Australia Day, an annual celebration of our people. It’s a day when we acclaim the achievements of our citizens, and anoint one as our proudest. Hundreds from all over the globe pledge loyalty to our beliefs and laws. In backyards, parks and beaches we gather with family and friends to enjoy our freedom and our natural environment.
Although the day marks the establishment of the British colony, Australia Day is really a celebration of who we are - a democratic, independent people who value fairness, equality and having a go.
Unfortunately, our Constitution fails to accurately reflect the nation of people that we are, and all that we have achieved.
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If you crave yet another clue as to the level of plot-loss we humans have achieved, dare to consider the recent trumpeting of an upcoming British baby boom.
And confuse yourselves not – this has nothing to do with the fruitful joining of loins between Kate and Wills, although there is, as often is the case, a royal angle.
Rises in birth rates are not new; historically they arrived during periods of plenty, times when one’s tribe was not being overrun by another tribe or when pickings were slim on telly during a long winter in the cave. However, this next one in the old country is being credited to the unlikely collision of two events – the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the success of the nation’s go at running the Olympics.
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The Queen has just spent four days celebrating her Diamond Jubilee. She did so in what they call grand style. Good for her. She is a good stick. She cheers up the people of England, the family she heads generates tourism, and she does kindly deeds for benevolent causes.
She is also our head of state. Don’t worry, as a republican I am not about to use the occasion of her 60-year reign to reheat the dusty old arguments for constitutional change. We had our chance in 1999 and we blew it. In the absence of any mainstream political will to revisit the issue, we are stuck with the Queen and her heirs for a very long time. Our lives as Australians are not materially different for that fact, even if that fact is anachronistic and jars with our national belief in meritocracy.
What interested me more about the Diamond Jubilee was the image it presented of England itself, and what a sad and sorry joint it has become.
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Alexander Downer has a disturbing lack of faith in Australia and Australians. How else to explain his column in The Advertiser where he appeared to suggest without the good graces of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Australia would slip into some sort of blood-soaked revolution.
Mr Downer invoked the situation in Libya, mentioned the horrors of the Russian Revolution and even the French Revolution then pondered why our nation is “quiet, placid, peaceful Australia”.
His conclusion? The Queen.
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We now know courtesy of the Queen’s meeting with horseracing king Bart Cummings that Her Majesty is not much of a punter. Were she so inclined, the Queen could do worse than wagering a lazy fiver on the chances of the British Royal Family seeing off any renewed push by Australian Republicans for constitutional change.
I write this as a republican of the most common kind; the do-nothing kind, the kind who is slightly irritated that we had our chance at constitutional change and blew it, but doesn’t care enough to do anything about revisiting the issue.
The two things which jarred with me most about the republican push in Australia were the ineffective tactics used to market constitutional change, with the yes vote spearheaded by two of our worst prime ministers, the economically incompetent Gough Whitlam and the do-nothing Malcolm Fraser, and the overblown claims as to the impact any change would have on our national psyche, as if we are somehow a weak and insipid nation for being a constitutional monarchy.
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Tired of scrutinising slow-mo footage of suspicious ripples in Beyonce’s baby bump, I’m pleased to announce that we’re free to analyse another equally significant, universe-buckling event.
The Prime Minister didn’t curtsy to the Queen. No. I don’t think you understand. PRIME MINISTER. DIDN’T CURTSY. QUEEN. Surprisingly the police weren’t called, but the indignant tutting of monarchists could be heard from space, much like the Governor General’s outfit.
See, ‘curtsy’ is an abbreviation of the word ‘courtesy’. Well, it probably is – I leave that kind of research to proper journalists. They sound similar though, and that can’t be a coincidence, right? It’s similar to the way that ‘Negus’ is short for ‘Never Give Up Sixty Minutes’, in that I made it up just then.
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Her Majesty will be warmly and enthusiastically welcomed today because it is always a grand occasion when Australia’s head of state is actually on Australian soil.
Rare, but grand nevertheless. Mind you, she is only here because of next week’s Commonwealth summit in Perth.
We outsoure the pinnacle position in our democratic structure but the woman herself is splendidly separate from that awkward constitutional arrangement. She is special.
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He’s finally done it. After nine years together, approximately 76 fascinators and most of Will’s head of hair, the second in line to the throne has managed to get down on bended knee and give his long-time girlfriend one hell of a sparkler (12 carats in fact).
It propels Kate Middleton, long the fodder of the voracious paparazzi pack and Hello! devotees, well and truly into the global spotlight.
And it is today that the work really begins for Catherine Middleton. She faces perhaps the most daunting and dramatic transformations, to somehow deftly emerge from the shadow of one the most iconic, albeit neurotic, personalities of the 20th century.
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Bob Hawke has nit the nail on the head – he’s called for a referendum on the issue of a republic and suggests the voters should be asked one simple question: do they want a change to the constitution after the Queen dies?
Hawkie is right – dead right, but why wait until the 84 year old Queen of England goes to that other throne on the sky. Her mother’s family is known for its longevity – she could last another ten to fifteen years; which would put Charles (that’s if he outlives his mum) well into his 70’s and more removed in relevance to Australia than ever, and young William would be coming up to forty and we can only hope by then he’s come to realize that he didn’t want the job anyway.
It was interesting that the subject raised by Hawke came up in the week of the foreign monarch’s 84th birthday which went totally unnoticed except for – wait for it - David Flint, the blue rinse set from Sydney’s North Shore and members of the Flat Earth Society.
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Summer in London is all about Wimbledon and Pimms and illegal Hyde Park swims.
It’s cricket, it’s walks by the Thames and musings about the weather … oh yeah and it’s the odd invitation to take tea with the Queen in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, in a gentile setting that dates back to 1609.
In what is akin to finding a gold wrapper to Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, an invitation to the royal soiree is indeed one’s highlight of one’s social calendar.
I don’t know Lord Chamberlain personally, but I reckon he’s probably a top bloke.
It might have been my name (after all Charlie found a gold wrapper) but the heavy card invitation mailed to my home read: “The Lord Chamberlain is commanded by Her Majesty to invite Mr and Mrs Charles Miranda Esq to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.”
Up you go son ! Very exciting.
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