It was typical of the man. Some of the most prominent defenders of the Crown had assembled at Sydney’s Union Club to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee, including two former prime ministers and a former head of state.
Michael Kirby had only just begun his address. But then there was consternation in the room; one of the guests had passed out. And who was first to attend to him, give him first aid, and then bound down the stairs to make sure the ambulance was coming? None other than the 28th prime minister, Tony Abbott. I phoned him about another matter two days later. The first thing he told me was that the man, whose name he recalled accurately, had recovered.
As I said, this is typical of the man. He has that sense of service Sandhurst cadets are taught is the essential characteristic of leadership, being ‘free from the slightest trait of self-interest’.
As indeed was the subject of the celebration, ‘Our Sovereign Lady The Queen.’
And in so describing her, that splendid jewel of the English language, the Book of Common Prayer, nowhere refers to her as ‘Head of State’.
Although debate about the head of state is scheduled to be the centrepiece of Mr Albanese’s second term – if there is one – few if any Australians are lying awake at night wondering just who their head of state is.
Until republicans abandoned all their ridiculous reasons for spending billions on turning us into a politicians’ republic, few had ever heard of the term. It wasn’t in the Macquarie Dictionary and only diplomats and international lawyers regularly used it. (As I have taught international law in several universities and been asked by a foreign university to sit on a relevant doctoral assessment panel, I can claim to have some understanding of the term.)
Back at the Union Club, I told the assembly about the last time I had seen the Queen. To my surprise, a smiling prime minister, Julia Gillard, had recognised me and, without any notes, graciously presented me to the Queen.
I in turn introduced young Jai Martinkovits as Australians for Constitutional Monarchy’s executive director and as such, the current successor to Tony Abbott. The Queen ever so slightly raised an eyebrow and said, ‘Really’. I took that as a statement of interest, indeed approval.
The royal visit was one where I had sent out the usual tongue-in-cheek warning to monarchists, ‘Never stand between visiting royalty and republicans – otherwise, you’ll be knocked over in the rush.’ I did not think that it would have applied at the reception. But Jai, who has broad shoulders, had to use them to block a republican senator from jumping the line. Have republicans no shame?
Just reflecting on Tony Abbott’s rush to help the man who collapsed made me think of what a terrible thing the success of the Turnbull coup was. Like Donald Trump, Tony was the object of treacherous undermining from the very beginning, aided by collaborators in the mainstream media. Instead of reporting, they see it as their role to make the news and force change. They did the same to John Howard, the best prime minister since Sir Robert Menzies.
Which brings me to the Australian’s recent full-page piece to tell us about Tina Brown’s ‘radical blueprint to rescue the monarchy’.
Now just who is Tina Brown? The ‘queen of royal biographers,’ said the Australian. But Philip Hensher’s Spectator conclusion about her book Palace Letters is revealing. ‘Royal gossip,’ he says, ‘is largely invented… but Tina Brown repeats it regardless.’ The fact is, he says, you can make anything up about the royal family and it will be printed as a matter of fact. Or broadcast, as the recent TV series The Crown illustrates.
There are three ridiculous proposals in Ms Brown’s ‘blueprint’. She claims it’s clear that most of the fifteen Commonwealth realms will want to become republics under Charles. Not true; whenever the people are actually asked, as they have been in three realms, they say ‘No’. She proposed Charles announce he will no longer serve as head of state (she obviously doesn’t understand the law and practice in Australia) unless the local population votes for him to remain in a referendum. But the last thing governments like the Barbadian will do is call a referendum. They have seen what happened when the St Vincent government did this and lost.
Her proposals get sillier. Charles should then step down from being Head of the Commonwealth (which is certainly not the federation she claims it is). There is nobody else who can be Head. If it were to rotate, we would have had Idi Amin and Robert Mugabe.
Her ‘remedy’ for the pushy nobodies who demonstrate during royal tours to get publicity from a lazy media is for the royal family to embrace issues such as, you guessed it, ‘climate change’. And what do they do when, as Senator Canavan points out, net-zero is dead?
Then she wants Charles to play his ‘joker card’ and bring back Harry and Meghan to be ‘successful’ ambassadors for the new Commonwealth. Rather than rescuing the monarchy, these recommendations will destroy it. So why publish this?
The answer may lie in a recent editorial praising the Queen for her seventy years of service. The Australian completely spoiled the effect by having a laudatory paragraph at the end about the appointment of an assistant minister for the republic.
The Australian still has egg on its face over its referendum campaign. It’s surely time to get over it. A second referendum is doomed to defeat.
The Australian doesn’t want to save the monarchy. No wonder they published this piece. Adopted, it could destroy the institution. Meanwhile, back to where I started. Of the current crop of politicians, the one who has, more than any other, the intellect, experience, capacity and integrity to be in the Lodge is our 28th prime minister, Anthony John Abbott.
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