State of The REPUBLICAN Nation Report #4 of August, 2015
Writer: PETER CONSANDINE
MOVEMENT at the STATION!
No-one could have been as delighted as the Writer at the news of the Australian Republican Movement’s renaissance. In the space of a couple of months – June and July 2015 – the ARM installed Tim Mayfield as its National Director and Peter Fitzsimons as its Chair(man). The record of the Writer’s summit meeting in the Melbourne CBD on 22 July with the former may be viewed on The Republican Party of Australia’s website [www.therepublicans.com.au]. In more ways than one it is savvy of the ARM to have its 2 leaders stationed in the 2 major Australian capital cities – one in each – of Melbourne and Sydney, respectively.
The OZ REPUBLIC-by-DEFAULT CAMPAIGN CONSOLIDATED
Further to the ‘Test Drive’ in Tasmania last October, the Launches have taken place in Victoria in January and in Western Australia in March with a doubling UP effort in Victoria also in March. Supporters Meetings have been held in Adelaide as a precursor to an official South Australian Launch and Tamworth, New England, as a precursor to a South Eastern Queensland Launch up until late May. There was a delay until the present time so that it could be ascertained whether or not the ARM would join forces with the RPA and handle the New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory chapters. And, being as the ARM shall soon establish what will constitute the new direction of its organisation, The RPA is, alas, ‘on its own’. The Writer will probably ‘die on the job’ because this is the toughest campaign of ALL – the Writer can verily attest. The RPA can ONLY prosecute the State-by-State Republics Campaign on an incremental basis – with Victoria, of necessity, to be prioritised and to get the most attention. Moreover, as New South Wales is where The RPA itself is strongest, as far as can be projected forward, The Party will predominantly champion the Direct Election model for the Australian Presidency with an attendant Australian Charter of Rights, Freedoms, Values, Choices and Responsibilities in the First State. In tandem, of course, with a continuing complementary campaign to replace the Queen’s Birthday holiday with a uniform Wattle Day national public holiday on 1st September, each year.
The FEDERAL LABOR PARTY SETS TARGETS
On the opening day of the triennial Labor Party National conference (held in Melbourne over 24-26 July) the Federal Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, declared that his Labor government would deliver a plebiscite on the republic in 2020 and an actual republic no later than 5 years from then – in 2025. This prediction fits seamlessly in with the enunciated agendas of the Labor Front Group: Labor for an Australian Republic and the separate-but-allied Australian Republican Movement. ALL very aspirational – and a far cry from the ‘Elizabethan Republican’ sentiments expressed by former Labor Prime Ministers
K-Rudd, Juliar Gillard and Bob Hawke many times over. However, it is extremely implausible for a discredited politician and disreputable ex-trade unionist such as Shorten to make such vows. One detects diversionary tactics. Indeed, it is disgusting to the Writer if Shorten – for expedient reasons – is using the republic for his own ends and kicking-off a dumbing down, unspecified program of re-hashed policy to differentiate himself from The Tone – a hardline monarchist opponent who really knows how to divide and conquer on social and cultural matters. And, indubitably, how to use sloganeering to enormous effect. Tony Abbott’s Liberal/National incumbent government is already telegraphing the ‘Bill Shorten is carrying too much baggage’ repeated-often message. What’s more, it is evident that the flailing Australian government has already commenced its 2016 re-election campaign and, now – late in the mid-term of what may well be a third-in-a-row one-term Conservative government – has not one but two double dissolution triggers which – at a time of its choosing – can be “fired” to top advantage. What Shorten fails to understand, methinks, is that the eventual second republican referendum cannot and must NOT fail to carry. It is just NOT an OPTION. Reflecting – with much regret and despondency – on the failed ARM ‘who do you wanna be’ campaign which was the costly brainchild, essentially, of the now-departed last National Director of the ARM, David Morris, it is probably as well that Shorten was projecting a long way ahead.
The JOHN DUNMORE LANG LEGACY
Co-Authors Archibald Gilchrist and Gordon Powell in their 1999 book ‘John Dunmore Lang: Australia’s Pioneer Republican’ fearlessly articulate their take on this great Scot-Australian of the 19th Century. Nicknamed ‘the Old Disturber’, Lang really only became an Australian Republican as a result of a quarrel over governance of church lands with one of the colonial governors – Thomas Brisbane. Gilchrist and Powell assert that Lang was more of a contributor to the achievement of democracy in Australia; insofar he was, in their considered view, a Royalist Republican which was what Henry Lawson became in the last 5 or so years of his life in the early 20th Century. Lang though, established a most colourful term in his writings viz: “Republic, a Call to Cut the Painter”.
Lang’s model for an Australian Republic was of the UPA variety – the United Provinces of Australia – much in the structure of the United States of America [USA] prior to the devastating Civil War [1861-1865] over there. Lang actually visited the young American Republic in 1840 and was enthused by his then findings. Lang, disappointingly had to abandon his push for an Australian Republic once he was imprisoned for Contempt of the NSW Colonial Court it must be noted with sheer disappointment. Indeed, from ALL accounts, he barely mentioned the Australian Republic in the last 20 years of his life (Lang died in 1878). However, we must pay him due credit for oft-times reiterating the wisdom of getting the timing right in regards to getting the Australian Republic. Lang was of the settled conviction that the only practicable form of governance for a free (that word!) and independent Australia was per the means of a republic – with popularly elected Australian native-born citizens as Heads-of-State. And lastly, Lang espoused the eminently sensible idea of electing the Presidency for a strictly limited 5-year term ONLY – a term NOT to be extended. Hear! Hear!! Coincidentally, Lang’s model for the Australian Republic is, for ALL intents and purposes, the basis of The Republican Party of Australia’s model (see The Republicans’ website).
UPDATES on the POTENTIAL CATALYSTS for the AUSTRALIAN REPUBLIC
The appropriate gong for Prince Charles in the Australia Day Honours List next January…is it to be the same award as that bestowed upon his father, Prince Philip – a knighthood – one conferred by Her Maj at Buckingham Palace, London, with Australia’ s High Commissioner to the UK, Alexander Downer, in attendance or something else? One imagines a hullabaloo, whatever.
The death of Prince Philip (now 94) whose scurrilous foul-mouthed, sexist public behaviour of late is becoming more than an international talking point – on top of the recent revelation that he’d been bonking the celebrated actress, Kay Kendall, not before he married Princess Elizabeth (“Lillibet”) but after she became the monarch and queen of the UK and the British Dominions.
The forensic verification that Prince Charles sired a 4th son – one Zac Efron – as a result of a dalliance with a New Orleans (America) prostitute circa 1988. It goes to show one can never tell…the British people may yet have an American king somewhere UP the line. There is, in the UK, a growing “Efron Faction”!
The erudite collective academic criticism of the constitutionality (but NOT legality) of Prince Charles’s civil wedding with Camilla Parker-Bowles and hence his right to succeed his mother on the British throne. Future British monarchs and commensurate Australian monarchs are going to be subject to the diktats of inexorable secularism in the UK on the one hand and the European Convention on Human Rights – to which the UK is a signatory – on the other. The UK being the last European country to maintain religious coronations, the once-powerful Coronation Act of 1688 is being challenged as an enduring albeit redundant symbol of the union between church & state. Australia needs to shore UP its constitutional destiny before the monarch dies lest the country has a constitutional crisis NOT of its own making!
Kate Middleton, the future queen of the UK and therefore Australia, has been ‘outed’ as a former lover
of black English actor, Wesley Snipes…ALL before Prince William’s time but scandalous, nonetheless.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS for a MODERN NATION
For a 5-week period between April and May of 2015 – lay time – I went with my partner, Jennifer, on a holiday to Central Europe. I visited 4 well-established modern republics (those of Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Germany) and 9 grand cities – ALL of them chock-full of amazing history. I have documented in 2 other places the sketchy highlights but I have left this following revelation until last: Being there – as a visitor in foreign democracies where both the language and the respective cultures were different to an Antipodean like me – there was an almost indescribable freedom to be experienced. Of course, I could converse with most locals in my mother tongue of English, but not once did I get a comment such as: “Oh, I wish I lived in a monarchy”. On the contrary, most locals who knew of the failed first referendum on the republic in Australia (on 6 November, 1999) – and a surprising number did – could not understand why we Australians did NOT grasp the opportunity, late last century. Well, 16 years on and a generation removed, it is – in the Writer’s mind at least: UNfinished Business!
PETER FITZSIMONS to ADDRESS The NPC
As this report ‘goes to press’ it has been announced that the very new Chairman of the ARM, Peter Fitzsimons, is to deliver a speech on the Republic to the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday, 26 August. Fitzsimons is an accomplished writer but yet to establish a reputation as a public speaker. A lot is riding on what is a ‘golden opportunity’. Fitzsimons, in his Fairfax Media column, The Fitz Files, on Sunday, 16 August joked about taking advantage of being in the same guest room as the former monarchist Prime Minister, John Howard, at a very recent Blediscoe Cup Rugby Union fixture and inviting Howard to become the ARM Patron. Naturally, he got a polite knock-back. Fitzsimons though, can be expected to get a more-than-fair hearing. After ALL, it is a long, long time [well over a decade] since a prominent Australian Republican ‘got a guernsey’ at the NPC.
ALL Republican recipients of this report may come along to the next Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM #14) of The RPA.
Venue: The Epping Club, Rawson Street, Epping NSW 2121 from 7.30pm, Wednesday 23 September, 2015