Republicans Divided Over Commonwealth
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Tuesday, 22 November 2005

While some republicans have decided to politicise the Commonwealth Games, the agenda of others is not only that we should leave The Commonwealth; it’s to kill it off.

The republicans are more often than not divided over most things, although they once reached near unanimity on one.

This was before they lost the 1999 referendum, when most republicans were dead set against our Australian flag. Many despised it, and they did not hide their feelings. And it's all on record.

Now some want to keep it-at least they say they want to keep it. Others prudently say it's another issue.

In any event Steve Lewis, writing in The Australian on 22 November, 2005, has come out against The Commonwealth.

But on reading this you have to suspect that this was just a “teaser” for the real thrust of his piece.

This was to tell us that a hopelessly divided cross-party group of federal MPs is about to rekindle debate about a republic. This is hardly news.

We have been told repeatedly by an excited agenda driven media that next week the MP's will launch a new “forum” to promote “the virtues of an Australian head of state”.

If those MP’s bothered to read Sir David Smith’s authoritative, superbly researched volume, Head of State, which the Hon. Bill Hayden launched this month, they would realize we already have one.

No one has adequately answered that.

And in any event , the three co–conveners of this “forum” have completely different ideas about a republic.

And they will never agree on the form of a republic. Never.

Liberal senator Mitch Fifield, “a close mate of Peter Costello” wants to go back to the 1999 failed “politicians’ republic”- the Keating-Turnbull model.

The other two want any old republic which they can, by hook, crook or plebiscite get past the people.

Labor's shadow attorney-general Nicola Roxon has to follow her leader, and will openly support the direct election Latham-Beazley model.

This is anathema to most Liberal republicans, and quite a few in the ALP, including the Hon. Bob Carr. (I am assuming that Her Majesty has granted his request to keep his imperial prenominal, "The Honourable").

Former Australian Democrats' leader Natasha Stott Despoja also favours the Latham-Beazley model.

But her tactics are different. She doesn’t think anyone should be told that the cascading series of plebiscites and referenda she and the ARM want is designed to get this model up.

It is likely this group will prove to be as totally unworkable as the Vote Yes committee was in 1999-and they were agreement on the model they were all campaigning for then!

But Mr Lewis thinks they will “serve an important role if they can better inform the public on the merits of Australia ditching its historical allegiances to the Crown and striking out as a proudly independent republic.”

We don’t know what myths dominate the thoughts of the Canberra the Press Gallery, but the Australia we know is already, and has long been, proud and independent.

Until next time,
David Flint