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ACM Home arrow Convenor's Column arrow The politicians and republicanism

The politicians and republicanism Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Thursday, 11 October 2007

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[ The Prime Minister is on the left of The King, who is seated ]

 

I believe that the Labor Party will eventually return to supporting the monarchy. After all, all the great Australian Labor leaders were constitutional monarchists. But just think, Labor has reversed its thinking in some very fundamental ways over the years.

 Labor was, for example, once the strongest proponent in the early Federation Parliaments of the White Australia Policy. Then for many years Labor clung to her socialist objective, but then led the privatisations of vast amounts of government assets , even the Commonwealth Bank. 

I think that when Labor realises that it benefits from the central institution, the Australian Crown which is above politics, as much as any party, and when it realises the electorate is quite stubborn about this, we shall see a change. 

 As for the Liberal republicans, they do have the serious problem that their great founder, Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, was a most committed constitutional monarchist. One of the silliest things Amanda Vanstone ever uttered was that if the great man were alive today, he would be a republican. 

At least Labor, quite wrongly in my view, blames 1975, although Sir David Smith has documented countless occasions when Labor also tried to bring down the Coalition by refusing supply.

In any event, the Liberals republicans are either after more power, and therefore to be refused, or they are opportunists who thought they could jump on the winning bandwagon , or they just do not understand the Constitution. Perhaps at times they are all three.



...Churchill, Clemenceau or Guizot...

As I was thinking about this, I could not help but recall the old  saying “ A man who is not a socialist at 20 has no heart; a man who is a socialist at thirty has no brain.”

I have seen this attributed to Churchill, and at times Shaw. Actually it comes through the French statesman, Georges Clemenceau, who said: 

Ne pas être un socialiste à vingt est preuve de veulent du coeur ; être un à trente est preuve de veulent de la tête.” – “Not to be a socialist at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head.”

But Clemenceau took it from that extraordinarily gifted Prime Minister of King Louis Philippe, François Guizot , who said:

Ne pas être un républicain à vingt est preuve de veulent du coeur ; être un à trente est preuve de veulent de la tête” which means “ A man who is not a republican at 20 has no heart; a man who is a republican at 30 has no brain.” 

 On reading a little more about the quite extraordinary Guizot, who was a gifted and prolific writer, elected to the Académie Française, I ascertained that his father had been executed by the republicans during the reign of terror . He was suspected of being a federationist.

Now you wouldn’t find too many Australian politicians who would die for federation, would you?  

 

 
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