Thursday, 14 June 2007

O Republic Where Art Thou

M'learned colleague Budge has responded to my previous post with a lovely discourse on monarchies and republics.

He makes a number of good points, one being that no-one who wants power should be allowed to have it. I couldn't agree more. And I must admit that hereditary monarchy is a great way to achieve this.

I also like the really-big-hat model.

Reading back over my last post, I realised I hadn't made any statement about my feelings on the issue. So here goes.

For Australia, I like the idea of dropping our links with the monarchy, but it's very much a symbolic thing. The monarchy is nothing more than a symbol for us and we are nothing more than an irrelevancy to them. Anyone who has been shuttled through the Aliens entrance at Heathrow knows this. And I believe it’s a symbol that can be changed quite painlessly.

(Begin rant. We've been fortunate in this generation that we have had a reasonably benign monarchy. How many monarchists would we have right now if Lizzie were another Richard III ? You see, I'm always a little nervous that they might turn. Surely all that inbreeding can't be a good thing. End rant.)

Now, I don't want to see any major change in the way things are done at the moment, and I find the idea of a directly-elected president quite rancorous. In fact, I voted yes in the 1999 referendum particularly because I didn’t like the direct-election model.

A directly elected president would, by definition, have to be a politician. Further, they'd either be aligned with the party in power, or aligned with the Opposition. Either way, it would be intensely irritating for we observers and constantly distracting them from their actual duties which are (as m'learned colleague pointed out) cutting ribbons and smiling awkwardly at sick kiddies.

The candidate should have to be agreed on by both sides of Parliament. Under that model, you're going to get someone not aligned with either major party, politically harmless and basically irrelevant. That'd be perfect.

Also, I’m not a big fan of the title “President”. It’s too American, and after Dubya, has too many bad associations. I think whoever gets the gig should be able to choose their own title. I’d be “The Dude”.

Your Majesties, your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. Please welcome to the stage . . . The Dude.

I will be voting yes in a referendum that has the simple question "Do you want Australia to be a Republic?", but it is a bit of a punt.

It will be done in the fervent hope that after all is said and done, it's just a re-branding exercise.

I want to see the Queen's Birthday long weekend changed to The Long Weekend. Dude.


Spoon said...

All this republic talk... I dunno.
Looks like it's time for another "Rob's blogging vicariously through his friends" comments post.

See I'm a tight-arse, and when I look at the country becoming republic the only thing I think of is how much an adventure like that would cost. I don't even want to think about how much we spent on the republic debates last time (I'm sure Eddie Maguire doesn't come cheap) and we didn't even get to be one then. Just think how much it costs a company to change logos. Australia is a bloody big company. All that letter head. All those branded pens and erasers.
And I bet we have Commonwealth of Australia stamped leather chairs which would need to get changed.

Doesn't the carpet in Parliament House have a huge logo on it?

You know the government can't do a reno without spending at least half a million on a chair leg, so I really can't see how we'd get out of a change like this for under a couple of billion. Wouldn't that money be better spent on something other than a figurehead to cut ribbons?

(Having said all that, the Government probably replaces all these things every year regardless of whether they need it, so maybe it wouldn't eat so much more budget than usual... but that's a hyper-cynical point of view)

And the Monarchy isn't going to go bad. Look at Charlie. Big fan of the Goons and the Goodies. how can someone like that be anything other than benign?

If we have a referendum I don't know how I'd vote, but I honestly don't think it would be value for money to change, and I'm all about value.

Briallen said...

so you're basing your decision about the future political structure of the country based on how much it would cost to change the logos, then?

Spoon said...

most people seem to be saying that the only change is that we'll have someone new to cut ribbons, so yes, yes I am.

Well actually I think I am saying that the sheer cost of something this big doesn't seem to enter people's minds when they consider it... i spose.