Too early to dismiss our UK links


As a sympathetic son of Wales, I cannot see that Australia has yet accumulated enough real substance to reject English heritage.

Brian Jenkins, Safety Bay, WA

An alternative to the presidential model

Not surprisingly, the conclusion of Andrew Clark’s informative article, “Republic push attends its time” (September 17-18) is “now is not the time” to sue a republic. The Roy Morgan poll suggesting that “60% of respondents want Australia to remain a monarchy” reinforces this point.

Clark’s article focuses on an elected head of state model. Given the perceived failures of this type of model, it is perhaps this presidential model, and not the concept of an Australian republic, that Australians are concerned about.

An alternative might prove more acceptable. Imagine, for example, an elected popular council consisting of, say, five members, three of whom would be changed every five years. Candidates could not be affiliated with a political party and would be nominated by state and federal legislatures.

The parliaments would then choose a head of state from among themselves, with the appropriate constitutional changes for consultation and advice.

A popular council model can allay fears about an elected presidential-style leader.

Andrew Russell, Carrickalinga, South Africa

Why not an indigenous head of state?

The sticking point in the Australian Republican debate is the question of the president. Australia is a culture over 60,000 years old, and in recognition of this, the role of President should be reserved for a First Nations person. As a ceremonial position that would go well with recognition of the continuation of the country’s culture.

Jon Jovanovic, Lenah Valley, Tas

Let our constitutional evolution take its time

Greg Barns believes that for a Republican referendum to succeed, it cannot be seen as a Labor Party initiative alone (“Republican Movement Needs Conservative Votes to Succeed,” September 17-18).

For Australians to leave their constitutional safe harbor, they will not be influenced by people who identify as conservative, progressive, black or white. They will only set sail if they think it is a good idea.

Your editorial (“A world queen, but our future is still a republic”, September 17-18) concludes with the words “constitutional evolution”.

This is the key; this nation will evolve into a new constitutional status in its time.

Kim Keogh, East Fremantle, WA

Holidays not among the reasons for a republic

John Kehoe has become overworked (“Shutting down Australia over Queen’s death is nonsense”, September 15) and may need a break. Australia should be a republic for many reasons. The celebration acknowledging the death of Queen Elizabeth is not one of them.

David Epstein, Gisborne, Vic

Imagine if the holidays had been a liberal idea

I completely agree with John Kehoe that the proposed holiday to mourn the passing of the Queen is absurd. However, I just wonder what venom and grudge would have been directed by the usual suspects against a Prime Minister like Scott Morrison or, God forbid, Tony Abbott for offering the same leniency.

Peter Maddern, Unley, SA

Jim Bain and the Australian Institute

Too bad Andrew Clark didn’t contact me before submitting his obituary of Jim Bain (“Jim Bain, ASX Revolutionary,” September 19). It contained some false imputations and some errors.

I have never “maintained a wall of secrecy” about Jim Bain’s support of the Sydney Institute. Indeed, at the institute’s 30th anniversary dinner in March 2019, I said: “In late 1986, I received a call from Sydney businessman Jim Bain, who asked to take over an old organization in Sydney with a view to reviving it. Jim and Janette Bain have made a very generous personal financial contribution for over three years, and without Jim’s role, we would not be here tonight.

I launched Jim’s first book, A financial story of two citiesin 2007, and he spoke to the institute about his second book.

In addition, the institute sponsors the occasional Jim and Janette Bain Lecture Series – finances and pandemics permitting. Past speakers are Katharine Birbalsingh and William Shawcross.

On another topic, contrary to Clark’s assertion, I was not “a former senior official of Bartholomew Santamaria’s National Civic Council”. I worked part-time for Bob Santamaria in 1970-71.

When Jim Bain offered me a job at the end of 1986, I was chief of staff to John Howard, then Leader of the Opposition.

Gerard Henderson, Sydney, New South Wales

Andrew Clark responds: I did not write that Gerard Henderson maintained a “wall of secrecy” regarding Jim Bain’s support of the Sydney Institute. What I said was that he had maintained a wall of secrecy over the funding of the Sydney Institute. The institute’s former president, Meredith Hellicar, said the donors remained anonymous except for “those who were happy to come forward”.

Regarding Henderson’s employment with BA Santamaria’s National Civic Council, he confirmed the connection but, more than 50 years later, downgraded its importance.

Wrong way to see stage three cuts

Senator Andrew Bragg’s case for keeping Stage Three tax cuts is based on his false premise that Australia has “some of the highest taxes in the developed world” (“The repeal of Stage Three Would Destroy Labor Skills Programme”, September 19).

OECD data shows that tax revenue is a smaller proportion of GDP in Australia than in Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the UK and most EU countries.

The “best and brightest” internationally movers are attracted to countries with good services such as transport, hospitals and schools. These are paid for by taxes.

As the Reserve Bank Governor noted, we are the closest to full employment in 50 years with the highest terms of trade on record, but the budget is expected to remain in deficit for years.

With a structural deficit, fiscal plans drawn up years before COVID-19 need to be revised. To suggest that this poses a “sovereign risk” is absurd.

Analysis by the Parliamentary Budget Office found that three-quarters of tax cuts benefited the top income quintile. About half the benefit goes to those earning over $180,000, not carpenters and midwives.

John Hawkins, University of Canberra

Satirical antidote to all blows of sass

I want to commend Rowan Dean for his brilliant satirical article (“Vacuous, made-up nonsense in royal TV coverage? One shudders”, September 17-18) and his take on Cockney’s English accent.

It was one of the best pieces of satire I’ve read, as it brought out the empty cheeky tug with a very funny storyline.

Kim Gates, Bayonet Head, WA


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