What about an Australian republic now? 402



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Now that we have a strongly pro-republic Prime Minister, questions have inevitably arisen about any renewed push for another constitutional referendum to establish a Republic of Australia.

Malcolm Turnbull was Chairman of the Australian Republican Movement between 1993 and 2000 and he wrote a book, Fighting for the Republic about that failed campaign.

So far, PM Turnbull has been rather coy about the prospects of another referendum and, understandably, has rather more important issues on his plate. But that is not to say he has ever given up his passion for a republic.

There is an unbridgeable gulf between monarchists and republicans although a chum of mine – a gay chap of even more mature years than myself – has suggested a compromise: We have a republic but that the job of President will be only filled by an old queen. That way, he says, the gulf is bridged.

I am a bit suspicious that this proposal was a self-serving job application. But it does add to the mix of ideas in the overall debate – well, he hopes that it will.

I’ve got my own proposal. We have a republic (so the republicans are happy) but the ceremonial job of President (to replace the Governor-General) should be an Australian-born citizen who also has an inherited noble title – and there are quite a few of them. That way the monarchists will be happy – well, less unhappy – with the republic idea because they can still bow to the President and call him “Your Grace” or “My Lord” or whatever salutation is appropriate for the title.

Our most senior noble is Alexander Charles David Drogo Montagu, the 13th Duke of Manchester who was born in Australia in 1962 but has lived most of his life in the USA. He is, and has been, a cad and a scoundrel, marrying three times and accused, among other things, of bigamy, fraud and passing dud cheques. He has served jail time in the USA and once was expelled from Canada. He admits to being flat broke.

His younger brother, Lord Kimble Montagu, a Monash University academic, will inherit the title because the Duke’s children are technically illegitimate because of his bigamy. So, perhaps not His Grace the Duke for President.

Next in line is Malcolm Murray, born in Tasmania in 1946, and the 12th Earl of Dunmore – the second most senior Earldom in the Scottish peerage – who is also Viscount of Fincastle and Lord Murray of Blair, Moulin and Tillinet. And he is one of 92 hereditary peers entitled to sit in the House of Lords.

He and his Countess Joy live quietly on a farm near Davenport.

Then there is Simon Abney-Hastings, the 15th Earl of Lincoln and born in 1972 in Western Australia where he still resides. Next, the 7th Earl of Portarlington, George Lionel Yuill Seymore Dawson-Damer, born in 1938, and has homes in Sydney and Scotland. Many purists would discount him because it is a title in the Irish peerage which tends to be sniffed at by English aristocracy who are even a bit dubious about the Scottish peerage. Talk about snobs.

The 6th Earl of Stradbroke, Robert Keith Rous was born in 1937 and came to Australia when he was 19. He quickly made a fortune as a property developer and sheep farmer and was a millionaire before he was 30. He lists “making babies” as his hobby in Debrett’s, the bible of the aristocracy and once remarked, “I put seven children on the ground out of my first wife in ten years and my second wife shelled out eight in eleven years.”

Francis Egerton Grosvenor, born in 1934, is the 8th Earl of Wilton. He lives in Melbourne with his wife and is an opera buff.

Down another notch in the nobility stakes is Nicholas Alexander Mowbray St John, the 9th Viscount Bolingbroke, 10th Viscount St John and 13th Baronet of Lydiard Tregoze who lives in Sydney. He was born in 1974,

At the bottom of the nobility list are the Barons. Australian Barons include James William Latham Baillieu, the 3rd Baron Baillieu, Charles Cavendish Chesham, the 7th Baron Chesham, James Lindsay, the 3rd Baron Lindsay of Birker and David Campbell, the 7th Baron Stratheden and Campbell.

My personal favourite for President is the Honourable Michael Baden-Powell, now 75 and living in Melbourne, who could become the 3rd Baron Baden-Powell and Baron of Bentley at any tick of the clock. He is grandson of the 1st Baron who founded the Scouts movement in 1907. I have a yearning to once again, in full voice, to shout “dob dob dob” (Do our best) after my leader, the first President, shouts, “dyb dyb dyb” (Do your best).

I bet you didn’t know that I was Akela’s pet and that I rose to the exalted rank of Senior Sixer circa 1960. She was the very first woman to absolutely dote on me but, of course, not the last.


What do you reckon? Should Australia become a republic?

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Russell Grenning

Russell Grenning is a Brisbane-based former journalist and retired political adviser who began his career with the ABC in 1968 in Brisbane and subsequently worked on the Brisbane afternoon daily, "The Telegraph" and later as a columnist for "The Courier Mail" and "The Australian". He worked for a string of senior Ministers in the Federal, Victorian and Queensland Governments as well as in senior executive public relations positions, including Assistant Federal Director, Public Relations, for Australia Post, Public Relations Manager for the Queensland Department of Main Roads and Principal Adviser, Corporate Relations, for the Queensland Law Society.

  1. Turnbull has not given up his aspiration for Australia to become a Republic, rather I think he is biding his time waiting to win an election in his own right

    16 REPLY
    • He now has to follow what his party wants to keep his job now that he in charge , because he treads on eggs within his own party the slightest slip will bring on a challenge, happens to all of them on both sides when they get the top job …

    • Isy Brennan he has to follow the old conservatives for now but after the next election if he wins it might be a different story. Turnbull is far more popular than Abbott ever was

    • exactly Delmae as it should all Australian’s should be asked to vote on it, and I think Turnbull will lead the charge for that. He was Chair of the Republican Advisory Committee

    • I would be happy with a Republic, but lets focus on other priorities at the moment. I agree Libbi, I think Turnbull will wait and see what happens next year. And, I would hope that when there is a referendum, it will be worded differently than the last one !

    • I know people get upset about this Victoria but in my opinion there is no need, I honestly think this will be on the long term plan, it won’t happen in the immediate future..so nothing to worry about really 🙂

    • At least we can replace a President if he does the wrong thing but we are stuck with the Royal Family no matter what they do Prince Charles and Camilla cost Australia $500k dollars for a few days visit and then they have the hide to want to cut pensions and tell us we are broke

    • The time for for people to start getting excited about this is when they bring it up in Parliament

    • Having the ability to vote in our own head of state sounds good to me. No more having to put up with “the party” chosen one.

    • I will not vote for turnbull ..going by his speech today re Paris ..he is a weak leader. Bring back Abbott.

    • your vote is your choice Linda but I doubt that Abbott is coming back, not in the short term anyway

    • Given the chance there are many Politicians who would LOVE to be President, I hope it doesn’t happen in my life time, we don’t have a single Politician I’d love like to see as PRESIDENT!

    • Leanna StephensonWe also payed Tiger Woods the golfer to come here & he is a very rich man ,it’s not just the Royal family we pay to come out.

    • Now he is PM he will not pursue the republic movement now. He resigned as the Republican Party leader, Fitzsimmons has it now.

  2. Piss off, why try fixing something that ain’t broke. Stop wasting money on “SHIT”. Same people whinge about hospitals, schools, welfare (aged pensions) then you want to waste money on change for the sake of change. “PISS OFF”

  3. Honestly I think there are far rmore important issues that need to be focused on. Until we eradicate the radical element that is intent on destroying the world, it won’t matter what we call ourselves, we will still be a target.

    1 REPLY
  4. In no way do I want Australia to be a republic. Whats wrong with people ?

    9 REPLY
    • Ha William….you don’t think for 1 minute that the Yanks got into the Pacific to save us do you? If the Japanese hadn’t bombed Hawaii they wouldn’t have come near us.

    • There were a lot of different theatres in the War the big thing was we stopped the Japs and thankfully the Japs changed their minds and bomb pearl Harbour.

    • Thank Christ the Japs made that mistake they would have overrun us,does anybody Rmember the fall of Singapore?all our boys ended up as prisoners of war, another POMMIE stuff up
      And let’s not forget Gallipoli a BIGGER Pommie stuff up. Me thinks they have had enough out of
      Australians Blood n All. Bring on the Republic!🍀🍀🍀🍀🍺🍺🍺🍺

    • William H Jacobs we DO run our own country. Refer to the Constitution and Westminster System. The Queen and Monarchy is above politics. She invested powers to the GG so Australia is, in fact, autonomous. The PM and GG run Australia; they only advise the Queen of what’s happening.

    • I suppose the lend lease from the United States was a figment of my imagination. . Don’t let the facts get in the way of your argument. . God Bless the American Republic and one day Our independent Australian Repulic

  5. Being the West Island of NZ. You’ll need our permission first! Ha-ha

    7 REPLY
  6. Wait until the queen passes,nobody wants Charles and camilla .

    5 REPLY
  7. Just another waste of money leave things as they are we need good politicians for a republic not the tripe we have

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