The Queen’s 2013 Christmas Message

Queen Elizabeth II has delivered her annual Christmas message to the Commonwealth.

Queen

The theme of the 87-year-old monarch’s televised address was “reflection”. It focussed on the birth of her great-grandson and heir, Prince George, the 60th anniversary of her coronation in 1953, and looked ahead to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year. [Read more…]


Governor-General Quentin Bryce Calls For A Republic And Same-Sex Marriage

The Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, has called for an Australian republic and same-sex marriage in the last of her Boyer Lectures, delivered just four months before she retires from the Vice-Regal role.

Bryce

Bryce’s remarks came at the end of a speech titled “Advance Australia Fair”. She concluded by imagining a nation of care and equality, “where people are free to love and marry whom they choose and where, perhaps, my friends, one day, one young girl or boy may even grow up to be our nation’s first head of state”. [Read more…]


Gareth Evans Maintains The Rage

By Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Sir John Kerr was the worst of Australia’s Governors-General and his legacy was to delay the emergence of an Australian republic, former Labor minister Gareth Evans will tell a seminar today.

Professor Evans will say that Sir John, who dismissed Gough Whitlam from the prime ministership, had a “catastrophic” tenure.

It was not marked by dignity, competence or effectiveness. He showed “far less dispassionate non-partisanship than any politician incumbent of the office [of Governor General].”

Professor Evans, Chancellor of the Australian National University, will open the seminar on “Values and Visions of Australia’s Governors-General,” at ANU. [Read more…]


Bodyline, The Economy And A Republic: Wayne Swan Joins The Dots

The Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has released an Australia Day article that draws a series of connections between the 1930s Bodyline cricket series, the contemporary economy and a future republic.

SwanSwan remembers Bodyline as typifying Australian resistance to English imperial superiority. He sees Australia defending “fair play” and playing “within both the letter and the spirit of the rules”. Australia’s code, says Swan, is “not a gentleman’s code” but “a democratic code”.

Linking Bodyline with the 1930s Depression, Swan says “Australians didn’t cause that Depression and to a very great extent we were powerless to tackle it..because we lacked full economic sovereignty”.

Swan says Bodyline and the Great Depression “helped awaken a democratic and egalitarian assertion of Australian national sovereignty that still serves us well on Australia Day 2013.”

Despite the fact that the Rudd and Gillard governments have done nothing over the past five years to promote constitutional change, Swan says reflection on Bodyline and the Depression “will eventually” have the legacy of “hastening the approach of an Australian republic”.

Swan’s argument is similar in style to his musings last year on Bruce Springsteen’s opposition to economic privilege. In his John Button Oration, Swan sought to emphasise democratic and egalitarian values at the heart of the Labor government’s value system.

Swan’s article today is an attempt to add to the over-arching story the government has been developing as the federal election draws near.

Text of an article released by the Treasurer, Wayne Swan.

Forged in Fair Play – 80 Years on From Bodyline

It has been another eventful Australian summer, marked by bushfires that have once again tested some of our nation’s most important values: our capacity to stick together in a crisis, help out those who need help, display coolness, competence and courage under pressure.

In a time of transition, with our nation on the cusp of the Asian Century, our values are the most treasured commodities we possess, ones which will always endure. So as we celebrate this Australia Day, it is worth reflecting on the origins and nature of Australia’s national values.

There’s no one source of our national character. It comes from our indigenous heritage, from the struggles of the convicts and early settlers, the Federation period with its conflicts and mateship, and of course our nation’s experiences on the battlefields of war. [Read more…]


Malcolm Turnbull’s Speech On Republican Virtues: Truth, Leadership & Responsibility

Malcolm Turnbull has delivered a speech on truth, leadership and responsibility in which he argues that there is a “deficit of trust” in the Australian political system.

Malcolm TurnbullThe speech is likely to cause a stir in the Liberal Party. By implication, Turnbull takes a swipe at his 1990s monarchists opponents, John Howard and Tony Abbott, over their campaign of “utterly dishonest misinformation” during the Republic referendum campaign.

Turnbull is dismissive of climate change denialists and the shock jocks who promote them. Again by implication, he attacks Alan Jones and others: “Dumbing down complex issues into sound bites, misrepresenting your or your opponent’s policy does not respect ‘Struggle Street’, it treats its residents with contempt.”

Turnbull is critical of Question Time in parliament. He says of the Opposition’s approach: “For the last two years the questions from the Opposition have been almost entirely focussed on people smuggling and the carbon tax. Are they really the only important issues facing Australia? A regular viewer of Question Time would be excused for thinking they were.”

Whilst Turnbull says the problem with Question Time is its focus on the Prime Minister, his comments will most likely be seen as a criticism of Abbott’s parliamentary tactics.

Text of Malcolm Turnbull’s George Winterton Lecture at the University of Western Australia.

Republican virtues: Truth, leadership and responsibility.

Tonight’s lecture honours the memory of a most virtuous republican, our friend George Winterton, who despite the inestimable love and prayers of his wife, Rosalind, died in 2008 at the far too young age of 61.

My topic for this lecture is “Republican virtues – truth, leadership and responsibility.”

I will weave together a little about the republican debate in which George and I were generally comrades in arms (although at times comrades at arms length) with some reflections on the decline of the news media, the not unrelated coarsening in the dialogue between politicians and those who elect them about choices and challenges we face as a community, and the resulting dismay with which far too many Australians currently view their parliaments.

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The visitor to Washington DC is quickly reminded that the founders of the American Republic were fascinated, intoxicated perhaps, with another republic, Rome.

Jefferson, entranced with a Roman temple in Nimes writes to his friend Madame de Tesse. “Here I am madam gazing whole hours at the maison quaree like a lover at his mistress.”

But it was not just the architecture of Rome that inspired the founders. Rejecting the British monarchy which oppressed them, and apprehensive of unbridled democracy, they appealed to the example of the noble Romans, the republican Romans, Cincinnatus, Fabius, Cato – men who had selflessly served the state and defended the rights of the people against tyranny just as the Pilgrims had opposed the established church.

Although separated by two thousand years, but very much alive in the libraries of New England, Puritans and Romans fused in the American imagination as a republic of virtue.

The American revolutionaries, common lawyers after all, reached back to a lost republic just as they were creating a brave new world of their own.

We will not linger tonight to debate again which virtues were republican or how they could be reflected in a constitution or whether, indeed, Jefferson was right in equating republican virtue with free farmers whose sturdy arcadian independence he contrasted with the wage slaves of the factories and emporiums of the city. [Read more…]


Paul Keating Interview On Sky News

This is a rare one-on-one extended interview with former Prime Minister Paul Keating.

It was shown on Sky News The Nation on December 15, 2011.

Amongst other topics, Keating talks about the state of current politics, Aboriginal reconciliation, the Republic issue, and his relationship with Bob Hawke.


Talking 110 Years of the Australian Constitution

I’ve just done a radio spot with Tim Shaw on Sydney’s 2UE, discussing the Australian Constitution which is 110 years old this weekend.

[Read more…]