Friday, June 5, 2009

A Fond Farewell to dear Liz

In his first 2008 Boyer Lecture, Rupert Murdoch urged Australians to declare their independence from Britain. "The establishment of a republic of Australia will not slight the Queen, nor will it deny the British traditions, values and structures that have served us so well" he said. As usual, Murdoch got straight to the heart of the matter. He is right when he says it would be a mistake to rush into a republic without acknowledging the role Britain played in defining our national character. Whether we like it or not, Britain made us what we are today. And I suspect there can be no harmonious transition to a republic without acknowledging the civilising effect of the monarchy on our history.

However, don't imagine Her Majesty will take offence at Australian's cutting the apron-string. She won't. In 1999 the rejection of the republic referendum was more an expression of popular mistrust of politicians than an indication of royalist sentiment. When told of the result the Queen said she would continue to serve as Queen of Australia under the Constitution. But she made it clear she would not stand in the way of a republic. "I have always made it clear that the future of the monarchy in Australia is an issue for the Australian people and them alone to decide, by democratic and constitutional means", she said.

The National Chair of the Australian Republican Movement, Michael Keating says it would be wrong to wait until the Queen dies before acting. "Philosophically it is wrong for us to link our national future to the health of a dear old lady living in England", Keating said. "People who say, 'I love Elizabeth but don't like Charles' are not putting their belief in any system".

It will no doubt take a couple of years to 'go through the process' of cutting ties with Britain. Perhaps Australia had better hurry up. A poll on Prince Charles's 60th birthday found 72% of Britons did not want Camilla to be Queen. Britain may be a republic before us.