Bring on Wills as G-G
Phil Haberland, writing in The Sunday Times, July 13, 2007 10:00pm

AT least four months out from the federal election, it's become one big yawn. The fear factor ain't working.

We're relaxed and comfortable about unions, sympathetic but stumped about the plight of Aboriginal children, and no matter how politicians try to scare us, we all know the bombs are going off on the other side of the world, not here. So, it's business as usual and back to Ben Cousins. How's that "hammy" healing?

Elections, like footy, are a great spectator sport. Now and then we like a bit of biff. A good shove in the back.

So, as an enrolled voter I feel ripped off that John Howard and Kevin Rudd recently avoided a stoush that could have electrified the election.

I speak of Australia becoming a republic and the flying of a new national flag.

The catalyst for this political donnybrook was the announcement that Prince William wanted to be our next governor-general. The issue was a sitter for the blood-letting to begin. It would have energised the populace.

The debate would have shown us whether Kevin Rudd was prepared to loosen that impeccable tie and get down and get dirty with a topic.

Instead, these two wimps that would be leaders sat like scared rabbits in a spotlight.

Howard remarked that the governor-general should be "an Australian in every way", while Kevin (Where's My Backbone?) Rudd dismissed William's aspirations, with the vacuous comment "It would be party, party, party out at Yarralumla, wouldn't it?"

In the tradition of Robert "I Did But See Her Passing By" Menzies, Mr Howard is a staunch supporter of the British monarchy. His failure to back William's G-G attempt must be viewed as an act of cowardice and betrayal.

As written in the Constitution, the Governor-General appointed by the Queen is "Her Majesty's representative in the commonwealth". So why shouldn't he be a Pom? Even better, the Queen's grandson, second in line to the throne, the future King of Australia! You can't be a little bit pregnant.

In the 1999 referendum, the Australian people made it clear we did not want to become a republic. So let's not get all coy about the fact that our head of state lives not at Kirribilli House, but rather Windsor Castle. And let's not get all sheepish and self-conscious because the Union Jack still flutters in the corner of our national flag. Yes, it has lovely historical antecedents and our men went off to war with it, but there are many on this island who feel the flag and the position of governor-general have had their day.

In these uncertain times of national identity, our so-called leaders should have tackled the underlying issues that Prince William's aspirations triggered.

In 1999, the republic idea was turfed out, not necessarily because we remain British to the boot straps, but rather because a dodgy model was offered. That, and the "Preamble" poem, ensured it would be defeated. There is still time for republican Rudd to put the issues of a new flag to go with a new political model and constitution on the election table.

But if we're still not big enough or confident enough to break with Mother England, I'm more than happy to see William at Yarralumla. We could borrow a few federal police and dress them up as Beefeaters. John and Janette Howard would be regulars at the Canberra garden parties. Liberal and National Party toadies would abound. We'd have Trooping the Colour with kangaroos.

And if we're lucky, William might give Kate Middleton the flick for a good solid Aussie sheila and our love affair with all things royal could continue unabated.