During the last fortnight, we have seen Mr. Paul Keating muscle his way once more onto the national stage, courtesy of the fawning national media, forever anxious to give him a few free kicks. The re-emergence of the odious Keating to defend the predatory policies of Indonesia and the genocide that has taken place in East Timor, brings to mind the policy he fashioned and for which he will be remembered – “engagement with Asia”. We had to embrace “Asian Values”, he said, and become part of Asia. His views were given the status of holy writ by the vast gaggle of journalists, academics and other self anointed elites, who slavishly parroted the Keating line of appeasement of Indonesia and who were most eloquent in their acclamation of the virtue of “Asian Values”. If we don’t embrace “Asian Values” as a matter of priority, we were warned, we would be left behind and become the poor white trash of the region.
Of course, what the term “Asian Values” actually meant was never really made clear, but we were led to understand that we had to have “Asian Values” if we wanted to survive. According to the master snake-oil salesman who sold it to us, it was a cure for everything that ailed us, there was nothing that it couldn’t cure. Now, of course, the same “experts” who pushed Keating’s line at us are struggling to explain why our “friends” the Indonesians, who have been touted as the purest examples of “Asian values,” have been carrying out a policy of genocide in East Timor.
Similarly, the Asian economic crisis of 1997 gave us another view of “Asian Values”, showing how corrupt were the governments, banking systems and business practices of East Asia and how few of these nations enjoyed the rule of law, or recognised basic human rights. It is those same “Asian values” that we see displayed today, as the member states of ASEAN look the other way and pretend that nothing unusual is happening in East Timor. And perhaps, they are right, in terms of the “Asian values” that Mr. Keating and his fellow travellers want us to adopt. Perhaps it is not all that unusual to them, but God forbid that it should ever become acceptable to us. Of course, on the other hand, the response of ASEAN states to events in East Timor could reflect their own vulnerability in the area of human rights and democratic freedoms. And yet the chattering classes say that these are the nations we should appease; that we should adopt their standards and embrace their values.
The advocates of this line are those who, fundamentally, hate Australia and what it stands for. They hate the British traditions that form part of our system of constitutional government, they hate the Christian values that have been inherent in our laws and social institutions since Federation. Having virtually legislated God out of existence, they have now set their sights on the Queen. They do not care what this means for our uniquely Australian democracy. They want to sever ties with our British traditions as well as our Christian heritage, at any cost and, if they are successful, we will be well on the way to seeing Mr. Keating’s dream of an Asian Australia with “Asian values” become reality.
Let us say at the outset that we hold no brief for the English royal family. They mean very little to most Australians and the feelings of fealty and loyalty that once characterised our relationship to the person wearing the crown have diminished over the years. But to remove the Crown from Australia’s system of constitutional government is dangerous in the extreme. Australia’s Westminster system of Government will only work if the Crown is part of it. To remove it is to make our system of government unworkable, in the sense of preserving the liberty of citizens and the democratic character of our constitutional system. Without the Crown, or without more comprehensive changes to our Constitution, including the consideration of republican models that have been proven to work elsewhere, such as in the United States or Switzerland, our democracy is at risk.
That these changes upon which we are to vote on November 6th, are urged upon us by those who advocate Australia’s adoption of “Asian Values”, should be enough to encourage any right thinking person to give the good old Aussie two-fingered salute on referendum day and say “No” to the politicians republic and “No” to the politicians preamble.