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ACM Home arrow Convenor's Column arrow It is the constitution, not the magic of monarchy

It is the constitution, not the magic of monarchy
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Saturday, 05 March 2011

Why is it that the republican establishment does not see that the question of Australia becoming a politicians’ republic  raises essentially constitutional issues?

When ACM kept to those constitutional issues in the 1999 referendum debate, the ARM actually told us how to conduct the debate.

They accused us of "not mentioning The Queen."  

It would have been better for the ARM in 1999 if, rather than instructing us, they had run a more professional campaign, and avoided coming out with about five contradictory arguments about their model.

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In any event  we had already decided we would not rely on her impeccable service in an indispensable office.

After all Her Majesty had quite properly ruled that the question was for the Australian people to decide. Neither The Queen nor any member of the Royal Family entered the debate.

The republicans were of course shooting themselve sin the foot. They seem to have woken up only recently to the fact that The Queen is widely respected and very popular. Perhaps they spend too much time in republican inner city salons and not among the Australian people.





...republican racist attack - in 2011....




That did not stop the republicans attacking Her Majesty as the 'foreign' Queen, which she manifestly is not.  

The republican movement have a very narrow idea of what an Australian is.

In 2011 the ARM’s view is close to that of the old republican mouthpiece, The Bulletin. This declared on every front page, until the 1960’s, “Australia for the White Man".

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[ Republican journal The Bulletin, May 1886 ]
 

The ARM has recently suggested on their website that because they assess me as “ Indonesian born” with “perma-tan” coloured skin and as a “blow-in”, I should not speak on matters constitutional.





...republicans insult The Queen...





Not only did the republican movement  use the mantra ”the foreign Queen” in 1999, they astounded most Australians when their first chairman, Thomas Keneally, likened Her Majesty  to “a colostomy bag on the body politic”.





...changing the party line...






But having lost by a landslide  the referendum they assumed was unloseable, the republican politicians are now saying The Queen is too respected for them to win>

Now they are saying that they must not try this during her reign.

Apparently their 1999  loss was not caused by a trick question - which they overwehlmingly and unanimously approved - but by The Queen. 

So what will be their next excuse?






...monarchists  “too excited”...





 Instead of explaining to  the nation what new constitution and and what new flag they actually want, republicans continue to tell monarchists what to do and what not to do.

Recently, Jim Davidson, writing in The Spectator Australia  ( 26/2), complained that the constitutional monarchists are too excited about the award-winning film The King's Speech.

Davidson declared that King George VI  “certainly didn't think of himself as King of Australia...”

He doesn't explain how he knows what was on the mind of the monarch.

The fact is that Davidson knows as much about this as the royal watchers who invent – yes, invent – an infamous  “conversation” between The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on the referendum results.



 

....Davidson should check the facts...



In fact, Davidson is completely wrong. The King did think of himself as King of Australia. This is a matter of public record.


 

 

[Continued below]

He would have realised this had he checked the words actually used by the King on that most solemn of occasions, the Coronation Oath.

 In 1911, his father had promised to ”govern the peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the dominions thereto belonging, according to the statutes in Parliament agreed on and the respective laws and customs of the same."

But in 1936 King George VI promised to:

"govern the peoples of Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa, of your possessions and other territories to any of them belonging and pertaining, and of your Empire of India according to their respective laws and customs.”

This was recognition of the effect of the Statute of Westminster, and of the evolution of the Empire into the Commonwealth.

 King George VI knew he was separately King of Australia.

 A dutiful King, he swore to be precisely this. 




....splendid institution...




Davidson admits that “for all its faults the monarchy is a splendid institution...” but  he restricts that observation to Britain.

His reason for arguing for some vague politicians’ republic for Australia, Canada, New Zealand is that sharing a monarch is.... absurd.

Well, sixteen countries do this. Mr. Davidson may think this is absurd – his subjective view is of no constitutional relevance. 


You need something more solid than this marshmallow argument, Mr. Davidson.







...magic of monarchy...


 

Then he says monarchists have read rather too much into the popularity of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. He says that when Prince William is older this will fade away.

It is undeniable that there is a magic in monarchy. As Bagehot said:

To state the matter shortly, royalty is a government in which the attention of the nation is concentrated on one person doing interesting actions.

A Republic is a government in which that attention is divided between many, who are all doing uninteresting actions.

Accordingly, so long as the human heart is strong and the human reason weak, royalty will be strong because it appeals to diffused feeling, and Republics weak because they appeal to the understanding.




...republicans have not evn reached first base...

 

The fact is that monarchy has a wonderful way of constantly refreshing and reviving itself. There will always be considerable interest in young princes and princesses.  

When Prince William reigns over Australia as her King, Australians are sure to be interested in him, his Consort, the new Prince of Wales, The King's other children and his grandchildren, and Prince Harry's family.

In the meantime the many proposals –usually without the courtesy of detail – that we become a politicians’ republic raise essentially constitutional issues.

They have nothing to do with the qualities of the incumbent monarch or indeed the undoubted magic of monarchy.

Unless and until the republicans get around to producing a model which they can seriously argue is superior to the present constitutional system they will not have reached first base.

The same goes for Australian flag.


They will get nowhere with their stunts or indeed with their racist abuse. 




[25/2/2011]

 
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