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The Forum > Article Comments > Unfinished business - the republican referendum ten years on > Comments

Unfinished business - the republican referendum ten years on : Comments

By Peter van Vliet, published 6/11/2009

The challenge to achieve a republic lies with the PM Kevin Rudd

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Born and bred in the UK I migrated to Australia because it seemed to be a very safe country to live in. The climate helped my decision.
My natural inclination is to maintain the status quo.
Living in the country, I like to live by the adage that, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
If a Republican can show me how the present system is broken I may change my mind. If the advantages of a Republic can be quantified in real terms, i.e., how it will be to my advantage, I will reconsider. If some of the deficiencies of Republics around the world, Idi Amin, George W. Bush, the host of African republics such as Zimbabwe who have Presidents with very human deficiencies are considered, there must be some huge advantages of which I am unaware.
Last time we were told that our trading partners preferred to deal with Republics. Last time I looked, Japan is a monarchy with a full blown Emperor.
Will someone tell me which Republic it is that has a better standard of living than Australia? Where can you guarantee that you can democratically get rid of a Government? Change a Leader without a bloody coup?
Sorry, Turnbull, Costello and the likes, you have to persuade me that I am going to be better off in the hip pocket before you will have my support.
Again I say. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Posted by phoenix94, Friday, 6 November 2009 7:40:29 AM
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The author gives no reason why a republic would be better in practice. The argument is that it would be better as a matter of symbolism.

However the least that would be needed to achieve a republic as a matter of symbolism would be to establish the republic in a separate act of the people, a separate declaration of independence and constitution, as it were.

This is because the Constitution of Australia is contained within an Act of the British Parliament. The Crown is one of the constituent parts of the legislative process. Therefore it would not be enough, in effect, to cross out the word "Governor-General" where it appears in the Australian Constitution, and substitute the word "President", because the President would still be deriving his original legal and moral authority from the amended Constitution, and the Constitution would still be deriving its original legal and moral authority from the British legislature which includes the Crown. Therefore to achieve the symbolic purpose of constituting a 'people's thing', it would need to come from a separate act of the people.

However if the purpose is to express the sovereignty of the people, why not cut out the middle man? Barnaby Joyce said, he doesn't need to go to Canberra, he can just vote from home using the internet. Well bully for you Barnaby - so can the rest of us! The excuse for the continued existence of Parliament has now disappeared. Let the law-making power be returned to its origin in the people, and abolish the parliaments.
Posted by Peter Hume, Friday, 6 November 2009 8:13:12 AM
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The Australian psyche is wildly sentimental.

I have seem real passion displayed to preserve cr*ppy old fibro buildings at great expense so as to preserve and display our heritage.

In some cases I feel is is like boasting that your grandmother was a prostitute.

While I have no love for the monarchy and personally have no desire to maintain the ties, my view is that there is little practical difference between what the republicans are proposing and what exists, and once the steps are taken they cannot be retraced.

In another decade there will be a whole new generation, and we can then ask them to decide. Until then we have more pressing issues upon which to spend our time and money.
Posted by Shadow Minister, Friday, 6 November 2009 9:12:33 AM
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Australians showed clearly what they thought of the idea of a republic at a referendum. They indicated that they did not trust the pro-republicans nor Australian politicians. There is no sign that minds have changed since that referendum. The fact that those in favour of a republic still drag up the silly idea at regular intervals shows their contempt for the electorate. They are not to be trusted - still!

A republic would be an expensive, dangerous nonsense in a politically stable Australia.
Posted by Leigh, Friday, 6 November 2009 10:11:15 AM
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Storm in a teacup in my opinion.
Posted by Phil Matimein, Friday, 6 November 2009 11:53:27 AM
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An opinion poll of 1,000 Australians taken in the past couple of weeks shows that:-
59% support a Republic, 33% oppose
73% favour a direct election for President by the people, 18% favour appointment by Parliament
82% of respondents agree that the 1999 referendum failed because wrong model (ie appointment by Parliament) was offered, 9% disagree
62% agree there should be a second referendum in the next term of Parliament between 2010 and 2013, 30% oppose
59% are uncomfortable with Prince Charles becoming head of state when QE2 is replaced, 28% comfortable.

On Thursday night on TV I saw a story about John Howard attending a meeting of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy where the audience sang the British national anthem. I know people like that. They are the 33%. They think that they are British. They have no allegiance to Australia. They are the type of people who cheered when England regained The Ashes. They cherish the Union Jack in the corner of the Australian flag. They love to curtsey to visiting royals.

They are the sort of people who suffer from constitutional amnesia when they claim that there is good governance in Australia because we have the Queen as our head of state. They forget that in the Queen's United Kingdom a civil war has raged for over 30 years in which more than 3,000 of Her Majesty's subjects died and more than 40,000 suffered terrible injuries. At they very heart of that civil war was (and still is) the Catholic/Protestant religious divide at the pinnacle of which sits the Protestant-only monarchy which forbids anyone of the Catholic faith from becoming monarch.

The simple truth of the matter is that the British monarchy with its inbuilt sectarian hatred and past strong links to the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler (Edward VIII - "Hitler is a great man and the saviour of Europe" and the Queen's Nazi in-laws and nephew Adolf) is incompatible with the Australian values of decency and the fair go.

Australia deserves better. Because we are Australians not South Pacific Poms
Posted by Roy McKeen, Friday, 6 November 2009 12:12:29 PM
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