28 February 1998

Republic. Be in it.

So are you all glued to the screen of your TV watching the Constitutional Convention with baited breath? I am. There promises to be some fireworks in the next few days, as republicans go head to head with not only the monarchists, but each other as well.

I for one don't think that I could bear to miss the rivetting action from the floor of the House of Representatives in Old Parliament House. I'm putting money on Malcolm Turnbull completely losing his cool and decking Alf Garland, as he tag-teams with Bruce Ruxton for monarchist team, whilst Turnbull and his mates fend off the attacks of the hard-core team of Moira Rayner and the Reverend from Hell, alias Tim Costello.

Yes folks. It will be interesting to see what contributions, if any, that the holy trinity of Eddie McGuire, Steve Vizard and Poppy King will introduce to the whole melee, as that certifiable pair of funsters Ted Mack and Phil Cleary ride in with all guns blazing.

But I wonder whether it will all be worth it. For you see, this whole charade is going to cost the taxpayer x amount of millions of dollars, and I personally do not see any firm conclusions surfacing at all.

So, Dikkii. Where do you stand on all of this?

Well, if you'll forgive me talking to myself in the third person, I must profess to being a republican. Note the small 'r', because in the next few days, I think that this distinction is going to become as important as that between small and large 'l' liberals and small and large 'd' democrats.

Incidentally, why don't you have small and large 'l' labors, apart from the fact that this is poor grammar and that the ALP can't spell?

Back to the topic at hand. I'll reiterate the fact that I'm a republican, for the amount of good that it'll do me, because I don't think that it is as clear cut as it used to be.

The minimalists all believe that all references to the Queen and the GG (insert heroin joke here) can all be whited out and replaced with the term President in what is effectively a cosmetic makeover of the constitution to satisfy the middle ground. These people can be best typified by the aforementioned Malcolm Turnbull, and Prof George Winterton. They probably listen to Mariah Carey, Michael Bolton and Celine Dion, or maybe a small dose of the Wyndham Hill label. Some would ask what is the point? Effectively, it is a constitutional monarchy with a few name changes here and there.

The maximalists all want to get their own little sections in the constitution. I'm surprised that none of these nutcases has staked a claim in New Zealand, or called for the abolition of the states. Together with the ones who are a little less severe in their stance, they all agree that a head of state should be popularly elected. Obviously, they've never heard of a little country with the initials USA, where this situation just doesn't seem to work - the words "lame duck" automatically spring to mind. They listen to hardcore techno, hardcore death metal and hardcore jazz. They don't listen to hardcore hiphop, because this would be ideologically unsound.

The monarchists all like to listen to Bach and trad jazz. They are all unanimous, as Mrs Slocum would say, in their belief that if it ain't broke, why fix it? This is somewhat scary, because it shows that all the old farts have a more united front than the young go-getters.

So what is the problem with this?

The way I see it, a republic is a good idea, because an Australian head of state sounds quite nice, especially when compared to the undemocratically unelected house of Windsor that currently holds all the cards. I think if it's elected, you may get the added bonus, and I use that word advisedly, of seeing Presidents forming governments and sacking others more frequently, although after the Whitlam thing, Australians are still burned by the whole thing, and it might also be good to see some of the reserve powers codified more explicitly so that this doesn't happen. So I think that I only prefer it elected if that were the case. Otherwise an appointee may be the way to go.

But hang on. Isn't this all going to cost us a huge amount of cash?


And that's what I can't believe about this whole affair. While 'Chardonnay-sipping Sydneysiders' and their Melbourne equivalent (this includes you Ruxton. I know that you drink the stuff) are partying hard in the national capital, unemployment is on the rise, the trade deficit has blown out, funding to Universities and TAFE Colleges has been slashed and health is also being cut.

I said I wanted a republic, but only if is not going to cost a cent. Otherwise, let's just be realistic here, none of these problems are going to vanish overnight.

The whole thing is a complete and utter waste of money.

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