Sunday, 14 October 2007

A Light In The South

The world will soon be rid of John Howard. Rejoice!

The incoming Australian Government will no doubt hold another referendum on abolishing the monarchy (any party has to appease certain interests), but will no doubt endure another No vote.

After all, by rejecting Howard, Australians will have rejected every anti-monarchist argument, not least "meritocracy" (that those with wealth and paper qualifications should determine merit, on the basis of wealth and paper qualifications), globalisation (with its erosion of national and local differences), and, within that, enforced conformity to the culture (in a horribly debased form) and to the geopolitical interests of the United States.

Nothing could better encapsulate that rejection than another vote to retain the institution that, across so many Realms and Territories, stands for and embodies something so much better, so much nobler, so much more humane. God Save The Queen!

And where is the Australian People's Alliance?

15 comments:

  1. Aussie Richard15 October 2007 11:41

    Yes, it looks like the Australian Labor Party will win in a landslide.

    The irony is that, if the expected Labor landslide happens, after the election one of the leading Mps in the Liberal Party will be Malcolm Turnbull. He was the head of....the Australian Republican Movement.

    Your assumption that Australians will vote "No", in support of the Monarchy is wrong. The previous republican referendum failed not because it was too radical but because it was not radical enough.

    The minimalist approach was put forward by the academics and MPs that the President be selected from a 2/3rds vote of Parliament.

    Polls consistently show that the vast majority of Australians want to vote to decide the President.

    Votes for the republic referendum were lowest in working class areas not because they were pro the monarchy but saw the model of offer as excluding them from the decision making process.

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  2. It's not ironic at all, it makes perfect sense.

    The option that you set out is never going to be on a ballot paper, so that's that. And even if it were, what makes anyone think that the working class would get any more of a look in? Do they in America? Do they in France? Never mind probably a non-executive, ceremonial figure on the Irish or German model.

    Any President of Australia, like any President of Britain, would be some middle-ranking Cabinet Minister from half a generation before, whom a lot of people had thought dead ("No, that was the other one, who looked exactly the same"), and who had pretended to give up his party allegiance for the duration.

    Without ever writing anything down, the main parties would take it in turns to give each other a clear run. And the nomination system and the funds required would make it, if not impossible for anyone else to stand, then certainly impossible for anyone else to win.

    But there is no argument for getting rid of Howard that isn't an argument for keeping the monarchy, and no argument for getting rid of the monarchy that isn't an argument for keeping Howard. And you're not going to keep Howard. So you should keep the monarchy instead. And I fully expect taht you will.

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  3. Aussie Richard15 October 2007 12:59

    Im unsure why you suggest that an elected head of state will never be on the ballot in Australia?

    Frankly, for most Australians, the Queen, is a british person from half a world away and a generation before whom a lot of people had thought dead. Sorry to say.

    I'm unsure how defending the current system where the PM solely selects the Governor General - a person who represents the Queen - is a more inclusive system than allowing Australian citizens to elect an Australian head of state.

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  4. What makes you think that it ever will be on the ballot? And even if it were, see my previous comment. At least monarchy is honest.

    And this particular monarchy also happens to be intimately related to the British model of social democracy as historically advocated, tailored to suit Australian conditions, by the Australian Labor Praty, as well as binding together numerous Realms and Territories in several parts of the world, including four of the five long-standing democracies on earth.

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  5. aussie richard15 October 2007 13:46

    I'm unsure how the British Monarchy is "tailored to suit Australian conditions". If by "tailored" you mean, the Queen now plays no role in the Australian polity and has stated she will not involve herself in Australian affairs, then yes, it is tailored. So tailored is this system, that Australian effectively operates as a republic.

    Republicans have a valid point when they argue that Australia's constitutional arrangements should reflect the way the system currently operates.

    Defending the status quo, actually means defending a system in which one person, the PM, selects the Governor-General. This is about as elitist as it gets. Again, why shouldn't Australians choose their own head of state?

    The argument that Australia should keep the British Monarchy because at one point it bound "together numerous Realms and Territories in several parts of the world" seems a particularly unconvincing argument.

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  6. The Aberdonian15 October 2007 14:10

    One thing David, Howard is an arch-monarchist. He only held the referendum (and rigged in such a way that the Republic on offer was unpalatable) to try and kill of the issue.

    Concerning Ireland and its Presidency, practically every President, with the noted exception of Mary Robinson, has been linked to one party - Fianna Fail. Hardly a carve up between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael!

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  7. Aussie Richard, I said that the British model of social democracy was tailored to meet Australia's particular conditions.

    But it remains that model, the theory behind which is inextricably bound up with the monarchy as against exactly the arguments characteristically deployed by anti-monarchists both in Britain and in Australia.

    As for the appointment being in the hands of the Prime Minister, what makes you think that this would be any different in practice even under direct election? I bet it wouldn't be, not really.

    And in any case, no Political Class would ever allow that question on the ballot paper if it could think of an alternative. Which it has done.

    The point at which the monarchy binds together numerous Realms and Territories throughout the world is this point, the present time.

    Desires to loosen those ties belong the thirty years or so after the War, and are utterly anachronistic now. If you were ever going to do it, then you should, and would, have done it then. Where those ties still bind, it is now reasonable to say that they will bind for ever. (The Abderdonian, take note.)

    The Aberdonian, I can see a British ceremonial Presidency being given, by gentlemen's agreement, to the Tories as a permanent consolation prize for a constituency map which made a Tory General Election victory impossible. Just as well that no such office will ever exist.

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  8. aussie richard15 October 2007 17:04

    The Aberdonian, you are exactly correct. Those people who imply that the loss of the republican referendum in Australia is indication of a vote for the monarchy are mistaken.

    I was in the country when the referendum was held, and there were a significant number of pro-republic individuals who were dissatisfied enough with the republican model on offer, that they campaigned for a "no" vote. Working class activists like the high-profile Phil Cleary being one.

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  9. But they'll never get the offer they really want. Buy your own admission, they'd rather have the status quo than the only alternative that will ever be available. Quite right, too.

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  10. Aussie Richard15 October 2007 18:20

    Hi David,

    Sorry, but there is no constitutional reason why the current Australian system cannot be amended to formally establish an Australian head of state. There is nothing about inherent in the system in Australia that means it must remain attached to a monarch.

    As I suggested earlier, from a practical viewpoint, the system *already* operates as an effective republic.

    The Queen is currently reduced to less than a figurehead - Australians do not even want her to represent them on any level. This situation is clearly not tenable?

    I'm not actually a direct-election republican, but a direct election has more ability to involve the wider electorate than the current system you advocate David, where it is *guaranteed* that only *one* person decides who becomes the GG.

    Your other argument that if Australia wanted to become a republic, it would have done so by now is not convincing, especially when the party about to win office has a commitment to a republic.

    "But they'll never get the offer they really want"

    Wrong. The Labor Party's manifesto makes clear the vote on the republic will be a two-stage process. The electorate will decide whether they want a republic, and then they will have to decide what sort of republican model they want - which includes a direct-election Presidency.

    The irrelevance of the monarchy as a head of state for contemporary Australia over the coming years will continue to widen.

    I'd hazard a guess that, if it hasn't already happened; at the time of the next monarch, the impetus for Australia to establish her own head of state at this point will be unstoppable.

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  11. "The electorate will decide whether they want a republic, and then they will have to decide what sort of republican model they want - which includes a direct-election Presidency."

    Believe in that when you see it, and not before. This strikes me as rather like the 1997 Labour promise to hold a referendum on Proportional Representation for the House of Commons. Where is it? (Not that I want it, I should add.)

    "at the time of the next monarch, the impetus for Australia to establish her own head of state at this point will be unstoppable."

    That could be 20 years yet. By then, slavish Americophilia (such as is about to be rejected at the Australian ballot box anyway) will seem like a long time ago, and the decolonisation decades will seem like (indeed, will be) a VERY long time ago.

    I say again, if you were ever going to do it, then you'd have done it decades ago.

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  12. Aussie Richard16 October 2007 12:39

    Sorry David, but as an Australian I can say Australia is culturally already Americanized. Huge suburbs, shopping malls, US TV and music. My cultural reference points growing up are American. This cultural dominance of the US is unlikely to change.

    Americophilia is not being rejected at the ballot box - a tired morally bankrupt conservative government with unpopular policies like "workchoices" is.

    If you are banking on a residual connection between the UK and Australia as a bond to retain the monarchy then you are mistaken. As you'd be aware the makeup of Australia is very different from the Australia of 30 or 40 years ago.

    Polls consistently show that the only group supportive of retaining the english monarchy are those over 55 - a group who you can suggest have a cultural connection with the Queen. For the rest of the country, this just isn't the case.

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  13. Well, we shall see, if the referendum ever takes place.

    "Workchoices" is exactly the sort of Americanisation that I am talking about, as is everything else that you describe. So why make things any worse? Why remove the constitutional cap embodying the fact of sheer good fortune over the fallacy that the rich deserve to be rich, so that the poor must deserve to be poor?

    And that cap is not just a link to Britain. It is a link to New Zealand, to Canada, to Papua New Guinea, to Barbados, to ... well, it's quite a list. And a very multicoloured one.

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  14. Why can't God be the Head of State of His United Kingdom and appoint a Governor-General to represent Him? Like Allah is Head of State of Iran.

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  15. There are those who would tell you that this was already the case...

    Seriously (although they, too, are entirely serious in their own minds, I suppose), the monarchy is inextricably linked with the Christian recognition that providential good fortune confers responsibilities, whereas opposition to it is profoundly secular and lacking in this compassion for either capitalist or Marxist reasons.

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