Features Australia

Aux bien pensants

29 December 2016

3:00 PM

29 December 2016

3:00 PM

Long before Trump & Brexit…

President Trump’s landslide is just the beginning. Better than the sight of battalions of experts scraping the egg off their faces has been his steely determination to block the elites’ plans to fill the courts with activists, undermine family, police and military, go soft on crime, close factories, farms and mines, open the borders, and impose world government.

Actually, the first recorded victory of the people over the elites was not BREXIT. It was in 1999 when Australians in every state and 72 per cent of electorates rejected the ‘inevitable’ politicians’republic in favour of our crowned republic. That’s a term Warren Mundine tells me is such an apt description of our unique constitutional system. Meanwhile, Malcolm Turnbull has put the issue back on the agenda arguing this is the only way we can have an Australian as head of state. He must have forgotten that his excuse for not turning up last June when the remains of our Vietnam war dead came home was that the head of state was there: the governor-general.

As patron of ‘his beloved Australians for Constitutional Monarchy’, as the Australian put it, Tony Abbott was keynote speaker at ACM’s recent 17th annual conference. ACM is proud to be the only organisation, monarchist or republican, to have held a national conference every year since the referendum, testifying to the strength of the core arguments for the Crown’s retention. Bob Hawke conceded this in the ‘90s when he lamented that monarchists were winning the intellectual argument.

Flying up from Melbourne just to introduce Tony Abbott, Alan Jones recalled the superb 1999 speech he gave to launch one of ACM’s two principal referendum publications; The No Case Papers, by 20 eminent Australians − actually 19 eminences and moi. The other book was The Cane Toad Republic, which Professor Geoffrey Blainey told me was the best book written for the 1999 referendum. It tells how republicans were desperately scratching around for just one plausible reason to root out the Crown. They finally settled on the spurious argument that only in their politicians’ republic could we have an Australian as Head of State. As Malcolm Turnbull recently admitted, we already have one, the Governor-General. The book got me into hot water at Senate Estimates. Holding up the Canberra Times, a senator demanded to know who paid my fare to its launch by Sir Harry Gibbs. I said I walked to the launch. ‘You walked?’ Eventually, I observed that just because the launch was reported in the Canberra Times didn’t mean the launch was in Canberra. It was in Sydney. The senator quickly changed the subject, cursing some republican sleuth under his breath.

I managed to refer to this book in the Speccie-sponsored conference debate with the energetic Republican leader, Peter FitzSimons, who bravely entered our lion’s den. I recalled that at a debate with Malcolm Turnbull at Corowa before the referendum, I presented the no case with the independent republican, Ted Mack. Impeccably honest, Ted resigned twice to avoid drawing an MP’s platinum-plated superannuation. I complained to Ted how the official republicans wouldn’t listen when I tried to warn them their model dangerously neutralised the constitutional checks against the abuse of power. He replied dryly: ‘They know all that. That’s precisely what they want.’

Subsequently, over a dozen prominent republican constitutional experts came out to denounce the referendum model as seriously flawed. This vital information was not reported in the mainstream media. Surprisingly, some of those experts subsequently campaigned for a Yes vote.

As Prime Minister, Tony Abbott had declared ACM ‘the fiercest defenders of the Constitution’. He was inviting us to support the constitutional recognition of the indigenous people. Consequently, ACM put in a substantial submission to the relevant parliamentary committee, arguing not so much support for recognition, but that the Australian people should be involved from the beginning through a constitutional convention. This we said, should be on many other relevant issues and conduct most of its business though committees operating on Skype. One MP objected strongly to our proposal that the delegates be unpaid. The ‘recognise’ people seem to have taken on board our idea of a convention, but only for aboriginal people.

We decided that our future conferences should extend beyond those core matters on which we would normally feel confident to take a formal position, issues which should have priority over pointlessly running another republican referendum. Republicans should remember that, notwithstanding their vast wealth and the fact that they had the support of over two thirds of the politicians and almost all of the mainstream media, with many outlets campaigning vociferously in their news reports, they were defeated nationally, in every state and in 72 per cent of electorates. Since then, support has fallen even for a vague undefined republic, with the young now rivalling the old as supporters of our crowned republic.

So the conference moved on to hear a series of panels of outstanding authorities in Q&A sessions ranged over a number of pressing constitutional issues − same sex marriage; indigenous recognition; freedom of speech; constitutionally entrenched water rights for farmers and property rights for all; ICAC, ethanol and ‘pretend’ courts; federalism; BREXIT and politicians’ accountability and direct democracy. The videos will be accessible soon on the YouTube channel Aussie Crown and Monarchy Australia, Safe Worlds TV and A-PAC.

For the end of the year, it’s appropriate to deliver a verdict on the Turnbull government. Andrew Bolt says Turnbull is the worst Liberal PM since Sir William McMahon. That’s unfair − to Mc Mahon. My assessment is on the Daily Telegraph and Spectator Australia Flat White sites.

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