Palace Letters: Time for republican lobbyists to face reality

With all the focus republican lobbyists have placed on the Palace letters – a move that has backfired considerably – it’s no doubt they’ll continue to pounce on any royal inconsistency – real or perceived – to advance their cause. In 1953, according to other recently released documents, ‘Queen Elizabeth’ was implicated in bringing about the fall of Iran’s Mohammed Mossadegh and installing the Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi as absolute ruler of Iran. This, of course, is not true. It only appears true if you read historical documents without context. Queen Elizabeth’s supposed involvement emerged because of a message she […]

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Interview with ABC’s Kate O’Toole

With 25 years since Paul Keating’s ‘republic’ speech – the speech ‘that started it all’ – I was interviewed about the Monarchy’s relevance to Australia today. I snuck in a few points on the need to keep the Governor-General above politics, why a President is a de-stabilising idea, Australia’s independence and the significant gains we’ve made as a stable, tolerant and prosperous constitutional monarchy. Image source: The New Daily/AAP

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No Palace manipulation here

To say the British monarchy, and by implication Queen Elizabeth II, is “divisive and dividing our nation” would puzzle a lot of Australians. But the Australian Republican Movement has found a way. Recently featuring in the UK’s Express, the movement noted how the royals had undermined Australian trade negotiations, delegated unfair powers to the Governor-General and now drifts out of touch with “four million voters [who] have come onto the electoral roll” since the 1999 republican defeat. These are all familiar republican arguments. And all buckle under examination. The claim of “sending Prince Andrew out on trade missions to secure […]

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Opportunity knocks, hope answers

Opportunity Knocks: How Hard Work, Community, And Business Can Improve Lives and End Poverty, Tim Scott, Hachette Book Group, pp. 280, $27.57, ISBN: 154605913X It’s common to look at American politics, but politics anywhere, and lament the division and lack of progress. All camps feel like they’re losing ground. Tim Scott – Republican Senator from South Carolina – is the counterweight to this. A descendant of West African slaves, Scott’s memoir takes us through his journey as a lousy academic performer in school – pigeonholed like so many other young black men to either ‘make it’ in entertainment or the […]

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Australian republicans should try to fix the federation first

It was former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating who supposedly said to ‘Never get between a Premier and a bag of cash’. And Australians have learnt to get out of the way. Federalism is, to say the least, messy. Even well before responding to COVID-19, it had become synonymous with overlap, duplication, waste and blame between state and federal governments. Kevin Rudd, to his credit, aimed to improve things through performance measures and a sea of commonwealth-state agreements. And Tony Abbott, commendably, tried to invigorate change through a white and green paper. While both efforts either stalled or fell short […]

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The Queen’s Speech

This week the Queen provided comfort to millions worldwide. Her address, only the fifth of its kind, spoke of gratitude, reflection and unity in our constrained and difficult times. In addition to politicians and medical experts, notes the British writer Douglas Murray, many of us also “wanted to hear from the Queen, who remains the person best placed in our national life — or any nation’s life — to put in context what will hopefully soon recede in the national memory into one of those ugly things that just sometimes happens (italics mine).” Her speech, drawing from her other sparing […]

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Corona crisis cancelled my wedding, but may it never harm our long-term liberty

I was due to be married in Australia on May 9. But, even six weeks away, it is not to be. I understand this consideration is small compared to the looming economic collapse, joblessness and the weight of a global pandemic.  But it is a case study for all of us tethered to, and at the complete mercy, of governments — something that, at least in the West, we’ve worked so hard to avoid. Currently based in New Zealand, we woke to the Australian government travel advice mid-last week to get home “as soon as possible”.  Hopping on flights within […]

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Otago Polytechnic – Talk at Bachelor for Leadership Change Programme

This week I was fortunate to be the guest speaker at Otago Polytechnic’s Bachelor for Leadership Change Programme. We talked about the importance of learning from mistakes, carving out a sphere of influence (controlling what you can), seeing setbacks as growth and a range of other topics at the intersection between leadership and public policy. A great discussion that brought together two keen interests of mine – personal development and public policy.  

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The Commonwealth that brings us together 

Heavyweight boxing is not typically associated with Queen Elizabeth II or even the British monarchy.  But Anthony Joshua’s recent Commonwealth Day speech is a refreshing example of these two unlikely – but actually quite similar – worlds coming together.  Joshua, the current unified heavyweight champion, is Watford-born but of Nigerian descent. “I come from the Yoruba people,” he said in front of the Queen, “who are the largest and some might say the loudest ethnic group in all of Africa. I am proudly Nigerian and I am proudly British.”  His unifying remarks are refreshing at a time of jarring identity […]

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Built to last in the internet age

Peter Kirstein – the man who helped Queen Elizabeth hit ‘send’ on her first email in 1976 – has died. His passing, the result of a brain tumour, symbolises not only a life of great leaps forward but also great change. In 1953, when Elizabeth took the throne at just 25, world figures included Churchill, Stalin and Eisenhower. Now it is Bojo, Putin and Trump. In 1949, just eight nations created the Commonwealth. Today membership comprises 53 states and 2.4 billion people. Summarising these sweeping changes, and how our attitudes have changed, the Archbishop of York John Sentamu neatly observes: […]

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