Tuesday, 19 January 2010
To tell the truth, I am not greatly exercised by the Monarchist vs. Republican debate that comes to life periodically in Australia when a member of the Royal Family visits or is mired in scandal. On the one hand, I am not over-enamoured of the Windsors (must be my Scottish blood!), although I will admit to a certain sentimental attachment to the Queen, after all I've sung 'God Save the Queen' often enough at school assemblies to feel a twinge of disloyalty at the thought of voting her off her Australian throne. On the other hand, I admire the American republican ethos at its best, although a monarchy that sits above party politics is definitely preferable, I would say, to having the Head of State bound by party allegiance.
So, I remain a constitutional monarchist as far as Australia's polity is concerned. For me, it comes down to pragmatics rather than dogma - a limited, constitutional monarchy is demonstrably the most stable form of government in the modern world, and I see no compelling reason to change our present system, even though it means we must live with the apparent anomaly of having a foreigner as monarch of Australia - I'm sure that makes no sense to our American cousins!
On the occassion of Prince William's visit to these shores, a former parliamentarian, Ross Cameron, has put the case for a limited, constitutional monarchy in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. He writes that, " Absolute monarchy is inherited dictatorship and abhorrent. But a limited monarchy is democracy with an umpire at the apex whose sole executive role is to resolve political stalemates. Some modern minds feel it is old-fashioned or anti-democratic but despite its quirks, it works. The most politically stable and free nations are limited monarchies - Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands, among others. Japan has enjoyed its best 63 years since installing a limited monarchy. In the Middle East, Jordan and Morocco stand out among their historically strife-torn neighbours."
Cameron also writes that Prince William's charisma may see a boost in the hitherto waning popularity of the Royal Family in Australia. That remains to be seen, although it would be a welcome development, but the pragmatic argument is hard to go past, not to mention the historical and cultural continuity that maintaining the present Australian constitution provides.
Click on the post title to read his article in full.