The birth of the baby Prince is of great importance and significance to Australia. It reinforces our oldest institution – one of the fundamental pillars of our nation – the Australian Crown.
One of the fascinating aspects of our monarchy is that it constantly renews itself. In recent years we have seen – with many millions around the world – the Royal Wedding of William and Kate and later that year the visit of The Queen farewelled by well over 100,000 on the banks of the Swan River. Now we have the birth of a Prince - the third in line to the throne. It is the monarchy’s unique ability to unite the nation, old and young and those from different cultures and religions, which ensures that it continues to remain as relevant today as it has been for centuries. In fact, after the aged, the lowest support for a politicians’ republic is to be found among the young and those new to our country.
Aside from their long held affection for The Queen, Australians intrinsically understand that the Crown provides leadership beyond politics. As Sir Winston Churchill noted, the Crown is important not so much for the power it wields, but for the power it denies others.
In these times of political turbulence, whatever their political persuasions, Australians cherish an institution which unites rather than divides. Just as they do that other wonderful symbol of national unity – the Australian Flag.
Australians are also fascinated by the Royal Family who are always, as Walter Bagehot indicated – and the media interest testifies – interesting people, doing interesting things. And there is a very human level connection that an event like a Royal Birth offers. It reminds us that the Royal Family is, underneath it all, just like everybody else. The fact is reinforced by William and Kate expressing their intention to be much more hands on parents than other monarchs have traditionally been.
Further, the birth of the baby Prince demonstrates the centrality of the Family in our society. The attention of the nation is concentrated on the birth of a child in the same way that constantly occurs in families across Australia.
This emphasis on the Family is a feature of The Crown and not something for which the political arm lends itself. Our politicians, understandably, put their families in another more private compartment. And why do they almost invariably use their family when they explain their premature retirement on generous superannuation? This is almost always followed by vast consultancies, directorships and other jobs for the boys and girls.
In a constitutional monarchy, the Royal Family is an integral part of the system. And the succession determines who is to become the Sovereign. Republicans may say that this is not in accordance with their values, but they forget that becoming Sovereign in a modern constitutional monarchy involves a life of service and dedication – as The Queen herself has long demonstrated.
The Royal Baby is born – some would say doomed – to a life of service. Americans are astounded that Prince William and Prince Harry see it as their duty to serve in the defence forces – few children of the leading American families would do that. But that is our Royal Family – they have long lived to serve.
Republicans who think that the end of the reign will mean that Australians will change the constitution forget that their movement has gone backwards. At least in 1999 they were able to explain to the nation precisely what form of politicians’ republic they wanted. Today, apart from vague talk about national identity, they are unable to give one detail about what kind of republic they want. Instead, they have different proposals for taxpayers to fund their search for a model which would scrape through a referendum.
But Australians remain uninterested. The Prince of Cambridge will only reinforce that.
Jai Martinkovits is Executive Director of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy. Follow Jai on Twitter at @jaimartinkovits.
[An edited version of this piece was first published in The Daily Telegraph on 24 July 2013. To access the online version, click here.]
In this interview with Ten News' Hugh Riminton, I speak about the significance of the birth of the Royal Baby to Australia.
If there is one thing Australians can bet their bottom dollar on, it’s that the September 14 referendum on local government recognition is not about the “dignity” of local councillors. More dubiously, it is about megalomaniacs in Canberra, who have just rammed the Bill through both Houses of Parliament, securing power to bypass the states and fund local government to apply federal policy.
What is particularly concerning is the blatantly biased way in which taxpayers’ money is being used to advance a particular outcome. An unprecedented $31.6 million of public funds has been allocated to the “yes” case, including $11.6 million for the heavily skewed “national civics education campaign” which the government admitted will push the “yes” case.
Yet the “no” case is to receive a measly half a million dollars. Surely the significant number of Members and Senators who stood up for our Constitution and against this referendum demonstrates that there should be equal funding for the “no” case?
As if this was not bad enough, the politicians have ensured that Australians receive as little exposure to the “no” case as possible. The Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Bill was amended so that the crucial Yes/No booklet is no longer sent to every voter, but to every household which will ensure that it is treated as junk mail. Further, no longer will the Yes/No booklet utilise the traditional side-by-side format. Instead, the politicians have ensured that the “yes” case appears at the front of the booklet and the “no” case at the back where it is unlikely to be noticed.
With all this being the case, Australians must then ask themselves, why are the politicians, for the third time in fewer than 40 years, wasting taxpayers’ money trying to get this through? Why do they insist on keeping the people voting until, in their minds, they “get it right”?
Fortunately, showing great foresight, our founding fathers protected us from unwelcomed constitutional change by adopting the Swiss-style referendum.
This was by no means an attempt to make constitutional change impossible. Instead, it was to involve the people in the process and to require that all the details be determined in advance. They believed that we the people would then test the proposed change against three important criteria – that it be desirable, irresistible and inevitable. And any sane person would recognise that this referendum falls well and truly short in each area.
There are five serious concerns about local government being recognised as direct recipients of federal grants.
Let’s call a spade a spade; this referendum is not necessary, let alone irresistible.
Irresistible “reforms” are evidenced by such an overwhelming groundswell of support in the community that they cannot be ignored.
In this case, we are seeing an at-best unnecessary change, introduced by a flailing and desperate Gillard government.
There are only two things which are always inevitable – death and taxes.
What is inevitable about this “reform” is that it will result in increased taxes and rates.
Jai Martinkovits is a part of the Citizens’ “No” Campaign, www.nopowergrab.com.au. Follow Jai on Twitter at @jaimartinkovits.
[An edited version of this was first published in The Daily Telegraph, 28 June 2013. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/lopsided-financial-support-for-federal-referendum/story-fni0cwl5-1226671026195]