Republicanism home computers smart phones looking forward to the future and the possibilities and fascinated by history for the context and seeing the problems because I do examine the new, and do not blindly adopt everything that comes along.
    You see others never wanting to embrace change, always referring back as if it was some sort of golden age because they survived it and fearing the uncertain future.
    I see it in some friends family work colleagues. Change is uncertain to be feared opposed.
    Yet change is an inevitable force acting in the world things change always has and always will occur, the time they remember was one that resulted from change and differs for different people depending on when their memory harks back to. And that memory is very selective and self serving problems glossed over or ignored.
    You can’t freeze the world the way you want it to be, it will change with or without you. You don’t go forward by only looking backwards you reference it to help guide you forward.

  6. helvityni

    Australian Liberal leaders love Kings and Queens, it’s like living in a story book, having a Queen to curtsy for, makes you feel almost like a Royal yourself… Menzies got all poetic just thinking about her, Abbott even remembered to be nice to Prince Philip, and now Mal has confessed of being Elizabethan republican…they have class…they are Oz Royalty.( that Ciobo bloke on Q&A looked a bit uppity)

    The Labor leaders are so uncouth, Keating, put his arm around Lizzie’s waist …when will they ever learn…

    Sorry, Elizabeth ,not Lizzie.

  7. Karen Smith

    Harquebus, it is not the Queens fault that greedy bastards rape and plunder the earth for it’s natural resources. Greedy people do that.

    If we, as well as several other countries, really are ruled by the commonwealth and the Queen was not happy about all this then why did she not play the trump card and stop it all?
    I used to be against Australia becoming a republic, I now have a more mature view on it and I agree that it is well and truly time.

  8. townsvilleblog

    How about the knuckle dragging workers who vote for these anti-people morons, they vote against their own best interests in order to make the 0.1% of the global population richer than they already are, bloody ridiculous.

  9. Terry2

    And, Helvityni, the Americans, despite dispatching George iii, seem to have embraced an emperor with no clothes : sorry about that visual image folks, hope you have all had breakfast !

  10. silkworm

    What the hell does “things spiritual” mean? I wish you’d give us warning before you throw in such gibberish.

  11. seaworkr

    Would you like Tony Abbott as president of Australia?

  12. Michael Taylor

    Silky, I read it that the Church is losing its grip.

    I’d argue that it started a few centuries ago, and is not as contemporary as John would suggest.

  13. pierre wilkinson

    or seaworkr, little lying rodent Johnny Howard

  14. king1394

    Why do we need a ‘head of state’ at all? The Governor General’s role, which would I surmise become the President’s role, is to sign assent to Bills that have already been passed, and to swear in a range of people who make it into Federal politics. Signing assent is unnecessary. Swearing in could be done by a Judge or a Churchman, and again is a ceremonial occasion that does not seem to transform our politicians in any way. The hosting of receptions seems to be another job which makes me think that a well equipped caterer would be the best person for the job. The shaking of hands at the receipt of honours and the cutting of ribbons can be done by any prominent person.

    The Governor General nowadays is a human rubber stamp. He/she is not supposed to speak, except in the most general terms, so the role has no influence. (It’s a bit unfair to criticise the Queen for not speaking out, staying silent is part of the role).

    So, I think we should vote for an Australian Republic, and remove the whole existence of Heads of State from our system at the same time.

  15. John Lord

    silkworm. If you cannot understand that I have used the expression ”things spiritual” as a metaphor for religion then your analytical reading skills need improving. Don’t mean to offend, but really.

  16. Terry2

    King

    It gets messy as the GG is the Queen’s representative and the Queen still runs the joint, according to our Constitution :

    SECT 59 Disallowance by the Queen.

    The Queen may disallow any law within one year from the Governor-General’s assent, and such disallowance on being made known by the Governor-General by speech or message to each of the Houses of the Parliament, or by Proclamation, shall annul the law from the day when the disallowance is so made known.

    The big problem is that we have a Constitution creaking with obsolescence and our politicians are not prepared to do anything about it : look at section 44 and the dual citizenship farce . We really have to get serious and have a Constitutional conference to update our Constitution and, among other things, incorporate a Bill of Rights and then have a real referendum to bring us into the 21st century.

  17. jimhaz

    [One of the central tenants of the ideology of conservatism is that change should only ever be incremental]

    Conservatives are always deceiving themselves – ever met a conservative who was not gung-ho about changes that business wishes to foist upon workers.

    Lets face it they are just selfish arseholes.

    Also the above statement seems too loose – Bernardi for example fears incremental social change ie his comments about bestiality.

  18. Jack

    Hmm.. So BS Bill opposes the plebiscite on SSM. Something about people being offended and a waste of money, but he was really just playing politics. Now he proposes his own plebiscite.

    If a government gets voted in on the back of saying they’ll do something, they should just get on with it and do it. Why waste time and money on a plebiscite?

    Just come out and say if we win the next election we will set aside X$ developing a republican model to put to the people at the following election.
    Likewise come out and say you’ll introduce SSM(apologies if he has and I’ve missed it)

    A plebiscite seems like just another way of gauging public opinion, nothing more. Don’t we have enough newspolls going around for that

  19. Terry2

    Interesting point raised by Crikey newsletter :

    For this latest push for marriage equality to pass into law in Australia it will have to go to the vote soon, as there are just three sitting weeks before mid-September and, long-time marriage equality supporter Liberal MP Warren Entsch is leaving for an overseas trip to act as a UN observer for three months, putting him out on any possible vote on the floor of Parliament until the end of the year.

    The point about Entsch being away on a three month junket is either designed to have him out of the way and unable to cross the floor or it could backfire if they can bring the vote to the floor of parliament before he heads off.

    The junket – you can’t call it anything else – is the same one Bernardi went on last year : nice work if you can get it !

  20. True Activist

    Be careful a lot of people are pushing for a false republic – you will replace the Queen with people serving her and the City of London & Wall Street.

  21. Kevin Brewer

    I love the way bad history can be used to support an idea. Like the author I was a member of the ARM. Until the fiasco with GG Hollingsworth, when I realised that politics operates at the highest level against the interests of everyone. I certainly voted against Howard’s model o fthe republic.

    A republic is simply the exchange of the present system for one fairly well like it. We now have an Australian head of state, the Queen rarely visits so is rarely involved in anything to do with this country, and our present system is cheap. We need republicans to stop being so adolescent about the head of state. Our GG and all our Govs are appointed and most do a reasonable job, except that cur Kerr, but a president would have had his pocket pissed in by Sir Anthony Mason and the same result would have happened. That Menzies had such a long Pmship is not the fault of the Queen, but of the Australian electorate who had forgotten his white feather cowardice in WWI and his failure in 1939 to adequately prepare the country for war. Curtin might have argued with Churchill about the return of the 2nd AIF from North Africa, so what. Curtin lay down in front of MacArthur. So they switched to another great power for succour, and there they have remained, tied to bad US strategic visions. Will a president do anything about that? Nup. A president will have no mandate to do anything but what they are told, just like the present GG.

    The fantasy of a republic as a free united etc is simply delusional. A happy ever after moment? The authors of our constitution had an opportunity to look at all models of democracy. They took bits from Canada, the US, Britain, and then they made their own. They didn’t think a republic was any more useful than the system they invented. Once various bits were repatriated then we became the fully free, united and confident nation the author hopes we will become once a republic is declared.

    As for this piece of argument, I am not convinced and will vote against a republic. FFS India is a republic and they are still in the Commonwealth. They still get visits from the royals and love them.

  22. stephengb2014

    I declare my hand and say I am an Englishman with dual citizenship. A second class citizen, because I can be deported even without dual citizenship

    Yes I think becoming a Republic is perfectly logical, after all Australians by and large reject anything British, including any heritage that Britain transfered to Australia, in fact Australia would rather be a vassel state of the USA (isn’t the USA doing well).

    Yes it is true that Britain did tend to want to use volunteer troops from Australia, just to survive a couple of more days, untill the USA came into the war. And yes both Britain and Australia would be a lot different had not the USA come into the war to end the carnage from Japan and Germany.
    But lets stop this bullshot about what Britain did to Australia during the first or second world war.
    It was a world war, and Australia was in it, and fought bravely. But so did Britain, America, Canada, India, New Zealand, Ireland, Scot and wales, and whole lot of others, the Gurkha’s were especially brave.
    Do not for one second forget that when Britain demanded Australian troops to return to the northern theatre of war, Britain was about to be over-run, Australia was under threat but not anywhere near being over-run – pragmatism was the order of the day.
    Yes it is true Australia lost 39 thousand troops and 7 hundred civilians.

    Whilst Britain only lost 383 thousand troops, and 67 thousand civilians.

    Now back to the republic – yes I will vote yes – it is time, but make sure that our new figure head has no more power than the current figure head exercised by the GG.

    Rant 0ver

    SGB

  23. Terry2

    Stephen, I agree with your sentiments but I also feel that the advent of Trump has made many Australians suspicious about installing a President and the model for our Republic would have to be very carefully thought out.
    What we are seeing in the USA has been a stunning assault on democracy that has even caught many Americans off guard.

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