Last week, we witnessed the dramatic conversion of Bill Shorten.
His plebiscite comments have been forgotten. No longer, is direct democracy ‘too harmful’ and ‘too expensive’. Quite the contrary, the destruction of the world’s most effective system of governance is now a pressing national priority. As such, Aussies should have the privilege of not one, but two national votes, on their potential ‘liberation by republic’.
Shorten’s plans are certainly bold. There will be no need to bother setting out a concrete constitutional alternative. Instead, Australians will first be asked if they support plans for a republic. According to Shorten, that will ‘probably’ happen. Then and only then, will ‘we’ consider how a new head of state is chosen. Quite who the leader of the opposition means by ‘we’, remains to be seen.
Similarly, it’s presumed, that there will only be three options on the table when it comes to choosing a new head of state – direct election, appointment by the prime minister or a vote in parliament. However, this is my attempt at an educated guess. We can’t be sure.
Let’s assume for a second that the first vote goes the way of the republicans. Australia would be thrown into a constitutional crisis. Those, dogmatic in their pursuit of forensic overhaul, would no doubt tell us that little would change. Don’t be fooled. Remember that the model for a republic proposed in 1999 required no less than 69 alternations to the constitution, amended only eight times in the last century.
Nonetheless, in the months to come, many will illuminate the cynical and vacuous plans of the republicans, in far more eloquent detail than me.
Instead, I want to warn fellow monarchists. In the inevitable battles to come, we must beware the stagnating complacency found in negativity. Of course, when the opposition insists on such lazy and dangerous ineptitude, it’s our duty to draw attention to this.
However, we must do more.
We would be wise to take a retrospective glance at the ‘Stronger In Europe’, ‘Hillary for America’ and recent Tory Party campaigns. All three show us that, irrespective of political persuasion, if your only message is ‘don’t risk it’ – you’re likely to lose. Indeed, the Australian Republican Movement head Peter FitzSimons has already attempted to characterize us as ‘nervous nellies’.
We have enormous reason to be positive. Not only is the system ‘not broke’, it’s excelling.
The crown has been an intrinsic part of Australian history and remains essential, enabling the thriving democracy that the nation enjoys to this very day. The coming debate presents us with a wonderful opportunity, to better communicate our passion for the Australian way of life and its brilliantly effective system of governance. Thirty per cent of Aussies are still unaware that their nation has a written constitution. Let’s tell them. In fact, let’s shout about it.
The monarchy embodies history and heritage, current prosperity and an exciting, global future. Australia is one of only a few nations that enjoys the best of both worlds. It is a global trade superpower, not bound by regional political union. In addition, it is celebrated in its special role as a constitutional monarchy within a resurgent Commonwealth. Just under a third of the world’s population now call the Commonwealth home. Its members comprise a breathtaking vibrancy of diverse peoples and cultures, as well as some of the fastest growing economic powerhouses on the planet.
Among the world’s other major constitutional monarchies, we find some of the freest and wealthiest nations in existence. New Zealand, Canada, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and Japan, are all beacons of stable democracy and home to notably low levels of corruption. What’s more, when it comes to economic equality and social mobility: Sweden, Denmark and Norway are the highest ranked trio on the planet, dwarfing their global, republican neighbours.
Would Australia really be best served by another tribal, bland, career politician, in an already crowded field? Canberra has seen eight prime ministers in ten years. Political backstabbing, ego and uncertainty, would cost Australia on the global stage. Rather than a figure defined by personal agenda and cultivation of image, we can have a royal family who represent us as unique, individual characters. Their lives, devoted to our service. Simultaneously, a Governor General who safeguards freedoms and liberty in accordance with the constitution.
Fortunately, there are plenty of reasons for patriotic Australians to be encouraged. Yes, support for a republic has held firm among men in their forties and fifties, especially within the social circles of career politicians and elite businessmen. However, Mansillo’s 2016 report, published in the Australian Journal of Political Science, found overall support for the Monarchy has actually increased since the 1999 referendum. Particularly notable increases were observed among female voters, 18-24-year olds and European and Asian migrants.
Similarly, in 1999, one-third of Labor voters voted with their nation and against the out of touch upper echelons of their party. Patriotic, working class Labor voters, are a crucial and cherished part of the monarchist coalition. We’ll need their support. Now more than ever.
Complacency is not an option. As was the case in 1999, ordinary Aussies will face an orchestrated, top-down push by a political and media elite, transfixed by their republic. As things stand, they are better organised than us and will do everything they can to ensure the logistics and framing of the question and of the campaign, favour them. We can also be sure they’ll have an awful lot more cash than us. It was only last year, that James Packer gave $250,000 to the ARM. This is just one example of the influence big donors would like to exert in this debate.
Nevertheless, across the political spectrum, hardworking Australians realise that people must always come before politicians. Likewise, this great nation still believes in its heritage, future and way of life.
We can only hope that when the times comes, we’re all ready for the fight.
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