15 January 2018

Monarchy or Republic?

I don't normally post articles with out an attribution link, but The Australian is behind a hard pay-wall. A friend copied this from someone's post online, and I copied it from him to pass it on. It's well worth the read!

The Australian 12:00AM January 15, 2018
Australia is not a great country says former Labor prime minister Paul Keating. And neither is New Zealand or Canada. Why? Because, according to Keating: “No great state has ever had the monarch of another country as its head of state.”
Millions beg to differ. When Labor last governed the nation, more than 50,000 people risked their lives to arrive, uninvited, on our shores. It’s a fair bet that given half a chance, the rest of the estimated 63.5 million refugees, ­asylum-seekers and internally displaced people would also vote with their feet in favour of Australia compared with the republics from which they are all fleeing.
Because although Keating might not have noticed, of the major source countries of refugees there’s not a monarchy among them, their own or borrowed.
In first place, the Syrian Arab Republic (5½ million refugees), then the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (more than 2½ million), the Republic of South Sudan (almost 1½ million) and the Federal Republic of Somalia (more than one million); in the less than one million category, the Republic of Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Eritrea (a single-party presidential republic), the Republic of Burundi, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Republic of Iraq, the Republic of Colombia, the Republic of Rwanda, the Ukraine (another republic), the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Mali and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
As for economic migrants, Australia and Canada are two of the top destinations, so much so that 28 per cent of our population is foreign-born as is 22 per cent of the population of Canada.
And the top source countries? All republics — the Republic of India (15.6 million), the United Mexican States (12.3 million), the Russian Federation (10.6 million), the People’s Republic of China (9.5 million) and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh (7.2 million).
What makes these republics so great compared with constitutional monarchies, which include Labor’s social democratic pin-ups — Sweden, Norway, Denmark and The Netherlands?
Aha, you might say, the country that has accepted more migrants and refugees than any other is the greatest republic of them all, the United States of America. But that would not gladden Keating, who warns that a popularly elected president would be “a disaster”.
“We could end up with a Don­ald Trump personality as the singular presidential person in Australia,” he wails.
“The mere fact that that person is the only person popularly elected will draw all of the political power. The position of the prime minister and the cabinet will be mightily diminished.” Indeed.
But a former Labor prime minister should be able to see that a head of state appointed by parliament is also fraught with danger. Under such a model, Gough Whitlam could have appointed John Kerr president rather than governor-general, and perhaps been dismissed even more readily, since the president of a new Australian republic might be less likely to feel bound by law and would not be constrained by the weight of convention or precedent since there would be none.
Republics are less stable than monarchies precisely because they are not bound by tradition. France, one of the more successful, has had five republics since the revolution as well as the First and Second French Empires, the Bourbon Restoration and the ­ignoble Vichy regime.
Germany’s Weimar Republic succumbed all too quickly to fascism. As have most of the republics of Latin America and Africa, except for those that have been set up or taken over by communists or other despots who haven’t bothered with an ideology to justify their tyranny.
Keating’s objection to the British monarchy may be rooted, like that of many Australians of Irish descent, in a visceral antipathy towards the English, whom he has railed against for various sins including that during the darkest days of World War II, they “decided not to defend the Malaysian Peninsula, not to worry about Singapore, and not to give us our troops back to keep ourselves free from Japanese domination”.
Keating pays scant regard to the threats Britain was facing — London had been blitzed, the French had surrendered, even the Channel Isles were under the jackboot. Nor does he mention Ireland, “the land of his ancestors”, which cared so little as to whether Australia was invaded, or who won the war, that they didn’t even bother to fight. Indeed, when Hitler committed suicide, the Irish prime minister offered his condolences to the German embassy.
If Australia becomes a republic, there is every reason to hope that it will continue to prosper, thanks to strongly entrenched British institutions. If the nation has not opted for change to date, it is probably thanks to that great Australian principle: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Republicans, on both sides of the political divide, seem determined to ignore that advice rather than focus on the tasks that we elected them to tackle — cutting waste, ending the debt and deficit, keeping the lights on without sending us broke.
In that respect, Keating was right when he said that without a sensible economic policy, Australia will end up being a third rate economy, “a ­banana republic”. Amen to that.

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