ANALYSIS: As Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 70 years of stealing a wage from the public on behalf of her deviant royal family, it’s more than time for Australians to banish monarchy to the dustbin of history, writes Gary Johnston.
Aficionados of 1960s musical My Fair Lady will recall the phonetic exercise used in the script: the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.
Here in Australia however, a rather less well known but probably more accurate verbal application goes something like this:
As the UK ‘celebrates’ 70 years of servitude and serfdom with excessive toadying, street parties and a gala concert featuring Rod Stewart, Elton John and Brian May – (as a joyous event, more kneecapping than knees-up) – the time is surely ripe for Australians to consider the absurdity of constitutional monarchy.
Of course, it’s absurd in Britain too but at least the monarch in question – Queen Elizabeth II – Old Betty to you and me, is a local resident. We, on the other hand, are constitutionally genuflecting to a woman who hasn’t set foot in Australia for over a decade, has never stayed longer than three weeks and in her entire life, has been here only 15 times, which to be fair, is more often than George Christensen has managed recently.
Somewhat prudently, Her Maj herself chucked a sickie on the Platinum Jubilee Concert Party; given the ‘star studded’ line-up you could hardly blame her, but it is a reminder than the old dear is 96 years old and that the sands of time are probably trickling out on the individual though not on the monarchical concept.
When the Queen goes, and let’s not get ahead of ourselves since her mum made it to 102 – (her teeth were much older) – the reign will remain, in the hands of her son and heir, Prince Charles: a man, who, not unlike shock-jock gobshite, Kyle Sandilands, has never had a serious job.
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Charles, who, you might remember, wishes he was a tampon, will rule as King of Australia, a prospect every bit as laughable as it sounds, except when you think on it, it’s not really all that funny.
Although it’s billed as a ceremonial role, duly delegated to the Governor General, another gig only available to the largely unemployable, as King, Charles, a man who requires a manservant to wipe his backside, will officially, constitutionally and internationally be Australia’s head of state.
Not laughing now, are you?
The idea of bestowing power and privilege on anyone whose existence is no more or less than accident of birth, is preposterous in any circumstances but for us, here in Australia, it makes no sense whatsoever.
In 1999, a constitutional referendum was held on Australia becoming a republic. The recommendation of the committee who first considered the proposal was that a non political head of state be appointed from within the country by public vote, and that the successful candidate thus be anointed President.
Younger readers should know that back then, the word President wasn’t associated with life-sized Oompa Lumpahs who only ate cheeseburgers, it was a well respected term. (If you don’t count Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin and numerous others).
Seems reasonable doesn’t it, the people get the chance to decide who should be their figurehead? But no, that’s not how it appeared on the ballot paper.
Step forward John Howard, who, was PM at the time and then, as now, a sycophantic, royal arse kisser successfully manipulated the question to insert the crucial fact that the Prez would be appointed by the Parliament – and maybe even – the Government.
Not for the first time, Howard knew what he was doing, a significant amount of Australians believed in the idea of a Republic but baulked at the idea of being kept out of the loop as to who had the top gig.
It was a classic political tactic. Complicate, counter and confuse. Delay, distort and divide.
Although, if Howard’s government, ruthlessly right wing, like Morrison’s but smarter, actually had been allowed to appoint a Head of State, it’s interesting to consider who it might have been.
Hmm. Probably a toss up between Steve ‘Crikey’ Irwin and the late Shane Warne. Which Warney would have won.
Not for the first time, democracy didn’t carry the day. The vote split exactly as Howard anticipated and although it was relatively close, on the question of altering the Constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic with the Queen and Governor-General being replaced by a President appointed by members of the Commonwealth Parliament, there was only 45% agreement.
Nothing to see here, play on Liz. And then Charlie and then Billy and so on for evermore.
Some might disagree, but Australians can do better than that.
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Perhaps it’s naïve in the extreme but a new Government offers at the very least, hope. There are a number of important issues in this country but one of them must concern the identity of the nation.
Australia is no longer a colony.
And in fact the colonial days, characterised as they were by oppression, torture, racism, ethnic cleansing and genocide are something we should strive to move away from, not snuggle up to.
The United Kingdom’s rapacious policy of empire building established – illegally – modern day Australia, but is that still who we are?
It wasn’t called the same but this land existed and functioned long before the First Fleet arrived. Diverse, with unique language groups each with their own social rules, culture, and practices, whether it was known as uthuru, barna, biik or kurrek, this land was not for the British to take. The concept of terra nullius – unowned land – was illegal in international law then as it is now.
They took it anyway.
In the name of His Majesty King George the Third. QEII’s great, great, great grandfather, more or less.
They took it and to some extent, still have it.
It makes absolutely no sense, so, repeat after me –
The Windsor reign must forever remain, but only for those who’ve got no brain.
By Jove, as Henry Higgins said in My Fair Lady, I think you’ve got it.
Actually, no that’s wrong.
The Windsors do.
Forget about “republican” “models”. After 121 years, the essential task is to Ditch the Horrible Palace. That will never happen, unless the Labor and Liberal leaders pre-agree on a blunt course of action.
For my money, that course should be essentially the same as 1999 – a local head of state appointed by a 2/3 majority of a joint sitting. Once you push for an elected head of state, like the ARM, you politicise the role as never before, and you will never get political and voter agreement on the “model”.