Australian Republicans in dire need of a strategy
I'M NOT a commentator, but...
This week, our PM met our Queen.
It's a common enough courtesy afforded by the Palace to visiting leaders (although one hopes Her Majesty can be spared the endurance of having to smile and greet the American idiot).
Not for the first time, an event such as this has whipped the Australian Republican Movement into a mini media frenzy. One truly has to pity them. They don't get much exposure unless they're grabbing the coattails of some royal event; no matter how unspectacular.
In the decades since they first came to any sort of public attention, the ARM has failed to establish any kind of traction; especially after the failure of the 1999 referendum.
One has to question their strategy - if they actually have a strategy.
The ARM's latest call is for yet another costly referendum. This time in 2022. Perhaps they've become a tad excited after the census results indicated even less of our population is of English stock these days.
But the question has to be asked as to whether, despite the fact the current PM once led the ARM, whether the hearts of the majority of Australians are actually in it. The PM meeting the Queen hardly engenders the rage of the peasantry.
A royal scandal might do it. But we haven't had any of them lately. Unless they've been slipping under the radar as we've been more fixated on our own home-grown political scandals and soap operas.
Are we that fired up about changing our head of state? What would it mean?
The cynics amongst us are entitled to think that replacing the monarch with a president would result in the creation of just another job for the boys.
Clearly, the form of presidency the ARM previously advocated for (where Parliament and not the people would appoint a president) could become a way for a government of whatever colour to award their own mob rather than anyone of real merit.
Just as Hawke gave the governor-generalship as a consolation prize to Hayden, one might see a Turnbull appointing an Abbott, hoping the bloke might finally shut up. But that could turn into a two-edged sword.
Turkey provides the example of what can happen when an astute politician turns a purely ceremonial post of president into a position of almost absolute power by using popularity and cunning to erode the power of Parliament.
I'm not saying that would happen here, but is anything these days an absolute certainty?
People want stability. The monarchy and the Westminster System have served this country well. We really don't need to replace the symbol of a crown with some yet-to-be defined symbol of republic to make us feel more Australian.
We already have our own identity even with the English monarch as head of state. It's good enough for us and it's also good enough for Canada by the way.
And even the most minimal of the changes previously proposed would have cost a sum of money that would make our failed World Cup bid look like chicken feed.
Haven't we more important things to be spending money on? Domestic violence? Homelessness? Energy security?
Perhaps we should ask the mum and kids sleeping in their car tonight if the prospect of an Australian republic makes them feel all warm and fuzzy.
On the other hand, the era following Elizabeth becomes more problematic.
Clearly Charles and Camilla have an image problem that would make Wills and Kate more preferable as monarch and consort.
This is when the ARM would probably gain their best support for change.
However, being the cheeky Antipodeans we tend to be, there is another alternative (and one my dear old late Danish-born great granny would surely support):
The new generation of the Danish royalty is half-Australian. We could always requisition one of the spares and set up our own monarchy.
What could be more Ocker than King Vince of Tassie?