The 2022 election has demonstrated again the failure of Australia’s principal political parties to face the fact that they cannot honestly serve two masters.
In trying to do so they are deceiving their base and through their duplicity are gradually making themselves irrelevant.
This is demonstrated in the collapse of their primary vote and the number of people who do not vote or who even avoid enrolment. The principal parties are only being saved by the artificial and calculated protections given by the world’s most complicated system of compulsory and preferential voting and the degree of fraud the politicians have decided to tolerate.
This problem is starkly exposed by a curious historical correlation. This is between the seats targetted by the so-called ‘teals’, – the unaffiliated Greens – and the Liberal seats which registered a Yes vote for the most disastrous republican model ever conceived.
Although this occurred over two decades ago, this is increasingly relevant today for one simple fact: even now, neither party has faced up to the glaring lesson of the republic referendum.
As to the 1999 republican model, we should never forget that it came from Malcolm Turnbull, the leader who later gave us such disasters as the French submarines ( not the excellent submarines our French friends produce but the converted monstrosity that our government ordered) and that ecological and energy disaster, Snowy 2.0.
That republican model was an outrage on the Westminster system of responsible government. It would have been the only republic in history where a power-drunk prime minister could have sacked the president, without notice, without any grounds whatsoever and without any legal right of appeal. In a repeat of the 1975 situation, Australia could easily become a dictatorship.
But not only did many experts who criticised the model subsequently support the Yes case, so did most of the nation’s expert commentariat. The more educated and the wealthier electorates, later targetted by the ‘teals’, did so too, with over 60 per cent in Wentworth, North Sydney and Kooyong actually voting Yes to such an abomination. Fortunately, they were a minority. Among federal seats, the No case registered a landslide 72 per cent. Only 28 per cent were silly enough to vote for the model.
What was extraordinary was that people who should have known better actually supported the model.
Now let me stress again, this is not just of historic interest.
During the republic campaign, Australians for Constitutional Monarchy did not have the resources of the wealthy republican movement. When the Constitutional Convention was held in Old Parliament House in 1998, Mr Turnbull and the republican leadership stayed at the Hyatt, ACM coming in each day by bus from a suburban motel.
In the months preceding the referendum vote, we scraped together enough money to have pop-up offices in each state capital with a state director.
The Victorian director, Rick Brown, had been a close associate of B.A. Santamaria. He was and is an extraordinary political strategist. If we were going to lose a state during the referendum, it would have been Victoria where even the leader of the Nationals was a republican. But because of Rick’s careful advice, we held on to Victoria, thus giving us a clean sweep of all states.
In an interview with Rick on the Monarchy Australia YouTube channel, he concludes that the raison d’etre of both political parties disappeared in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down.
This meant that the values of the ordinary voter were no longer necessarily those of their preferred party. What we then saw in the referendum was both Labor and nearby Liberal seats voting the same way.
The only difference was the postcode. That’s right. The postcode.
The inner-city elite seats voted for the republican model. The outer suburbs and the regions voted No.
But neither of the political parties, he argues, want even now to learn from the referendum. Why? Because this would have made them change their whole comfortable and deceitful political strategy. We see this in the schizoid attempts by the Liberals to cater to both Wentworth voters and those in the outer suburbs, and the equally schizoid attempts of Labor to cater for both inner-city elites and the mining electorates.
Rick Brown says that the first major party that re-focuses its efforts solely on the outer suburbs and the regions will clean up. But, he says, neither side is so disposed. Both continue to pander to the inner suburbs and simultaneously appease the outer suburbs and the regions.
Asked why this is so, he replies that this is because of the people who control the parties. They all live in the inner city elite suburbs. Check out, he suggests, where their staffers are renting. You will not be surprised.
He says the people of the outer suburbs and the regions have real priorities. They know who is ruling them and that the rulers look down on them.
When those who supported the republican model lost, he says, they argued this didn’t matter. ‘We’ll have a republic in five years,’ they said.
They did not. He says such cultural causes are time-dependent. They depend on the cultural view of a particular group of people at a particular time.
I suggested in the YouTube interview that global warming is a similar issue. There was no time to pursue that. The fact is that as an issue it is unimportant to anyone with any sense at least because our emissions don’t count. In addition, outside of the elites including those with financial conflicts of interest, there are far more important issues.
Meanwhile, he says the nation is controlled by a new born-to-rule class, not of inherited wealth but of professional elites. They think they are the fountain of all wisdom and that the peasants are fortunate indeed to have the benefit of what they have to say.
Not, it would seem, for much longer.
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