It’s no wonder I need to wear glasses.
At first, I thought it was just part of the aging process. Now I realise its because I spend too much time in front a screen. And today I watched a LOT of television.
It all started off with the Sun-Todays early in the morning, then a bit of “Meet The Press” or was it Laurie’s Interview? Insiders were okay today. I always like it when they have Fran on. A few hours of The Simpsons followed.
And then this afternoon I got caught up watching A-Pac, the new channel which has been set up for “public debate” or something like that.
With an interest in this kind of thing, I’ve found myself watching it a fair bit. They have lots of Senate Estimates stuff, lots of hours of Question Time, and such. The most amusing thing I’ve seen so far is New Zealand Parliament Question Time which, oddly enough, is quite interesting amusing for its honesty, unlike the very “staged” Question Time we have.
Today they had hours and hours of people giving submissions on Bob Brown’s bill about whether or not we should have a plebiscite for a republic. Bob was there, as was Cory Bernardi, the South Australian Liberal who got into trouble for something a while back, a Liberal bloke from Victoria fresh out of student politics (though quite smart and incisive in his line of questioning) and Doug Cameron.
Appearing before them were the likes of Major General Michael Keating on behalf of the Australian Republican Movement and David Flint on behalf of Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy. There were a bunch of other players with interesting things to say, though none of their names springs to mind, unfortunately.
It was interesting to watch how the politicians interacted with the people giving evidence. For example, one bloke made a comment about a suggested plebiscite question and you could see Bob Brown’s eyes light up. He kept coming back to that question throughout the rest of the proceedings, so it obviously had some effect.
There was also a lovely exchange between David Flint and Bob Brown when they compared notes about the friendship circles in which they travelled. “We obviously travel in quite different circles”, Flint commented when Brown observed that almost everyone he meets thinks Australia should become a republic soonish.
Overwhelmingly they thought it was wrong – in fact one said, “a bit sick” – to wait for the Queen to die before re-considering this question, as it’s about our destiny, not our relationship with a particular person.
Overwhelmingly I got the impression, if there’s to be a plebiscite or whatever at the next election, it will probably be something a little more than “do you think we should be a republic”. Quite a few people kept coming back to the 1977 national anthem/song competition which gave people a non-binding choice. Then, a few years later legislation made it all happen.
So, my guess is they’ll ask us something along the lines of “do you want a republic?” (yes/no), followed by “if so, do you want a) direct elect pres b) parliament elect etc”, and then there’ll be some sort of question or statement about how nothing is binding until there’s a further referendum where you’ll get to vote again.
That’s my reading of the evidence, and the response is given, anyhoo.
Of all those on the panel, only one, Cory Bernardi was happy with the current arrangements, being of the “if it ain’t broke” school of thought.
So that’s my Sunday… watching TV… getting four eyes.