I am not an avid reader of obituaries, but this one caught my eye in the paper this morning: Key figure in republic debate: GEORGE GRAHAM WINTERTON Constitutional Expert, 15-12-1946 — 6-11-2008.
And in this obituary, I read the following comment of the late Professor Winterton:
He said afterwards that he would “like to think people would decide this issue on its merits as opposed to emotions and questions of affection for the monarchy. But the reality is (that) the identity of the monarch is a factor … along with any perceived crisis in the monarchy.
“If we had an absolute nincompoop on the throne, people would want change.”
Of course, the one factor most in favour of our current Australian system of Constitutional Monarchy is precisely the fact that if there were “an absolute nincompoop on the throne” it wouldn’t matter one jot. The machinery of government would continue as usual (ie. being run by the absolute nincompoops we have elected and sent to Canberra rather than the absolute nincompoops in Buckingham Palace in London).
Whereas, were we to be a republic, with a popularly elected president, I could just about guarentee you that we would indeed be governed by an head of state who would be, if not an absolute nincompoop, a person who would at least occasionally displays the traits of nincompoopery, and who would have a much greater effect upon our nation than our current in absentia monarch. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at American politics…
Which is just another way of saying “the nincompoop you know is better than the nincompoop you don’t.