Would You Buy A Used Republic From This Man?
Paul Zanetti is a Walkley award winning syndicated cartoonist with over 30 years in the media. He blogs at www.zanettisview.com
HAVE I got a Republic for YOU. Don’t think you need a Republic? Think again! But you’ll have to be quick! I’ll even throw in a set of free steak knives.
That’s the dodgy used car spiel being spruiked this time around to pressure YOU into buying a clapped out ‘Republic’ model.
But you’re quite happy with your old ‘Monarch’ model with the reliable V8 engine.
It’s served you well and you expect it will run reliably for some time yet. You have an emotional bond with the Monarch. It’s been part of the family forever.
Every now and then, though, you’re tempted to get another model, to bump up to that ‘Republic’ the neighbours talk about. But then you ask yourself ‘why?’.
You can’t really think of a good reason. You’re happy with what you’ve got. So you head down to the car yard to see what the big deal is with this ‘Republic’.
That’s where you meet the big, boofy salesman with the wide collared shirt (circa 1978), the chequered jacket (1983) with matching trousers and white shoes (re-soled 6 times since 1988). The red bandana is a unique touch, though.
You walk onto the car lot with a little trepidation when ‘he’ sees you.
Try to not make eye contact. Damn. Too late.
Boofhead bounds over.
”Maaaate! Maaaaate! Cobber! Buddy! Bloke! How’s ya day been, champion?”
“Yeah, um, good thanks!”
“So you’re here to buy a Republic!” Boofhead says with all the surety in the world.
“I’m just looking thanks….” you reply nervously.
“Maaaaate, everyone wants one.” Boofhead insists.
“You’ll be the odd one out! The neighbours will be talking. Better hurry up. This offer won’t last long. Gotta do it now. You’ll regret it if you don’t”
“Why?” you ask.
Boofhead stops to think. He hadn’t thought of that. After a moment he spits put, “Because, well, your old Monarch, it’s outdated!”
“But Republics are old, too,” you explain.
Boofhead looks really baffled now.
“But maaaaaate! Cobber! Bloke!….This is a REPUBLIC! Everyone wants one!”
“Do they?” you ask. “My family really likes our Monarch.”
“Ha! What would they know? Republics are…just better!”, insists Boofhead, getting a little testy.
So you ask, “Why is a Republic better than a Monarch?”
Boofhead looks at you. Stumped.
He goes back to his office to see what google says.
That’s effectively what we’re facing with this whole new republic salesman push. You’re being sold an unknown to replace a known. You’re not being told why you should buy the 'Republic', just that the salesman doesn’t like the 'Monarch'.
He can’t give you any other reason. He just wants you to trust him.
In his open letter to ‘Australia’ on Australia Day, republican salesman Peter ‘Fitzy’ FitzSimons puts his best case forward.
Nowhere in his best case sales spiel does Fitzy tell us why Australia would be better under a republic.
Because he can’t.
Fitzy’s model means we, the people, don’t get to vote for our Head Of State - which is no different to the case we have now.
Fitzy doesn’t want you to know that so he doesn't talk about it. He knows if he does, you'll run back to your 'Monarch'.
A bit like the car out back that the salesman doesn’t want you to see in case you notice it’s not as good as he says it is or no better than what you have.
What Fitzy does do is a salesman’s slick trick. A pea-and-thimble trick.
He diverts your attention away from the very ordinary product he’s trying to sell, with lots of sales hype but no real substance. He takes you for a schmuck.
Here are a few selected hyped sales words and phrases adopted by the salesman Fitzy trying to sell you a Republic:
“….let a thousand flowers bloom…”
“…thrilling and historic…”
“…never before have the stars of the Southern Cross been so aligned as now, pointing to the dawn of the Australian republic…”
“…that alignment has continued at astonishing pace…”
“…euphoric response to the release of that Declaration of Desired Independence…”
“…the number of members…are now pouring in…”
“…let's be fabulous, and let's get on with it…”
“…it is a hell of a start…”
“…We can do this, and we can do it soon!…”
“…there will be a thumping YES, and we are on our way….”
All sales hype. No substance.
Where’s the actual republic model? How will Australian lives be improved? How will Australia be better off?
How will we be affected?
If we aren’t affected then why change?
If we are affected tell us how.
If you can’t tell us how or why then why would we vote for it?
The only apparent motivation for a republic is Fitzy’s dislike for the Royal family.
He says, “Australia really can do better than find our heads of state from one family of unelected English aristocrats, living in a palace in London…”.
The old rubbishing a Ford to try to sell a Holden routine.
Hailing from Irish roots it’s understandable Fitzy might have a personal loathing for the Brits, but someone’s deep dislike of the Royal Family isn’t our problem to fix.
I can’t help imagining Fitzy getting together with fellow Irish chums, Mike Carlton and Paul Keating, toasting with a glass of Guinness,
“Here’s to a republic!”
“We can DO this!”
“Let’s be FABULOUS!”
“….If we keep the republic model quiet we’ll get a THUMPING YES….and we’re on our way…”
That’s just the start of it.
The other slick advertising trick Fitzy has employed to get you to vote ‘Yes’ to a republic is avoiding the issue of the republic…completely.
Instead of being up front, asking you if you think Australia should be a republic, Fitzy wants the government to ask you a motherhood question to which you must answer ‘Yes’.
The question being:
“Do you think Australia should have an Australian as our Head of State?”
How could you say 'No'?
Fitzy even admits, “There will be a thumping YES, and we are on our way.”
Fitzy reckons he’s so smart he’s already got your vote before you vote. Why even bother voting?
See, it’s not about Australia. Not about what’s best for the country. It’s about the Royal family. It’s personal. This is an Irishman sticking it up the British monarchy.
The question should be posed accurately and honestly -
“Do you think Australia should become a republic?”
This should not be about an individual, a person, or the queen or her heirs.
You make up your own mind. Here’s the open sales letter from the republican salesman, Peter ‘Fitzy’ FitzSimons published in Fairfax and News Corp publications.
Australia, I’ve got one question for you...
In my address to the National Press Club in August of last year I stated that, “Never before have the stars of the Southern Cross been so aligned as now, pointing to the dawn of the Australian Republic.”
The fact that Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister shortly afterwards only lined those stars up even better, and that alignment has continued at astonishing pace since.
This Australia Day, we have quadruple the number of members as last year. Donations, which used to sound, for very good reason, like a twenty cent piece landing in an otherwise empty 44 gallon drum, are now pouring in as never before. Business leaders like Alan Joyce, Ken Henry and Tony Shepherd have been as proud to stand with us, as we are to have them by our side, begging only they don’t step on the toes of Julia Gillard, Anna Bligh, Senator Nova Peris-Kneebone and Hugh Jackman.
And then, the true breakthrough: yesterday’s “Declaration of Desired Independence,” as I call it, whereby seven out of eight of the Premiers and Chief Ministers signed up in honour of Australia Day, affirming their desire that we get on with it.
The upshot is that that dawn is now close. We can do this, and we can do it soon! As the Prime Minister — the most passionate republican in the land — surveys the chances of getting up a referendum “with a majority of people in a majority of states,” it is a hell of a start to have all the leaders of those states with him. (Particularly when, the only one who didn’t sign, WA Premier Colin Barnett, is also a strong republican.)
The euphoric response to the release of that Declaration yesterday — expressed on talkback, twitter, emails and on the street — was nothing less than thrilling and historic. It included myriad front pages around the country applauding the move. I am a Fairfax man from the hairs of my chinny-chin-chin to the marrow of my bones, but the positive front page of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, with a headline hailing the “United States of Australia,” and a supportive editorial to boot, was of enormous significance — as is the fact this column is jointly published by Fairfax and News Corp.
All of us are putting our differences behind us, and coming together for the sake of the belief that in the 21st Century, Australia really can do better than find our Heads of State from one family of unelected English aristocrats, living in a palace in London, however much we might admire the head of that family, in Her Majesty. People believe!
One key sticking point is timing, with many maintaining that while we want to be a republic, it is better we wait until the Queen passes away.
I write now, to express my passionate contrary view.
I say we Australians have two ways of doing this.
We can do it while Her Majesty is still young enough to travel to this country, at which point, instead of bowing, curtsying and scraping ... instead of that, as a nation we could rise as one, give her a standing ovation, and say “Thank you, Your Majesty, for the sterling service you have provided our nation.”
She can then hand us the keys, and we affirm that, like the other 33 Commonwealth nations that have become republics on her watch — while still remaining part of the Commonwealth — we can take it from here. We could do that like grown-ups, looking our British equals in the eyes, and affirming that we have grown sufficiently to do this our way.
Or we can do it the sneaky way. We can wait until Her Majesty passes away, at which point we sneak out the back of Westminster Abbey and greet on the stairs the incoming King Charles — who has been waiting 70 years for the role — with the humiliation of our public affirmation before the world that while we were happy with his mother for all that time, we can’t cop him for five minutes.
Is that fair to him? Does that fine man deserve that? I think not.
So let’s be fair, let’s be fabulous, and let’s get on with it. Let a thousand flowers bloom as so many people from across our brown and pleasant land come forward offering their help, and let us set ourselves to get this done by 2020. Join the Australian Republican Movement, tell your friends, write to your parliamentarians, and let’s make this happen!
Let us have this government commit to asking the Australian people a very simple question: “Do you think Australia should have an Australian as our Head of State?” There will be a thumping YES, and we are on our way.
Peter FitzSimons is chair of the Australian Republican Movement.
Since Fitzy wrote that presumptuous, condescending open letter a number of news sites have run polls - including the ABC.
In all polls, the majority of those who voted, when asked the right question, ‘Should Australia Become A Republic? (the question Fitzy avoids), responded ‘No’.
So much for his thumping 'YES'.
Then there’s Malcolm Turnbull, who, according to Fitzy, when he became Prime Minister lined the stars up even better “…and that alignment has continued at astonishing pace since….and the Prime Minister — the most passionate republican in the land — surveys the chances of getting up a referendum “with a majority of people in a majority of states,” it is a hell of a start to have all the leaders of those states with him.”
Fitzy doesn’t seem to have run that by Malcolm Turnbull who has since said now is not the time for a republic. Turnbull has been burned once and has no intention to get burned twice. There is no public mood for a republic.
If Fitzy can’t get Malcolm Turnbull on board - an avowed republican, former chairman of the Australian Republican Movement - he has Buckley’s chance of getting the rest of us on board.
Today other government ministers, some republicans, have agreed with the PM’s assertions that the push for a republic should be put on the back burner.
Greg Hunt, Environment Minister, says issues such as job creation and housing affordability preoccupy the minds of the public.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan says the government needs to focus on things that will tangibly improve the lives of Australians, not becoming a republic.
"It's not really going to make a significant difference to our lives," he told ABC radio.
Steve Ciobo, Gold Coast member and Liberal frontbencher told Sky News, “We're not going to jump every single time someone stands up and goes `quick, we need a republic today',
"It's been a hot summer. I think some people need to have a nice big, cool glass of water."
Nationals leader Warren Truss said he believed Australians would never support making a politician the head of state.
"The great strength of the monarchy is not the power it gives to an individual but the power it denies to others.”
"If you take that reserve power away from the Queen, which she never exercises, you've got to give it to somebody else and that'll be a politician. I don't think the Australian people will ever be comfortable with that."
Personally, I have no problem with becoming a republic.
But not this model, and not by this salesman.
Give me a model I can trust - and someone I can believe to sell it to me. Someone who will tell me the truth.
Until then, I'm okay with my old 'Monarch' model.