Jul 252007

"Can I say, we’re going to consult the people again. We haven’t fixed a time frame for doing that, and I think the time will come before too much longer when we do have an Australian as our head of state." Kevin Rudd


How very interesting. More populism, together with the you-bewt kitchen table issues we’ve all already heard about, plus the legislation formerly known as Workchoices. Supporter of the Labor ethos as I am, I can’t help but feel the utterances from Rudd (and aren’t they coming ONLY from Rudd just lately?) over the last month or so are simply sound bites aimed at the impressionable. This latest sound bite has enormous potential to bite back at Rudd if he’s silly enough to think the people will forget what he promised today.

As a Republican myself, I eagerly await the day when the people of this country are afforded a clear choice as to whether we ought, or ought not become a republic in the full sense of the term. Are we a fully-fledged independent nation, in no further need or want of ties to a bygone era when everything revolved around the British Empire and all who sailed in her? I reckon so. 1999’s referendum on the issue proved nothing more than that the ruling class of conservative zealots, led by John Winston Howard, didn’t believe so. At the time, a definite push for Rule Britannia was coming from the conservative side of the divide, not withstanding the likes of Peter Costello. So determined was the push against a straight and simple ’Yes’, that the question wound up being a loaded one purposed designed to upset enough libertarians into voting ’No’ that the whole show became a farce long before 6 November, 1999.

In any true republic, the people elect the Head of State, not the elected representatives. Had 1999 resulted in a ’Yes’ which thankfully it didn’t, we’d have wound up with……..well, just what we have now. An elected dictatorship, where JWH does what he likes because he believes he’s been given a mandate to do exactly that. Kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it, reader, whether the current state of political play in this country wasn’t engineered eight years ago.

So, yes, Kevvie……bring it on. But don’t screw around with the people’s sensibilities on the matter. Don’t be playing the populist to garner support now, only to put the ideal of a true and proper referendum on the back-burner until November 2010, just in time to test the people’s resolve for another go around the block. Have the gumption and honesty to come out with it during the first 18 months, make it fair and make it a straight up couple of questions.

  1. Should Australia become a Republic?
  2. Should the people elect the Head of State?

Vagaries relating to how candidates for Head of State should be decided can be deferred to public debate. It’s not rocket science, and it ought not involve politics, even though I’m not as naive as to believe it won’t. Before half-way, Kevin Rudd! Be true to your word or it’ll turn to bite you.

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