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
vfl
afl
phil on...
politics
people
history
travel
music
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 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

 

FAIR GO UMPIRE

HOWARD'S TRAP

After much angst and a fair dose of recrimination it seems even Malcolm Turnbull, our own republican emperor, agrees that little Johnny Howard played him and the party boys on a break. There I was at Coburg for the round 11 game against Port and the bloke says 'I'm not happy with you, Phil'.

'Look I 've apologised for knocking over Peter Wilkinson here in 1983. And anyway I did the time, four weeks in fact, can't we move on?' I replied.

'No he deserved it, it's your sabotaging of the republic that I'm angry about' he said hanballing the Sherrin to his wife.

Well, just for the record here are some articles I wrote prior to and after the referendum. You chair the tribunal.

SOON WE'LL HAVE THE REPUBLIC WE WANT

The Age - Monday 8 November 1999

An abridged version

No matter what the jingoists in the Australian Republican Movement camp say, Saturday's referendum vote is something about which ordinary Australians and we in the direct election camp should be proud. This was not a vote for a foreign head of state or some crumbling hereditary family. It was a vote for participation in the political system and a reminder to the urban middle class that political wisdom can be found outside celebrity politics and the corridors of power.

Two days ago we were told that a no vote would see the end of the republic. Now Kim Beazley tells us that the no vote actually means yes to the republic, and that a republic with an elected president will be part of the ALP's political agenda in the lead-up to the next election. How amusing, given that when direct electionists outlined this scenario in the weeks before the referendum they were lampooned as quisling monarchists and spoilers.

In the face of a barrage of media propaganda for a republic with a president appointed by Parliament, the people have voted no. Yet ARM defenders such as The Age's Michael Gordon continue with their elitist mantra. ...........

There is no doubt John Howard was a willing player in the death of this republic. But what about Keating and Turnbull? What about Labor leaders Peter Beattie, Mike Rann, Geoff Gallop and Jim Bacon, who supported a direct election model only to jump ship at the death knell? Doesn't it occur to anyone that this was not a model for the times, and that Keating and Turnbull underestimated the wish of Australians to be sovereign in any republic?

At last year's Constitutional Convention it was made clear to the ARM leadership that history was not on the side of referendum bills that centralised or appeared to centralise power in the hands of executive government, and that their model was therefore likely to go down........

The challenge is to develop a republic model that addresses the concerns and aspirations of Australians. If that means a model that avoids the excesses of the American system, then so be it. Contrary to the claims of some, it is possible to fashion a republic model that restricts the ability of big money to determine the outcome of a presidential election. Any number of constitutional lawyers have confirmed this.

In clinging to the ridiculous notion that Australians would elect a vacuous celebrity or a partisan politician, the ARM and the leaders of the major parties have underestimated the wisdom of the people and the prevailing political mood. Blue-collar workers and people in the bush voted against the republic on offer because it was elitist. Yet, despite the polls consistently showing that some 70 per cent of Australians want to elect their own president, the leaders of the major parties chose to interpret this as a product of ignorance and confusion.............................

Phil Cleary is the Victorian convenor of Real Republic.

 

The Age

28 July 1999

YES AND MORE? YOU MUST BE JOKING, MOIRA?

At last year's Constitutional Convention, Moira Rayner was one of a number of delegates who proclaimed themselves passionate defenders of constitutional reform and a people's democracy. The wise old owl Clem Jones, the redoubtable Ted Mack, the recalcitrant Pat O'Shane and many others refused to be seduced by the shallow jingoism of the ARM.

"I'm not prepared to support a republic that entrenches discrimination ……..that is not a real republic and is not worth the trouble of creating one. A real republic puts the power in the people…..the quality of a republic depends on the quality of its citizens. No minimalist model, no cautious compromise will capture the will of the people. It must protect the individual from the misuse of her government's power……," growled Moira to the applause of Direct Electionists.

When she defended her decision to support the ARM model on the grounds she had to vote with her leader, Tim Costello, I was disappointed but kind of understood her predicament. Now, as I watch her (Age 27 July) tell republicans "it's time to get passionate again" and write "yes and more" on the very model she savaged at the Convention, I can only say "Moira, you must be joking!" What is it about contemporary life that ideas and deeply held views can be so easily compromised?

What's the point of condemning lack of transparency in Government, parliamentary travel rorts and conflict of interest, or standing shoulder to shoulder with the Auditor General, only to climb the stump to defend a 'republican model' that enshrines executive power and exudes contempt for the people? Moira well knows that the escalating cynicism towards the major parties and politics generally has its genesis in the preparedness of glib politicians to trade in alleged deeply held ideas.

As with the pitiful attempt of a slavishly pro-market ALP to mount a case against the Coalition's sale of Telstra or Peter Reith's workplace policies, Moira's strategy just won't work. If the extent of Moira's group's commitment to democracy is the writing of a silly "yes…..and more" on the ticket it's no wonder people are indicting the political process. However, as they showed when they defeated conscription in 1916/17, the Anti-Communist Bill in 1951 and Pauline Hanson in 1996, ordinary punters just aren't that stupid. Nor are they so stupid as to believe that should Malcolm Turnbull and his ARM get their way it'll be a case of "and more". If this model wins the day we'll live to regret it. No-one can seriously believe that the major parties will campaign for further constitutional reform once they've fought off the people's challenge and entrenched their power. Why would they?

It should come as no surprise that, at a time when support for the major parties is collapsing and people are voting strategically in the Senate, the usual suspects would chose to foist this model on us. The ARM model with its president plucked from the old boy network after a cosy and secretive nomination process is the antithesis of what Moira demanded at the Convention. Dressed up as heralding a democratic break with the days of the hereditary monarchy, the ARM republic is a Trojan horse. Fancy asking the people to endorse a model that allows for the president to be sacked by way of a phone call from John Howard without due process then denies the Senate a role in any review of the position. As the Clerk of the Senate, Harry Evans, laments "this is the most ridiculous Constitution alteration proposal I have ever heard of…….no other republic has such an arrangement".

Ironically, it's only by defeating this phoney republic that we'll have any chance of the "and more" constitutional reform about which Moira writes. If this model is defeated it will be because, as every poll confirms, the model refuses to affirm the sovereignty of the people. Only by reaffirming our commitment to the democratic right to elect a president, even one with essentially cultural and symbolic authority, can we generate the momentum to bring about something approaching a real republic.

A hundred years ago the feminist sisterhood from which Moira draws inspiration was told to forego the vote because politics wasn't any of their business. They didn't accept that advice. I'd be surprised and disappointed if feminists accept Moira's advice to curtsey before Malcolm Turnbull's "boy's own" republic. Contrary to the assertions of Moira and other public defectors such as Pat O'Shane, it's not apathy, ignorance or lack of passion that is driving people away from the ARM model and into the 'No' camp. If only Malcolm Turnbull and his mates would start rooting for democracy rather than "Rooting Democracy" (to borrow the title of one of Moira's books) the people might come around.

Phil Cleary


Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
[home]   [vfl]   [afl]   [world sport]   [politics]   [people]   [history]   [travel]   [music]   [literature]

© 2000 Phil Cleary Holdings
site by five