Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Republic Dream Sweeping In

Last weekend the Rudd government hosted a talkfest of 1000 Australians to pinpoint our vision for this country in 2020. The event received mixed reviews, but was charged with passion, which makes it a success in my books.

The thing that surprised me, given the many social and economics issues we are facing post-Howard, Rudd reported the desire for a republic at the 2020 summit was overwhelming and "there was a sense of inevitability" about it.

I’ve been pro republic since I was a boy, not always popular with adults around me back then. Its one thing not to stand for ‘God Save the Queen’ because of being a ‘naughty boy’, quite another when it is openly declared as a protest. But it is something which must be inevitable, not forced.

The last time we tried to cut ties with the crown it was a referendum carefully crafted by the pro-royalist Howard clique. I expect support would have been borderline if the question had succeeded, yet it is so fundamental a move the support must be clear and unambiguous.

In part the question failed the public test on the method of selecting a head of state. With a national antipathy toward politicians the general preference was ironically for an elected ‘president’. Logic, and the official push was for a head of state selected by parliament. Australia is, and has long been, a de facto parliamentary democracy, not a monarchy.

With state governors and the Governor General currently being chosen by the elected government at any given time we have had very few disappointments in the past. In general the only problem appointments have been political. But maintaining a non-political, largely ceremonial and appointed position really does present a very workable transition.

I’m still perplexed that there is a growing swell of support for a republic just now. The conservatives will inevitably cry – “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it…” But the social fabric of this country is broke, in many ways. Perhaps there is a desire to really say goodbye to the past as we rebuild for the future.


enigma4ever said...

Change...waves of change around the world...really interesting...

Cart said...

I just wish it was well considered change :( I'm currently researching 1840s Industrial revolution, perhaps the crucible of our modern system, and find the same sort of nonsense driving issues then.

TomCat said...

I guess I need to confess ignorance on the issue. To what extent, if any, did your ties to the UK suck you into the Bush War for oil and world conquest?

Cart said...

Tom, we have a sort of sibling relationship with Britain, and probably far closer policy ties to the US. At least during my lifetime the crown has not implied any special relationship with Britain per se.
John Howard, incidentally a rabid royalist who just missed out on a knighthood (reported here minutes ago), was also intensely pro Bush. Most of the country is bemused by his attachments, they are not considered representative.

D.K. Raed said...

I hope you get a republic, no matter what the driving force! Too bad Bush has tarnished what the title President should mean. But actually, I like the parliamentary system better. I just love watching the Brit House of Commons on C-Span. If our president had to face up to that, with the public watching, we would really have some worthwhile political discourse.

ps, Howard must be so bummed out over his lack of knighthood. boohoo. maybe he didn't bow low enough to queenie.

Cart said...

Knighthoods have not been issued here since the early '70s. I guess Howard really sees himself from another era.
I'm fond of the parliamentary system, but we still end up with politicians :)