better Ita Buttrose appointed than Dick Smith elected
I woke on Saturday morning I felt like a real tradesman. My arms ached
and my paws throbbed. There was pain in all my joints. It struck me
then that a fortnight of serious home renovating is pretty much like
a long bushwalk or the second week on the fireline at a serious bushfire
emergency. At the end of the day there's the massive exhaustion, the
meal under makeshift conditions, the early bedtime and the sleep of
the dead. In the morning there's the pain.
staircase from my office to the ceiling was slowly taking shape
problem by problem, amid dust and chaos. It's always the same with old
houses. Everything is connected to everything else, and you struggle
with history, trying to preserve the best and work around the problems.
had cut myself off from the world, reading only the headlines in the
Herald and listening to the radio news, so the referendum snuck up on
me. Even so, it seemed that, in reality nobody cared too much.
Yes mob were running on the idea that nothing much will change, other
than that the 'Head of State' will be an Australian citizen. It was
just a necessary piece of housekeeping, a bit of sentimental nationalism
really. The No People were running on the preposterous idea that without
a hereditary head of state the country would descend rapidly into anarchy.
The chooks would stop laying, statues of Queen Victoria would be pulled
down, the servants would go bolshie and the country would end up being
governed by politicians.
some republicans were asking: "Would Bob Menzies have been a republican?"
And answering "yes". Were they kidding? This was the Liberal
prime minister who wanted to name our unit of currency the 'Royal' when
we went decimal in 1966 an idea laughed out of court by the whole
populace, even in those conservative times!
will really change if we become a republic? If you ask that question
the answers are all in the realms of psychology. An act of maturity.
A national coming-of-age. Cutting loose from mother's influence. But
the rich will still get richer and the poor relatively poorer, the Aboriginal
people will still be battling uphill for every bit of social improvement,
farmers will still do dumb things to the environment, the regions will
still get dudded by the capital cities and the class struggle will go
on just as it did before.
whole republican thing looks like, well let me put it this way: some
merchant bankers salve their consciences by getting involved in worthy
projects to do with The Arts and others become republican luminaries.
how are you going to vote?" Joadja asked, when she brought lunch
up from the café. It was almost the first time we'd discussed
keep forgetting that wildlife don't have the vote", I said, "But
if I did get to vote I'd vote Yes to the republic and No to the preamble
ghastly second-rate mission statement that it is".
the direct election thing?"
bugger that! The direct electionists what do they want? If they
only want a ceremonial president, why the big fuss over directly electing
one? Direct election would just become another very expensive political
circus. Or do the direct electionists really harbour a weird political
fantasy about a charismatic national figure as a powerful president
with wide reaching powers, a person 'above politics', an anti-politician?
No, far, far better to have an Ita Buttrose appointed than a Dick Smith
elected", I replied.
I'll be voting Yes because a victory for the Yes vote would be a blow
to the hereditary principle", Joadja said. "Why don't you
take a break on Friday night and we'll go down to the Three Weeds at
Rozelle and take in the National Junk Band's Pre-Referendum Extravaganza?"
not?" I replied. "You know what I believe in: happy music
in the pub and long walks in the rain".
in Whispers from the mean streets
-- Best of 1999