Extraordinary plans are afoot in Canberra for Malcolm Turnbull, Paul Keating, Kevin Rudd or someone of their ilk to succeed Queen Elizabeth in her capacity as Queen of Australia.
This is to be done through the back door, not by the people, but by the politicians doing a deal among themselves .
With the hope that nobody will much notice, pseudo-king Kevin or whoever is chosen will be called ‘governor-general’.
And as is typical of these soi-disant republicans, this will involve a secret agenda and the complete disregard of any unintended consequences.
What is clear is that the pseudo-king will be able to exercise all of the apparent powers of the Crown but without any one of the constraints. And to demonstrate that the plan is serious, expert legal advice has even been obtained on how best to hijack the succession to the Queen without the tedium of first obtaining your or any other rank-and-file Australian’s vote.
Politicians in the principal parties rarely speak without approval of the machine and given there has been no subsequent attempt from his party or other republican politicians to distance themselves from this plan, it may well have been dropped into the media, just before Christmas, by Victorian Labor MP Julian Hill to test the waters.
It was of course soon superseded by news about all of those many serious problems created or made worse by our mainly republican politicians, including drought, bushfires, energy prices, the run-down of manufacturing, fishing and agriculture and falling school standards.
Unlike the political class and the commentariat, there is little interest in, or strong support for, such soi-disant republicanism among the rank and file. This was true even around the referendum. In fact, the only demonstration which attracted a decent crowd was when Australians for Constitutional Monarchy called out over 20,000 supporters into Macquarie Street Sydney over the Carr government’s seizure of Government House. Every republican demonstration, including one widely promoted for the referendum, has been an embarrassment.
Republicanism in Australia has never been about republican principles as understood in, say, the United States. It has always been for some ulterior purpose. In the nineteenth century it was to create a white apartheid regime and in the first half of the twentieth century, to annex Australia to the evil communist empire responsible for the massacre of over 100 million people.
The one which has so excited the political class and the commentariat for the last quarter of a century has nothing at all to do with the principles of republicanism. Based on an embarrassing and infantile obsession against the Queen and the country’s oldest and most enduring constitutional institution, its aim and effect are to increase the power of our mainly republican politicians. Hence the winning referendum slogan, ‘Vote No to the Politicians’ Republic’ devised by ACM’s Rick Brown who, in delivering Victoria, ensured a clean sweep for the No case.
More recently, when Harry and Meghan decided on a new stage in their lives, the usual coterie once again saw this as the long-awaited silver bullet which would revive their flawed and unappealing politicians’ republic.
Hence the plethora of royal watcher commentaries filled with invention, viciousness and spite and invariably concluding with yet another call for that republic.
What they all fear is another referendum would result in a bigger defeat than in 1999. So they all call for a variation of the solution first proposed by Paul Keating a quarter of a century ago, a government-funded mass opinion poll. Called a ‘plebiscite’ to make it sound serious, it was to ask: ‘Do you want an Australian Head of State?’.
Too clever by half, Keating chose a term which was so obscure it wasn’t even in the then Macquarie Dictionary; with only public international lawyers fully understanding what the term meant.
But Keating wasn’t fast enough for QC and soon to be made judge, Lloyd Waddy, who observed, with consummate ease and wit, that he would advise ACM followers to vote Yes for the simple reason that we already had an Australian Head of State –―the Governor-General. Nothing more was heard on this from Keating .
The latest version of the proposed and arguably unconstitutional plebiscite tries to overcome this by asking: ‘Do you want Australia to become a republic with an Australian Head of State?’. But as David Long wrote recently in The Spectator Australia: ‘Any first-year university political science student familiar with the writings of John Locke will know that Australia is already a republic.’
Indeed, in writing ACM’s foundation charter, Michael Kirby included the belief of some (including both John Howard and Tony Abbott) that Australia is already a republic, a crowned republic. As Kirby wrote, Australia enjoys ‘all the desirable features of a republican government and a constitutional monarchy without any disadvantages of either system.’
So if the planned plebiscite is not first ruled unconstitutional, it will prove just as totally useless as Keating’s would have been.
That’s why dispensing with the people’s vote as Hill proposes may well be proving attractive to the republican politburo. They would then try to use an obscure provision in the 1986 Australia Acts to have all seven parliaments agree on circumventing Australians’ right to decide such questions in a referendum.
This legislation was introduced to regularise the status of the states, not to steal the people’s vote and make someone like Kevin Rudd a ‘King’ Kevin.
If it looked as if the politicians were going to adopt Hill’s plan, you can be assured that ACM will be in the High Court and before the people quicker than Hill can say ‘God Save The Queen’, to whom, incidentally, he has sworn or affirmed his allegiance twice.
This comment was the subject of an interview with Michael McLaren on 2GB, 4BC, 3AW and the Macquarie Media Network on 22 January 2020 at