A revised Position Paper by Peter Consandine © 2011
Since time immemorial we have ALL heard the legal term: Justice delayed is Justice denied. Many of us can relate to this aphorism. Genuine Republicans certainly can. If a Prime Minister of a major political party which has a “Republican” plank in its platform won’t advance Australia’s constitutional future then we have delay. Without question. If this same Prime Minister delays on the matter – for the expressed reasons stated below – then she denies the people of this country the constitutional future that they cherish – a “Republican” future.
Labor Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, like her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, hold to the view that Australia must wait until the monarch, Queen Elizabeth the Last, dies before the country can “go Republican”.
The writer, Peter Consandine, was in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly at the time of the centenary celebration of the 1891 Sydney Constitutional Convention in March 1991 when the then Prime Minister of Australia, Bob Hawke, made the very same statement.
From the floor of the “Bear Pit” Peter Consandine took issue with Bob Hawke on that occasion in front of the 275-odd delegates. Peter Consandine takes issue with Julia Gillard now. These heavyweight Labor politicians and others who espouse the same sentiments are “torpedoes” for the Australian Republic. They are also non-patriots as status quoists.
What Bob Hawke in 1991 was saying and what Julia Gillard is now saying, unwittingly and unfortunately, overlooks the harsh reality of the consequences of this delay, namely: that when the monarch dies – as she surely some day will – we automatically get her son, Prince Charles, as our next/new Head of State.
Her Majesty, now 85 and looking very “grannyish” upon arrival for her 16th tour of The Antipodes undoubtedly has the “royal genes” – her mother lived to be 101 (nearly 102!) – and, given her pampered life, she’s a likely candidate as a centenarian.
The Australian Republic cannot be delayed another 15+ years! Delay equates to Denial!
Already, there has at least been 30 years of delay and denial – or 28 years if one goes back to 1983 – when Bob Hawke was first elected Prime Minister with the “Republican” plank having been built in to the Labor Party federal platform, albeit by default, in 1981!
REPUBLIC NOW! NOT WHEN the MONARCH DIES!!
Once upon a time, our monarch went on the public record and clearly indicated that, if and when Australians – by way of a referendum – decided to “cut the proverbial apron strings” she, though disappointed, would not put anything in the way of a smooth transition from constitutional monarchy to constitutional republic. After all, many former British Colonies which became Independent Republics, retained links with their former overlords by remaining participating countries in the so-called Commonwealth of Nations of which our monarch is the titular head.
And her son, the monarch-in-waiting, Prince Charles, has on one famous occasion made it plain that “The Australian Republicans may be right!”. He even won The REPUBLICANS’ “Republican of the Year 1994” award for this assertion which made the headlines and newspaper placards of the day. Australia-wide.
As monarchs go, our present one has hardly put a foot wrong in more than a half-century. Insofar, she is and has been “acceptable”. On the other hand it could be generally and fairly surmised that Australians overall, Republicans et al, do not share the same affection for the Prince of Wales and his second wife who might be granted the next Queen of Australia title. In sum: most of us have grown up with a British foreigner Head of State but our links with the crown are holding back the natural progression to ‘Republicanism’ for the aspiring Australian people.
If we desire an end to the outmoded arrangements which obtain then we must act for the Australian Republic before the monarch dies. However, the most appropriate steps must be taken. A multi-pronged approach is envisaged and the very first step, in the writer’s opinion, is to foster a campaign of “kind advocacy”.
The monarch must not – in any way – be subjected to ridicule or insult. Looking at it from her perspective…she has no say in the matter whatsoever; she is merely performing her duties – doing her job. She is a prisoner, in every regard. If ALL the Australian Republican groups – large and small – can coalesce under one united approach to “freeing the monarch” then we will earn our freedom in the wash-up! It is the only safe approach the writer can think of which will attract the doubters and waverers (the “Don’t Knows”) to The Cause. This will be the big challenge for dutiful, dedicated Republicans. This challenge will need to be complemented by a well-trained army of advocates promoting a 3-Phase Process for ultimate 2nd and Final Referendum success.
The 3-PHASE PROCESS
Stage 1: Indicative Referendum on the YES/NO Question…Republic desired OR Status Quo retained (this initial part of the 3-Phase Process is virtually a nationwide Opinion Poll with voting voluntary);
Stage 2: Predicated on a “YES” Vote overall in Stage 1, a nationwide binding Plebiscite offering a menu of four models [the precedent was established for this procedure in the 1977 National Song Plebiscite];
Stage 3: The most popular of the four Plebiscite models forms the fundamental basis of the Official YES/NO Referendum Question which is then put to the Australian People with voting compulsory.
© Peter Consandine 2011