28 May 2003

Bourbon Republicans
Greg Craven opines today in the Australian Financial Review (subscription only) that various options such as a president elected by the parliament or the people will not happen because no prime minister would ever agree. He gives a replay of the customary ARM arguments from the 1998 convention.

My favourite moment at the convention was ARM Delegate Mary Delahunty leaping to her feet at the convention and imploring the direct election push as follows:

Convince me that a public contest for the votes and affection of the Australian people will not produce a president owing debts. Convince me that it is not only political parties or big corporations with the resources to mount a national campaign for president. Convince me that a jurist with the soul of a poet, a writer with the insights of an angel or just a citizen of independence and skill could compete in the public contest against the might of a media mogul or the tyranny of celebrity.

Delegate Delahunty was standing at the time in front of the ARM front bench, a front bench that starred the richest woman in the country, the anchor of Who wants to be a millionaire?, a lipstick magnate, a former premier of NSW, the wife of a former prime minister, a leading Australian comedian, and a variety of other ARM, well, um, celebrities. But I digress.

The prime minister is an important player in debating the republic but really a fairly minor player beside the main one. The Australian people want an elected non-executive president. What a prime minister is about to agree to is insignificant compared with what the Australian people are willing to vote for. The ARM model died the night of the referendum. The Bourbon republicans should remember that. Right now articles like Greg Craven's tell us only that the Bourbon republicans have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing about a model which the nation as a whole and every state and territory except the ACT rejected.

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