State of The REPUBLICAN Nation Report #3 of January, 2015
Writer: PETER CONSANDINE
NO MOVEMENT…NO REPUBLIC!
Paraphrasing Albert Einstein: For Something to Happen – Something Has to Move. Indeed, there must be movement if something is to happen. So, at the outset of this report, the Writer posits the pertinent question: Why has it got to the stage when fellow-Australians ask me: “Are the ARM (Australian Republican Movement) still going?”; “Is there still a Movement?”; “What are the ARM up to, these days?”; and make such similar enquiries? This matter was dealt with pretty comprehensively in fully 3 sections of State of the REPUBLICAN Nation Report #2 of July this past year. 2 letters The RPA wrote to the 2 ARM
Top Brass persona – Geoff Gallop and David Morris – those of September and December 2014 have gone UNanswered. The RPA has attempted to engage the ARM in Joint Activity that on the evidence to date has both traction and attraction.
The OZ REPUBLIC by DEFAULT CAMPAIGN is UNDER WAY
Time being of the essence, The RPA ‘test drove’ the State Republic of Tasmania Campaign during the month of October, 2014 in and on the Island State and ‘got an encouraging start’ [*a detailed though concise report may be found on The Republicans’ website]. The Victorian State Republic Campaign kick-starts on 14 January in South Yarra, Melbourne whilst the Western Australian State Republic Campaign launches on 12 March in Fremantle, Perth. The ARM have been offered the ‘other’ 3 States of New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia but if they don’t respond to The RPAs overtures, though it will stretch The RPA to-the-max, The Party will go ahead and put it ALL into place – Australia-wide – by Year’s End, 2015. Well, that’s the plan, anyway.
UPDATES on the POTENTIAL CATALYSTS for the AUSTRALIAN REPUBLIC
1. The Scots rejected full independence in their September 2014 referendum. It was most astonishing to
observe the queen’s intervention in the latter stages of the campaign. Though remarkable, it was
entirely understandable – vested interests were at stake. And if perchance the ‘YES’ vote had carried,
what would have been the new title bestowed on Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh?
2. Abdication is now beginning to be mooted as the near-term option for the queen. At going-on 89 she
is now a great-grandmother and very much looking a ‘grannie’. She has probably made her final tour
of the Antipodes. Robert Hardman in his 2011 book ‘OUR QUEEN’ on page #11 quotes Prince
William – second in line to the proverbial throne – “she’s so dedicated and really determined to
finish everything she started. She’ll want to hand over knowing she’s done everything she can for the
country and that she’s not let anyone down – she minds an awful lot about that”. *those words [my
italics] hand over…Hmmm. Hardman on page #49 also quotes a former un-named Private Secretary
thus: “She doesn’t want to do the same old thing anymore” which might indicate Her Maj is getting
bored with the job. Anyway, The RPA has swooped on to these clues and, pre Xmas 2014, wrote an
encouraging but respectful letter to her urging she take ‘early retirement’ once her reign has
surpassed the record monarchical term of her great great grandmother, Queen Victoria, in a couple
of year’s time, say, late 2016. [*The letter in question may be viewed on The Republicans’ website].
3. It was widely reported in November 2014 that the British government was fighting to stop the
publication of Prince Charles, the Monarch-in-Waiting’s 27 or so secret letters to Westminster
government ministers (over 25 years or more). The so-called ‘black spider memos’ – because of
Chukka’s scratchy handwriting – a credit which must be given to prominent UK royal-watcher,
Margaret Holder. This is a most serious matter from the perspective of just how interventionist a
Charles 3rd monarchy might or could be. *Always bearing in mind that there is a section – Section #59
of the Australian Constitution – which admittedly has never been employed to date – but might or
could be when or if the current Prince of Wales becomes Australia’s next king/next Head-of-State.
FIFTEEN YEARS ON…
It is timely to revisit the failed 1st Referendum on Australia’s becoming a Republic. Andrew Bolt reminded me
in a Melbourne Herald article he wrote in this past year of 2014 on how the republican support in Australia had dropped to its lowest level in 35 years, that there were actually 2 newspaper editorials – those of the Australian Financial Review and the West Australian – that advocated a ‘NO’ vote at the time: November, 1999. However,
it is now fair and reasonable to allege that the Labor Party and Opposition of the Day failed the Republic the most. Hindsight is an exact science. And a hard-nosed analysis of the 150 Federal electorates at the time bears out the facts:
Labor ONLY carried 24 electorates to the Liberals’ 18…(then) Opposition Leader, Kim Beazley, couldn’t carry his WA Seat of Brand; 3 Future Labor Opposition Leaders – 2 of whom went on to become Prime Ministers – K-Rudd in Griffith and Juliar Gillard in Lalor and Mark Latham in Werriwa couldn’t carry the ‘YES’ vote in their respective Federal electorates. And neither could Paul Keating’s successor in the Seat of Blaxland, Michael Hatton. Whereas, the ‘YES’ vote carried in the (then) Prime Minister, John Howard’s Seat of Bennelong, the future Opposition Leader and, indeed, future Prime Minister, Tony Abbott’s Seat of Warringah, Peter Costello’s Seat of Higgins, Brendan Nelson’s Seat of Bradfield, Andrew Peacock’s/Petro Georgiou’s Seat of Kooyong, Andrew Thomson’s/Peter King’s Seat of Wentworth and Julie Bishop’s Seat of Curtin. The latter 9 prominent MHRs being of the Liberal stripe.
The Labor campaign – in cahoots with the ‘YES’ case being prosecuted by the ARM heavy- handed and misinforming duo of Malcolm Turnbull and Greg Barns – was woeful.
Sure, the (then) Prime Minister – on the scheming Nick Minchin’s advice – ‘muddied the waters’ especially when he initiated a second referendum for the occasion. Certainly, also, The Tone came out on the side of the main Opposition body: Australians for Constitutional Monarchy who prosecuted the ‘NO’ case. However, since he used to be on the ACM’s payroll as it’s National Convenor this was hardly surprising. The Tone has to be ‘credited’ with the strategically effective ‘Don’t Know – Vote NO’ slogan which was, in the final summing up, a major determinant in the approximate 55%:45% loss.
The ‘NO’ Republicans – who treacherously sided with the monarchists – didn’t help, that is a given, but it must be remembered – and faced openly and honestly – that the Liberal Party and Government had a neutral policy apropos The Australian Republic and it mostly ‘ran dead’.
The State (then) that carried the most Federal electorates – with 18 – the most successful of the Federation, was Victoria. The Grand Southern State of Victoria came quite close to carrying for ‘YES’ with the 2 (then) Federal electorates comprising the Australian Capital Territory actually carrying the ‘YES’ vote making the ACT the ONLY positive jurisdiction in the country, first time around.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS for a MODERN NATION
The Sydney Morning Herald Editorial of Thursday, 6 November 2014 delivered a fitting testimonial to the recently-deceased former Labor Prime Minister and Statesman, Gough Whitlam. It was a ‘warts ‘n’ ALL’ objective assessment of what Whitlam’s legacy might be and mean for future Australians. It is worth re-writing some of this meaningful testimonial because it clearly and distinctively resonates. The Editorialist wrote: “Many of Whitlam’s grand ideas for constitutional reform – especially a Republic – remain beyond reach…even in his subsequent years (to his dismissal year of 1975) he recognised Australians could not crash OR crash through on an issue like the Head-of-State…Yes, he appeared with (his adversary, former Liberal Prime Minister) Malcolm Fraser in an advertisement for the ‘YES’ case in the 1999 republic referendum yet in 2008 he insisted Australians were likely to support a republic only after the death of the queen”. The Editorialist opined, further: “It’s time, Whitlam might say, to revive the discussion about how our Head-of-State is chosen – to ensure that the people of Australia are involved in the decision-making of our land and to make Australia confident of its future in our region and in the world. Given Whitlam’s caution (latterly) in not blaming the queen for his dismissal and for his goodwill and respect for due process in what John Faulkner described as his being a ‘staunch constitutionalist’, Australians would do well to disentangle the republican debate from his (i.e. Whitlam’s) 1975 dismissal.”
ALL Republican recipients of this report may come along to the next Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM #12) of The RPA.
Venue: The Epping Club, Rawson Street, Epping 2121 from 7.30pm Wednesday 25 February, 2015.