Where To After The Monarchy?

One of the more pleasurable things that have happened to me in recent times was to become the Chair of the Fitzroy Basin Association (FBA).FBA is one of Queenslands thirteen community based Natural Resource Management (NRM) Groups. As a result of this position I get to sit on the Board of the Queensland Regional NRM Groups Collective. (You can see they didn’t hire a marketing consultant when they came up with that title!) It was in this capacity I got to know Mark Stoneman.
Mark Stoneman became Chairman of NQ Dry Tropics in April 2007.
To give you a feel for the man I have downloaded his profile from the NQ Dry tropics website.
“Mark has a continuing history of contact with the land and its people, from a mixed sheep and grain property in New South Wales to large family sheep and cattle operations in western Queensland and the Desert Uplands.
He was a member of the State and National Councils of the Children’s Parents’ Association (ICPA) in the period 1974-1982 including two terms as Queensland President. He is a Life Member of both the Queensland Council and Cairns Radio Branch of ICPA.
In 1981-1982, Mark introduced live weight wet curfew cattle sales into Queensland for the Queensland Meat and Livestock Authority.
Mark entered the Queensland Parliament in 1983 as the Member for Burdekin and, during the fifteen years prior to his retirement in 1998, he held numerous senior positions in government and opposition including Minister for Primary Industries, Shadow Treasurer and Premier’s Representative in north Queensland.
In 1999, he co-founded the not-for-profit environmental organisation, the Wetlands and Grasslands Foundation. Mark continues to run a small Brahman Cattle Stud near Giru and is Patron of the Giru Show Society and Townsville Gun Club.”
There are no doubts times when I probably would have disagreed with Mark’s politics, but his huge life experience and practical wisdom immediately impressed me as someone who should be listened to. He is very knowledgeable about government and its workings, so when he responded to my little piece about the monarchy I felt compelled to share it with you. This is what he wrote:

“I have being reading your blogs with interest – and sometimes bewilderment (old cowboy, you know) – & just wish to make a brief comment on ‘A small tilt at the monarchy’; you will note I have kept lower case!

Whilst not describing myself as a ‘rabid’ republican, I am very much of the view that once QE2 departs in whatever way this happens, I will probably become more ‘rabid’. I am appalled at the thought of having as ‘our’ monarch a bloke who a) wanted to be a Tampon, & b) talks to flowers: clearly a loony among a long line of similar types.

Having said that, my real concern is as to what form an Australian Republic might take insofar as its Head of State. Like it or not, our current system has served us generally fairly well & with stability so my preference is for a continuation of the system without the ties to an ancient series of accidents of birth, wars, in house arrangements, beheadings etc. In my view these arrangements have what seems a significant benefit to commercial UK, but of no use whatsoever – other than the notation above – to Australia.

I am fearful of a popularly elected ‘President’ because this would simply become a political dog fight & we could end up with Wally Lewis or Cathy Freeman and with it, a very expensive process. Much as I have, from time to time, a contempt for the legal profession I think the US system where the head of the Supreme Court is a de-facto sort of Governor General ( swearing in, etc) would work as long as activists were avoided. The Armed services have also generally been a good resource for middle of the road candidates but the churches should stay at home & tidy up their own mess.

Perhaps a joint sitting of the Federal Parliament as well as a couple from each State (Premier & A-G) with a 2/3 majority might work in confirming from a short list that had run the gamut of a public hearing. The essential issue is to maintain stability of the system with all its warts & moles without disturbing the Constitutional role of the ‘Crown’ which in this case would rest in the office of the ‘Governor General’ and in turn provide continuity at each State level.

I could go on but you get my drift & I suppose this is really a challenge for you to go past the ‘tilt’ and use your intellect to chew on the meat.”

Now, (as usual from Mark) I found that was a pragmatic and quite useful contribution to the debate on the monarchy and I am grateful he has allowed me to share it with you.

13 Replies to “Where To After The Monarchy?”

  1. The possibilities for progressive models of community organisation and government are perplexing, mostly because it’s impossible to know how alternative ideas will unfold in reality.

    The experience of history shows that location of disproportionately great power with one individual is extremely dangerous (it can be equally dangerous anywhere on the continuum between executive Presidency or Prime Ministership in a modern democracy and absolute power in an authoritarian framework – from George Bush to Adolf Hitler). In our own time, the abuses of Presidential Power and unilateral action without popular (democratic) support have had horrifying consequences for countless millions of people outside our own borders.

    I agree that ‘our current system has served us generally fairly well’ but would go one step further to qualify that it hasn’t served ‘them’ to well. ‘Them’ are those less fortunate. In fact, our current system’s service to ‘us’ facilitates the marginalisation of ‘them’. We can certainly do better.

    The words of Mahatma Ghandi are hung in India’s Parliament (the world’s largest dysfunctional democracy): ‘whenever you think of a policy, think of the face of the poorest person you see and ask yourself the question ‘what does this policy do for him or her?’

    The words that govern our directions seem more about thinking of the face of the richest person affected, and asking the same question. Without a doubt, this question is the narrow focus of a media industry driven by commercial interests.

    You can apply a test to this statement just by thinking of how many asylum seekers you have heard comment on the issue of asylum seekers. The disenfranchised don’t get a voice, and are either placed out of sight from our consciousness as a community, or within target range for vilification on fabricated charges of threatening our ‘stability’.

    On the matter of stability and instability, I think principled instability has a democratic influence.

    While our representative democracy falls short of representing the diversity in our community, I have hope that perhaps we might move towards a new arm of government, a people’s parliament that embraces representatives from many different groups, with a mandate to advise and serve us and them.

  2. My knowledge of government, Australian or otherwise is pitiful, which says something about both my own apathy and the education system through, at least the 70’s. That said, I have learnt a bit about people over the years and one thing has become very clear to me; change is something that the vast majority do not like. This is the only reason we still have a monarch. If we are to successfully replace the monarchy, then an alternative needs to be found that has in the eyes of the people very little change/risk.

    If people perceive the “President” is going to do something other than in extreme circumstances it is doomed. Not only that it has to be so simple that no one can even suggest a possible obscure scenario that could cause people to fear it. The campaign like all campaigns today will be fought on a platform of fear. Alternatives need to neutralise this.

  3. Father King Robin, in Reality there are no Queens. Just waves and particles and the infinite possibility. So, instead, you can nominate me to piggyback you in a race against Ted Scott around Callide Power Station. My money is on Ted.

  4. In truth Anne, I could always beat him in a race around Callide Power Station (even without you on his back) but I always relented and hung back to hear whatever nonsense he wanted to entertain me with! He always has had a different point of view and for that I am eternally grateful!

  5. Ted, likewise! I greatly appreciate well meaning non-conformity. And I was offering to piggyback Father Robin!

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