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Prince William in Australia
Mass conversion? Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Monday, 18 January 2010

Are we about to see a mass conversion of Australia’s republicans, even before Prince William has landed on our shores? After Ita Buttrose, the well known former Liberal politician Ross Cameron has renounced the republicanism which he revealed to a surprised National Conference of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy soon after the referendum.

Expecting to hear a defence of our constitution from a supportive politician, the delegates were surprised to hear Mr. Cameron say that the constitutional monarchy could not be defended and that a republic was inevitable. ACM, he said, should no longer spend its time defending our doomed constitutional monarchy. Instead it should design a republican constitution which was as good as the existing system.

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Unsurprisingly the delegates unanimously rejected this invitation, and wrote Mr. Cameron off as a convert republican.

So it is delightful to read Mr. Cameron’s argument for the retention of our crowned republic in The Sydney Morning Herald on 18 January. The title of his piece, “Princely magnetism could swing views on monarchy“ suggests that it is Prince William who has  triggered Mr. Cameron’s conversion.  

In inviting Prince William to enjoy his stay, Mr. Cameron says that the strongest impulse to retain the present arrangements will possibly come not from ‘any theoretical considerations’. Rather it could come from his ‘understated magnetism and affability’.

“ William seems to have inherited many of the qualities that made his mother the most universally loved person of the late 20th century,” he says “ I for one am happy to extend a warm welcome to a young man who is both a friend to and an asset of Australia.”




...misrepresentation...





This is fine stuff for constitutional monarchists.  But why did Mr, Cameron have to spoil it by misrepresenting their lead organisation? In arguing that the visit of Prince William is an opportunity to restate the case for limited monarchy, he adds “ One can be forgiven for ambivalence towards our system since its defenders at the last referendum, Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, ran a dishonest but winning campaign. By campaigning on ‘Not this republic’, it admitted defeat on the core principle and damaged the credibility of its good cause.”

ACM did no such thing. ACM’s arguments were based on a defence of our constitutional system and a comparison with the model offered.

If Mr. Cameron had checked the records, he would have seen that those republicans who rejected the model on offer argued that the existing system was better than the flawed model on offer.  These republicans wanted the president to be elected by the people, but they were in a distinct minority at the Convention, including a minority of the elected republican delegates.   When the government established the Yes and No Committees to administer the funding for the two cases, they did so on the basis of votes for the Convention. ACM therefore receive eight of the seats on the No committee, and the direct elect republicans, two. Their common position was opposition to the 1999 model.



..separate campaign...



 

In the meantime ACM ran a completely separate campaign about the advantage of our present system.

Of course it is always open to Parliament to call another referendum, but ACM’s case was always opposition to any politicians’ republic.  But at no time did ACM run a dishonest campaign. As John Howard said recently, ACM acted entirely properly in the referendum campaign.
Is Mr Cameron’s conversion, coming so soon after Ms. Buttrose’s volte face, an indication of what is about to happen to the depleted republican movement?  Are we about to see a mass conversion?

   
 
Prince William: The Diary Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Monday, 18 January 2010


Tuesday, 19 January:



Prince William arrives at Sydney Airport

Noon: Kirribilli - Admiralty House. Lunch with the Governor-General. Guests will include prominent young Australians.

Afternoon: Sydney. Visit to the Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Centre.

The Centre runs day classes, after-school classes and activities and many other drop-in services for all ages.

Afternoon: Sydney City - Prince William will call on the Governor of New South Wales, Dr Marie Bashir at Government House.

Evening: Private



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Wednesay, 20 January:

Morning: Holsworthy. Tour of Army Barracks. Join 3rd Battalion - the Royal Australian Regiment. Participate in live fire training at the marksmanship training range at the Barracks. Meet privately with Special Operations Command soldiers.

Morning: Sydney Harbour - Visit the CSIRO environmental research ship Southern Surveyor. Meet with scientists and view marine science technology oceans.

Noon: Sydney City Barbeque lunch in the Royal Botanic Gardens hosted by Kristina Keneally, Premier of New South Wales. Emphasis will be on young people.

Afternoon : Private





Thursday, 21 January:




Morning: Visit to Bushfire affected areas. Meet with emergency services.

Community event. Meet with people who lost their homes in the tragedy.
Plant a tree as a symbol of new growth.
Attend barbeque and local sports match.

Afternoon: Visit rebuilt educational centre.

Afternoon: Melbourne City - Call on the Governor of Victoria, Prof. David de Kretser, at Government House, Melbourne. Attend Governor's Australia Day reception with Hon. John Brumby, Premier of Victoria. Plant tree in grounds of Government House.

Evening: private

 
Republican Celebrity Converts: Prince William effect Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Monday, 18 January 2010

Prince William’s coming visit seems to have resulted in the dramatic conversion of a republican celebrity. This is the  editor and media personality Ms. Ita Clare Buttrose AO OBE, who campaigned for the politicians’ republic during the 1999 referendum. Readers of the Wentworth Courier, which circulates in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, were surprised then by her harsh dismissal of the No case and indeed of constitutional monarchists.

Ms Buttrose was the founding editor of Cleo which, with its nude male centrefolds, was aimed at young single women. She later edited the more conservative Australian Women's Weekly and the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs. In 2009, the Friends of the National Library offered a dinner to honour her impressive achievements in the world of publishing and journalism.



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[ Ms. Ita Buttrose AO MBE ]


 

...commentary from a carriage...




She was chosen by Channel 9 to present its broadcast of the wedding of Prince Charles to Diana, Princess of Wales. Ms. Buttrose  delivered her lines regally seated in a carriage. Hence Australians were somewhat surprised when she later declared her staunch republicanism.

But  there will be immense sadness today in the diminished Australian republican camp, which long ago lost its celebrity appeal and called off the candlelit dinners in five star hotels. How different it was at the 1998 Constitutional Convention when  the republican leaders were holed up in the five star Hyatt Hotel, and ACM was out in the suburbs in a comfortable motel - with the rank and file.

In any event, by her enthusiastic endorsement of Prince William on Channel 9 on Friday 15 January, it seems that Ms. Buttrose has come back to the monarchy.

Welcome back, Ita.  Perhaps you will be presenting the next royal wedding  from your carriage.




...do your homework first, please...




 

As a royalist again, Ms. Buttrose  could have a word to Telegraph journalist, the aristocratically named  Sarrah Le Marquand.  Ms. Le Marquand's  republican piece “Time to talk republic long overdue” was prominently published in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph (16/1) just on the eve of Prince William’s visit.

 

Ms. Le  Marquand should be politely advised that it is wise to know your subject before writing on it. Calling for an  immediate end to our crowned republic, she claims “we don't need to continue picking up the tab for the lavish lifestyle of the Windsor family to enjoy the occasional spectacle of a royal wedding”.  




...we will  make a big profit ....


 

First we pay nothing for the Windsor Family’s life style which, is pretty abstemious. In any event, the Royal Family pays for itself, the Crown Estate more than covering funds provided by the British Government, not as salaries, but for state  expenses properly incurred.  This also covers the running costs of The Queen of Australia, for which, Ms Marquand, we pay nothing.

There is another factor which trumps the predicable republican whingeing over the  costs of a visit being paid mainly by The Queen. Tourism returns for a Royal Visit are substantial – Australia gets worldwide attention at this time, and unlike tourism advertisements, it is free.

Tourism Australia spent about $100 million on tourism promotion last year, the industry earning about $25 billion from overseas tourism.  Professor Noel Cox from Monarchy New Zealand points out  a single full page advertisement in The Times in London is expensive – Aus$45,000. 

The Prince‘s forthcoming visit is already getting British and worldwide media attention even before he arrives.  And this is free.  We and New Zealand will do very well out of Prince William, who is fitting this in while on leave from the armed forces.

“If we were going to pay for this kind of advertisement, it would cost a fortune,” says Professor Cox. “No matter how you look at this, it’s good news for New Zealand. Bringing Prince William here will put New Zealand in front of millions of readers, viewers, and listeners all over the world. Some of them are going to follow in his footsteps.”

What is the betting Prince William's visit will be more effective in bringing in tourists to Australia than that curious campaign  "Where the bloody hell are you?"




Image
[ Prince William...tourist promotion ]

 


...stop those  taxpayer subsidies to the republicans...





  

And as for “picking up the tab”,just  when are we going to stop diverting money from schools, hospitals, transport and water into the endless votes, inquiries, reports, investigations, and creeping republicanism – the attempts to hide and change royal symbols in contempt of the 1999 vote.

At great cost to the taxpayer the republicans were given a free hand to choose their best model. But the people rejected that nationally, in all states and in 72% of electorates.  That should be an end to it for the taxpayers. Let the republicans pay for the work they stll haven't done on a republican model. 

What Ms Le Marquand fails even to attempt to explain are:


(a) just  what is wrong with one of the world’s most successful constitutions,


(b) how she proposes that will  be remedied,
 

( c) what new flag  she is proposing and


(d) how much this will cost.

She should check her facts and put some thought into these preliminary matters before she bursts into print on something for which she is manifestly unprepared. 



[This piece appeared in The Punch, 18 January, 2010]  

    




 
Prince William Down Under: Sky UK Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Sunday, 17 January 2010

"Why is he coming?”  Mike Keating, leader of Australia’s republican movement, asked Sarah Hughes, Sky UK’s Royal correspondent, “William Down Under For First Official Tour “ (16/1).  “ He's not the first in line to the throne. He knows nothing about Australia, on his own acknowledgement.”

“"I'm not sure when he's coming,” Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told Sky while he was at the recent Copenhagen summit on global warming. “ But I'll say hi and I'll buy him a beer or two."

Image
[ Prince William...service}
 

A "vox pop" in the streets and at the beach indicated interest and approval of the Prince. 

David Flint, of the campaign group Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, told Ms. Hughes: "He could very easily be a playboy prince. "But he is a young man who has eschewed leisure and taken up service."He has given himself to serve in the Armed Forces and also in relation to a number of very important charities."Mr Flint added: "I think Australians will react very well and will very much like Prince William.

Sydney is planning for crowds, reported the very elegant Ms.Hughes. The New South Wales Tourism Minister Jodi MacKay told her the Prince has  "global pull" and said the city is expecting some "Prince William mania".

As ACM has pointed out, the tourism returns from the visit will be substantial for Australia.

Ms. Hughes reports that the Prince  is  said to be excited about the trip, having heard much about Australia from his father and his brother Harry, who spent part of his gap year there.His advisers are adamant he is not visiting the country to drum up support for the monarchy, or to get embroiled in politics.

It is, they say, simply a chance for him to get to know Australia and its people - and vice versa. “After all, one day he could be their king.”

 
 
Prince William and the politicians Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Wednesday, 13 January 2010

How times change. The Australian press has been full of favourable stories about a Royal Visit. Andrew Hornery’s social column in The Sydney Morning Herald ( 8/1) demonstrates the continuing proof of that long standing warning from constitutional monarchists. “Never stand between Australian republicans- especially ones from Sydney – and visiting Royalty. If you do, you’ll be knocked down in the rush.” 

We should stress at this point that as with other members of the Royal Family, Prince William clearly leaves the question of any proposed constitutional change where it should be - with the Australian people. As with The Queen and his father, he is not here to campaign, just to do his duty as long as we wish the Royal Family to continue.  

But to return to the Herald, Mr. Hornery’s theme is, I assume, exciting for readers of his column, “PS”.  This is that from details of private entertainment for the Prince while he is in Sydney, social rank in the city and even the nation will be established for many a year. For good reason his piece is headed; “ Now we’ll find out who’s who”.

 

  

News Limited’s outlets have a piece by David Murray which, in Melbourne’s Herald Sun ( 10/1), came out under the headline “Prince William is the popular face of the royals with the future monarchy on his shoulders”.  It is a fair piece on the Prince.




...."unstoppable push" for a politicans' republic.... 




But at one point Mr. Murray repeats the line “It's widely assumed, too, that Charles's succession would herald an unstoppable push for a republic in Australia.” This line now pushed ad finitum by republican politicians.  Just that would put the wary on guard - remember they thought they had it in the bag in 1999, a much more auspicious time for change. The politicians who push this line do so principally for two reasons.

 First, because they full well know that a second referendum is even more doomed than in 1999.  That is why they the republican movement is trying to get the politicians to hold a series of non- binding, spin doctored plebiscites to soften the ground.

But the republican movement is even less prepared than they were in 1999. They can’t even say what sort of republic they want. As  David Koch told them on Channel 7 when they launched their embarrassing campaign for a “Mate a Head of State”, if they can’t say what they have in mind, they should  go away and work that out beforehand.




...end-of-the-reign silver bullet...





Malcolm Turnbull was one of the republican politicians favouring the wait-until-the-end-of-the-reign thesis, adding two other caveats.

These were there had to be consensus on a model, which remains unachieved, and opposition would need to be minimal. Australians for Constitutional Monarchy  – who brought out over 50,000 supporters in 1999 - reminded him that opposition would be formidable. Malcolm Turnbull should know.  He led the republicans at the barricades in 1999.

In any event the boast the republican movement has been making that both the PM and the alternative are republicans is no longer true. Tony Abbott is now the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Australian Opposition. Before he went into Parliament he was Executive Director of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy.  A claim to being a lifelong monarchist by Tony Abbott would have the ring of truth.

The second reason the republican politicians talk about the end of the current reign as the time to revive a move to a politicians' republic is this.  They do not expect to be in Parliament then. Instead, all or most of them will be enjoying their generous retirement entitlements.  They will not have to explain themselves.

In  any event the republicanism of many of the politicians is probably nominal. An example from Malcolm Turnbull will suffice. He says it is curious that the Prime Minister purports to be a "lifelong republican", but was curiously absent from the republican barricades in 1999.

in the meantime,  Her Majesty appears to be in excellent health, and most likely to be Queen for many years. And it is said that she is not impressed with those early abdications on the Continent. The difference is that she, alone in the world, is like Solomon – an anointed sovereign whose duty is to reign. And unlike some of her republican politicians, Her Majesty regards an Oath as something between her and God, and consequently to be honoured.




...Prince William...




When some time ago a story was released by a transatlantic social journalist suggesting Prince William was interested in becoming Governor-General, I found considerable interest among the young, including young journalists. The instant dismissal of this by both the then PM and the Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd attracted little support. My impression was that the young found the prospect very interesting.

When I pointed out that the Palace would not allow the Prince to accept the post if it were offered without some guarantee they would not misbehave as in 1975, one reader whom I had assumed was a republican criticised me for cutting off the debate about what he saw an interesting proposal.   

In the meantime it would be foolish for republicans to bank on the end of the reign delivering them some politicians’  republic. Their last silver bullet – Prince Charles’ marriage – dissolved when people realised that the Duchess of Cornwall did not have two heads. In fact the number of Australians who watched the marriage- at a time on a Sunday morning when most are either in bed or out raging - indicated a considerable interest in the Royal Family.



...republicans misunderstand Australian character...




And the idea that people would turn on Prince Charles at the end of the reign indicates a complete misunderstanding of the Australian character. As Australians learn more about Charles' tireless work for good causes, and the fact that he raises about half a billion a year for his charities, they will conclude, as one hitherto sceptical Fairfax journalist did some time ago, he would make a good King.

The end of the reign, a moment of sadness and of deep respect will lead to one of the largest media retrospectives known. This will gradually turn into excitement across the Commonwealth and beyond over the coronation and also about the new Prince of Wales.  The magic of monarchy will of course swamp any small minded petty calls for Australia to become some undefined politicians’ republic. . The confidence Australians have in their constitutional system will more than reinforce that.  

 
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