Constitutional change is a double standard of breathtaking proportion, writes Rowan Dean
SO HERE’S how to be a hypocrite in modern Australia.
First, jump up and down and blather on about the need to change our Constitution to recognise the critical role indigenous Australians played in our collective past.
Then, jump up and down (preferably with a red bandanna on your head or a fat cigar in your mouth) and blather on about the need to change our Constitution to remove recognition of the critical role imperial Brits played in our collective past.
Oh, and while you’re at it, make a big fuss (it’s the centenary after all) of how much you admire the Anzacs and wish to honour their “spirit”.
Timing is everything, and the renewed push for a republic couldn’t have been timed with more exquisite perfection to highlight just how two-faced and idiotic the entire enterprise is.
Start with indigenous recognition. What is being asked of everyday Australians is that we vote “yes” in a referendum in order to amend our Constitution (ie our legal framework) to reflect, somehow, the idea that there wouldn’t be a modern Australia were it not for the fact that indigenous Australians were the first people to inhabit the continent.
The gesture will be a symbolic nod to the past, and no doubt that symbolism will be further enhanced with endless smoking ceremonies, “welcome to country” prayers and the like.
Also, if Noel Pearson has his way, there will be some kind of indigenous “committee of elders” that Parliament can call on to offer opinions on legislation that pertains specifically to indigenous Australians.
Next comes the republic. What is being asked of everyday Australians is that we vote “yes” in a different referendum to also amend that very same constitution – our legal framework, remember – in order to remove, formally and irrevocably, the key symbolic connection to those who actually framed it.
This despite the fact there wouldn’t be a modern Australia if it weren’t for the Brits investing untold wealth and human toil in this land as part of their Empire, thereby giving modern Australia the very laws, justice system and democratic structures that make it one of the most successful, prosperous and enviable nations on Earth.
The Aussie monarchy today is unique – a ceremonial nod to the past that is every bit as symbolic as a smoking ceremony. Similarly, the role of our monarch is little different, and certainly far less politically powerful, than the sounding board proposed by Mr Pearson and his whitebearded elders.
So, on the one hand we change our Constitution to emphasise an important part of our history that we overlooked at the time, while simultaneously we amend our Constitution to erase from memory one of the most fundamental parts of that history.
Not sure about you, but I find that not only a double standard of breathtaking proportion, but worse, unbelievably creepy in its Orwellian manipulation of the past.
But the bad timing doesn’t stop there. We are currently – rightly – celebrating the centenary of the Anzac defeat at Gallipoli. For so many reasons that are too complex to go into here, the sad Anzac tale has become the defining
THERE WOULDN’T BE A MODERN AUSTRALIA IF IT WEREN’T FOR THE