Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : Politics Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature


 

A REAL REPUBLIC

Just as the ARM model at the 1998 Australian Constitutional Convention failed to achieve a majority vote from the delegates so it failed to win one single state in the 6 November 1999 Referendum. Even in Victoria where the Kennett government, the Bracks Opposition, the media and the Catholic church campaigned for a 'yes' vote, it failed. 

It's important that those committed to electing their own president rather than having a Kim Beazley or John Howard federal parliament foist one upon us, begin organising. Nor should we be duped into believing that a renovated ARM will as a matter of course offer us a republic in which the president is elected.  

Despite his strident criticism of the ARM prior to the Convention Tim Costello became a public ally.  And whilst it's true that he initially voted for a direct election model, when it came to the crucial final vote Tim changed his position and mounted the hustings in support of a ' yes' vote. 

Tim's public comments never really hid the fact that his support for a direct election model was problematic. His February 5 declaration, "....I am worried about direct election models.....with parliament at some level ratifying that (nominations) with a two thirds majority so that representative democracy is sheeted home, is the way we must be turning our minds......" indicates at best a reluctant direct-electionist.  However, unless Tim gives his unequivocal support for a republic with an elected president he should dispense with the label 'direct-electionist'. 

'Progressive' minded people are well aware that the community is disillusioned with contemporary political processes. But unless exhortations such as "I do fear that pragmatism may be winning.  And I do fear that if it does, if the dialectic of principle is not powerfully there luring Australians to actually see that we are about some noble ideas, then we may fail history...." as uttered by Tim (February 3 1998) are supported with deeds, they only further the disillusionment.

Given the manner in which pragmatism has decimated the status of the parliaments of Australia, it would seem blatantly ignoble to hand over the selection of our president to a federal parliament and some partisan committee.

 

IS ANY REPUBLIC GOOD ENOUGH?

 

The contempt shown to those direct electionists who opposed a phoney republic that partitioned the people from the symbols of authority is quite mad. If only we'd supported the partitioned republic proposed by Rupert Murdoch, Peter Costello, Steve Bracks, Kerry Packer, Bob Carr, Malcolm Fraser, his archrival Gough Whitlam, Steve Vizard and the boys. If only we'd cast aside our explicit opposition to the exclusivist, partitioned republic and linked arms with the big end of town republicans. If only!

And how instructive that those who in November 1999 accused the voters of gross ignorance for not voting how they were told by Kylie Minogue and Rupert, should now be praising 'ordinary' Australians for their creative approach to the Olympics and the circus that accompanied it.  Some even went so far as to declare that Australia was a republic in spirit already. 

The republic on offer on 6 November 1999 mocked the very idea of participation by the people. That’s why people in the bush and outside the epicentre of power voted against it. The chorus of unconditional support from the likes of Steve Bracks and Bob Carr for the action of the police outside Crown Casino in September should serve as a chilling reminder of just how desperate the major parties are about holding on to the levers of control.

An elected president was a metaphor for participation and in no small way challenged the modus operandi of the new ruling class and its allies. The alternative, a model in which the same old mob would orchestrate the same old charade, wasn’t worth any self respecting Irish-Australian crossing the road to vote for.  If Ned Kelly seriously wanted a republic in the North East of Victoria, do you think he'd have settled for the parliament selecting the boss cockie?  

I've met with the ARM and am keenly interested in participating in any movement to bring about a republic.  The question is, what kind of republic do we deserve?  Is any jingoistic shell of a republic good enough?  I think not.  Do we really want to hand over the selection of a president to a parliament inhabited by men and women slavishly addicted to the party line?  One of the reasons for the establishment of the magazine Táin was the anger and frustration of Irish Australians with the anti-Irish press in Australia.  Val Noone and others decided that it was time we had a vehicle through which to articulate  Irish-Australian matters on our own terms.  So too we should want a president on our own terms.

If the political pressure is mobilised there'll be good reason for the politicians to offer us a plebiscite after which time we can have a serious discussion about the form of the republic.

 

 

 

 

   

 


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