The question is; should Australia become a republic with its own head of state? It’s a question that could have and should have waited until the burial of Queen Elizabeth was over and a time of mourning had passed. Although I had hoped it wouldn’t happen until an appropriate time after her death, it has.
Notably, Prime Minister Albanese had rightly announced that the question of a republic would come after a voice for our First Nations People had been established or at least a referendum voted on.
But the media being what they are, has raised the matter anyway.
Her Majesty was highly accomplished at consistently avoiding controversy in the political sense of the word, with a lovely ability to open garden shows and attend the races. She liked spending the summer at Balmoral in Scotland or flying around the world, saying hello to countries still in the commonwealth of nations.
As the matriarch of the world’s most dysfunctional Royal Family, she had attributes most mothers don’t. Until her final days, Prince Andrew was still begging to be reinstated in his previous privileged royal roles.
If you think I am being rather flippant in my description of her royal duties, then I suppose I am. Like many republicans, I recognise those ineffable qualities established in her leadership, despite unspoken qualifications yet found in a commitment to service and belief in the common good.
Former Prime Minister, Paul Keating in as statement in a statement upon her death implied that:
“… the Queen rejected the right-wing politics of the UK in the 1980s and 90s under then-PM Margaret Thatcher.
When asked about those times, he answered:
“In the 20th century, the self-became privatised, while the public realm, the realm of the public good, was broadly neglected.”
“Queen Elizabeth understood this and instinctively attached herself to the public good against what she recognised as a tidal wave of private interest and private reward. And she did this for a lifetime. Never deviating.
“She was an exemplar of public leadership, married for a lifetime to political restraint, remaining always, the constitutional monarch.”
“In the 20th century, the self-became privatised, while the public realm, the realm of the public good, was broadly neglected.
Queen Elizabeth understood this and instinctively attached herself to the public good against what she recognised as a tidal wave of private interest and private reward. And she did this for a lifetime. Never deviating.
She was an exemplar of public leadership, married for a lifetime to political restraint, remaining always, the constitutional Monarch.
To the extent that an hereditary monarch can ever reflect the will or conscience of a people, in the case of Britain, Queen Elizabeth assimilated a national consciousness reflecting every good instinct and custom the British people possessed and held to their heart.
In a seventy-year reign, she was required to meet literally hundreds of thousands of officials – presidents, prime ministers, ministers, premiers, mayors and municipal personalities.
It was more than one person should ever have been asked to do.
But Elizabeth the Second’s stoicism and moralism welded her to the task and with it, the idea of monarchy.
Her exceptionally long, dedicated reign is unlikely to be repeated; not only in Britain, but in the world generally.
With her passing her example of public service remains with us as a lesson in dedication to a lifelong mission in what she saw as the value of what is both enduringly good and right.”
As we mourn the death of #QueenElizabethII, our thoughts will turn to Australian identity in her wake. My favourite old quote on this is from Paul Keating: "Australia should be like a wok, lightly stir-frying the ingredients of our population into a harmonious Australian whole."
— Pradeep Taneja (谭雷笳) (@PradeepKTaneja) September 9, 2022
Her qualities lay in her leadership and steadfastness, which set an example for leaders worldwide to follow. Alas, they have not.
WORDS THAT MAKE YOU THINK
"If we were drafting our Constitution today, does anyone seriously dispute that we would require our head of state to be an Australian. Surely the Monarchy belongs to our past and not our future."
— john lord (@saint13333) September 13, 2022
A portion of a piece I wrote for The AIMN in 2018:
“So, the country lost interest in the matter, and it is generally accepted that our apathy shall continue until the current Monarch retires or dies.
Malcolm Turnbull believes this will be the catalyst for action and is, in all probability, correct. 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 the exploration and development of various models.
And with the consensus, the final model would evolve, as I said earlier. I found nothing wrong with the original model. That being that from a shortlist, the Prime Minister puts forward a person who is approved 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.
Suitable candidates may not be willing to stand in an election and would decline. They would not be interested in a popular contest. I would simply warn those open to a direct election that this method would politicise the appointment.
Conversely, many unsuitable people would and could win based on popularity.
To my way of thinking, the British Monarchy 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, it 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 the Australian Republic with an Aussie as head of state and a consensus agreed upon, we could proceed to a referendum.
If successful, we would then be able to move forward into the new millennium as a fully free, united and confident nation. 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 a hung parliament, we had a President of the calibre 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 during the Luddite period of Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison.
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
Our lives have become controlled by the noise of the mass media. The sad thing is that we listen.
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