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Australian Current Affairs

Australian republic debate a distraction, says Opposition Leader Tony Abbott


Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott says Wayne Swan should concentrate on running the economy rather than raising “red herrings” like the republic debate.

The Treasurer revived the republican debate in a Fairfax opinion piece today, saying a reflection on cricket’s 1930s Bodyline series should hasten the creation of an Australian republic.

But the Opposition Leader – an ardent monarchist – dismissed the column as a diversion.

“I think people expect the Treasurer of this country to be getting on with the job of running our economy instead of raising red herrings,” he said.

“It’s hardly a month since the Treasurer surreptitiously dumped his promise to achieve a surplus. This was a promise that he and the Prime Minister had made on more than 200 separate occasions and now it’s done.

“This is a government which has failed its own test of economic competence and I think the Australian people want the Treasurer to focus on his job, not on distractions.”

Opposition frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull, a former Australian Republican Movement chairman, said it was “always a good time” to talk about becoming a republic, but he criticised Mr Swan’s contribution.

“The one thing that is not a good argument certainly not an effective argument for being a republic, is to turn it into a Pom-bashing, anti-British, anti-English, let alone anti-Royal family type of argument,” Mr Turnbull told ABC radio.

“It has to be a thoroughly pro-Australian argument.

“It’s about saying: we rejoice in and revel in and love this country so much, and respect and love our fellow countrymen and women so much, that only one of them is good enough to be our head of state.”

In his column, Mr Swan said the Bodyline series left an impression on Australia’s consciousness.

“I believe that reflecting on those events will eventually hasten the approach of an Australian republic, even if it has fallen from the national agenda over the past decade,” Mr Swan wrote.

“While England will always be our most respected cricketing foe, and among our very closest allies, I think our national conversation is sold short when it does not include a debate about our relationship with the Crown”

ARM chairman Geoff Gallop welcomed Mr Swan’s move to revive the debate, saying the Queen was an inappropriate head of state for Australia.

“Australians are telling us that we have developed our own identity, that with respect for our past we should embrace the future as simply Australian, with fully Australian national institutions,” he said.

“Becoming a republic means we will complete our journey to a full and easily recognisable independence and maturity as a nation, with one of us as head of state.”

Professor Gallop said he would like to see a plebiscite on becoming a republic in the next parliamentary term.

Source: The Australian “Republic debate a distraction: Tony Abbott”
 
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