By Liam Garman
Year in, year out, we see the Australian Republican Movement hijack public holidays and national events with the sole intention of forcing their dogmatic ideology onto normal Australians and to further the debate regarding an obscene cause. On Australia Day as if like clockwork, calls will be made to change the flag and change our government by the self-seeking social elite and the biased, power hungry press. The tradition repeats itself on ANZAC day and the Queen’s birthday long weekend – days which are integral to us as Australians, and days which the republican TV presenters nt to see replaced. What reasons do we have to become a republic? Republicans sum up their argument in two words ‘Our identity’. A profoundly flawed and pathetic argument. Our identity, as the Prime Minister suggests, comprises of two parts. The first: our British history and culture and the second being the history and culture of the First Australians. Our identity will never be non-British, just as it will never be non-multicultural and non-Aboriginal. There are two reasons as to why any argument to make Australia a republic is selfish and outright detrimental to our country: pragmatism and culture.
What can we learn from the US government shutdown?
The problems with having a politicised head of state and a politicised legislature are best observed in the recent US government shutdown. The result of this shutdown was resoundingly inconclusive. So much so that after half a month, there were no policy changes and the same government continued ruling. Congress’ approval stayed at 11% and Obama’s approval rating was the same as President Bush’s at the same point in their career (roughly 42%). I stress that after the shutdown nothing in the US changed. Debt has continued to grow unchecked and people are being forced to political extremes to protect their liberties in the face of an ‘imperial president’ (words rightly taken from conservative Ben Shapiro). This indecisive shutdown was purely as a result of a partisan President in control of a partisan government.
This bears next to no resemblance to the dismissal of the Whitlam government. Regardless of whether or not one is fond of Gough Whitlam, an election was undoubtedly necessary after supply was blocked. What ensued was a neutral Governor-General calling a fair and democratic election. A month after the dismissal, there was a new Liberal government elected in a landslide (with a gain of 30 seats against the incumbent Labor government). Our constitutional monarchy has proven to be more stable and democratic than most republics. Even if one is a fan of Whitlam, you cannot be against the election – for that is the basis of democracy. I pose the question – what can we do when supply is blocked without a neutral Governor General? In the case of the US, Obama’s ideological dogmatism has sent the US spiralling into political extremism and he is increasingly employing his executive powers to overcome the deadlock. The same will happen in Australia, where either both the Prime Minister and the President will be cronies in bed together allowing a myriad of unethical laws to be passed or the opposite: nothing will be passed.
What is the best referendum question? One that is really representative?
It is somewhat worrying when the republican ‘elite’ call for a referendum – when their own supporters cannot make up their mind as to what model the republic should be based off. We either have the option of a directly elected president or a president who is elected by parliament – and the ARM cannot agree amongst its own supporters as to which it should be. If we adopt the model whereby the president is elected by the parliament, there is no point in having a check and balance system. There is no check, there is no balance, and what ensues is an inherently biased president. The direct election of a president is not any better, where a president has the political and moral authority to intervene in politics and can cause a second powerbase set up opposite the Prime Minister and the authority of the parliament. But what is the ideal referendum question? Surely, the only fair referendum question would be: Should Australia become a republic or retain the monarchy? With the three options as follows:
- Retain the monarchy
- Become a republic with a direct election of a president
- Become a republic with a president appointed by parliament.
If the question is dichotomised, as one of Monarchy vs. Republican, then everyone who voted for the Monarch is therefore forced to choose a style of republic which they do not actually want. Therefore only a minority of people will support both: Australia becoming a republic and the particular method of electing a president. Hence, a two question referendum is undemocratic and biased toward a pro-republican model. Of course, this all presupposes the necessity of a referendum, something that is by no means unanimous – the inability of republicans to accept their lost cause and their arrogance in defying the will of the people is further evidence of the contempt for which republicanism holds Australian people and their democratic decisions. The ARM lost the debate. Isn’t it a wonderful thing to see the social elite promote the democratic virtue of a republic decide to ignore the express wishes of the Australian people
The social elite and c-list media personalities habitually throw vitriolic insults toward the royal family thinking the nastier they act the ‘funnier’ it is. These unfounded and ad hoc attacks usually do more harm than good to the republican cause and show that the Mike Carltons of Australia are no more than children flipping over a monopoly board after they start losing.
‘But… but… but… Australia isn’t British!’
Unlike what many teachers and academics would have you think, we do in fact trace our judicial and legislative lineage back to Britain. Australian history didn’t start in 1986 or 1901 but we are a continuation of hundreds of years of British history. This is reflected in our language, customs, bicameral parliament, the check and balance system between our parliament and our monarch, our judicial system and our armed forces. Moreover, we owe much of our stability and concept of personal liberty to our British heritage. The Monarchy is as much part of Australia as it is part of Britain and our unique relationship with the royal family is uniquely Australian!
‘A republic is a natural progression for Australia’
I have always found it odd when people try and suggest that our constitution is fluid and that becoming a republic is the next step for Australia. Monarchism is ingrained in the bones of our country, and cannot be moved. Over the last 113 years, young men and women have joined the military in defence of the liberty and freedom of not just Australia but of the Commonwealth as a whole. With ‘God Save the King’ booming from their mouths and a burning love for the Empire in their collective heart, they signed up despite danger and heartache. Instead of patriotism being pride in the achievements of your fellow man throughout the Commonwealth whether in India, Singapore, New Zealand or further abroad – we have a vitriolic Australian-centric patriotism which denies praise to our friends and allieserseas. Strengthening ties with our friends across the Commonwealth is progress for Australia, while republicanism is a step back and a direct insult to our forefathers.
‘We need to become a republic to atone for our colonial wrongdoings’
It is necessary to also address the suffering of the First Australians. One argument that many republicans bleat is that Australia must become a republic to atone for the suffering of the Indigenous population. I do not for one second pretend that great injustices haven’t happened since 1788 and I commend the Australian people for taking steps to undo the wrongs that have been done. However, King George III actively campaigned against these wrongs. Conveniently, parliamentarians around the world have sidelined the role of the monarch in order to strengthen their own positions and give themselves more power oftentimes doing so in a way that hurts the indigenous population.
‘You are to endeavour by every possible means to open an Intercourse with the Natives and to conciliate their affections, enjoining all Our Subjects to live in amity and kindness with them. And if any of Our Subjects shall wantonly destroy them, or give them any unnecessary Interruption in the exercise of their several occupations. It is our Will and Pleasure that you do cause such offenders to be brought to punishment according to the degree of the Offence.’
– King George III’s instructions to Governor Phillip, 25th April 1787
This was a King who wanted peaceful relations between the Indigenous population and British colonists. This same King called for equality between First Australians and British subjects under law, instructing Governor Philip to allow the local Indigenous population continue their ‘occupations’ without the colonists mistreating them. He even refers to the settlement as a neighbourhood, in which both populations could live in peace. This quotation is directly opposed to what many prominent ARM apparatchiks commonly argue. In fact, the first Indigenous Australian in Federal Parliament Neville Bonner, argued that the President wouldn’t ‘care one jot more for my people.’ Neville Bonner stood in defence of our constitutional monarchy, was one of the founding members of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy and ‘his speech to the 1998 Constitutional Convention was the only one to attract a standing ovation.’ (ACM).
The side effects of the war raged by the ARM
It doesn’t take long to see that most republicans in Australia are inherently racist and sectarian unto themselves. Although this view may not be held by the ARM, many republicans have snorted ‘but don’t you want an Australian born head of state?’ However, it is argued by many that the governor-general is our head of state. In which case – most of the time they are Australian born.
Another favourite is the saying is ‘The Queen of England’. Under the Australia Act she is officially known as the Queen of Australia. She is as much the Queen of Australia as any other country. (Dear Mr FitzSimons it is obvious that you have a huge anti-English chip on your shoulder but I would really appreciate it if you did not bring your racism into my country of birth – the last time I called you out on your racism you insulted me and brushed me off).
Some may not agree, but we all owe our freedom to the unwritten constitution that pre-existed our own. While serfs were extorted and maltreated throughout the world, the Magna Carta protected the basic civil liberties and rights of common English citizens. While torture was used throughout Europe in trials to obtain confessions, this seldom touched England’s shores. Habeas corpus gave us the basic right of trial long before notions of liberty touched other peoples’ mind. The English Bill of Rights outlines the rights of each man regardless of what the crown tries to impose upon them – giving men the right to bear arms to defend people against monarchical tyranny. It is these documents, not a UN charter, that give us our liberties. We are a continuation of thousands years of English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh history. Vivat Regina.
‘For every monarchy overthrown the sky becomes less brilliant, because it loses a star. A republic is ugliness set free.’
Liam Garman is a second year Bachelor of Commerce student