MaxBarry.com
nice idea, shame about the execution

Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Thu 12
May
2016

The Glorious Republic That Almost Was

What Max Reckons

Max, I hear you’re Australian. Do you support Australia becoming a republic?

Yes, I do! Australia almost became a republic in 1999 but the referendum was defeated 45% to 55%. It was interesting because according to the polls, most people were in favor of the general idea, but against any specific implementation. So we wanted to be a republic right up until someone said, “Would we have a Prime Minister or a President, then?” at which point it dissolved into bitter infighting.

This seems to be the general case. For example, a couple of months ago New Zealand tried to change its flag, since, like Australia’s, it has a certain Beneath-The-Iron-Heel-Of-The-Colonial-Empire vibe to it, and that idea had a lot of support in principle, which collapsed when faced with a particular alternative design. That was when the “Classy Silver Fern” people realized they didn’t have as much in common with the “Kiwi Shooting Laser Beams Out of its Eyes” people as they thought.

I think the lesson is that you should make people to agree to do something before you tell them exactly what.

Comments

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towr (#1914)

Location: Netherlands
Posted: 944 days ago

As someone from another country with a monarchy, I have to wonder though, do you support becoming a republic because the concept of hereditary "rule" is ridiculous, or because you think the alternative is actually better?

Because on the one hand, I'd definitely agree it doesn't make much sense to decide the head of state based on what family they happen to be born into.
But on the other hand it does seems to have some practical advantages. e.g. Royalty innately garners a certain respect/prestige abroad, which seems to pay off in things like diplomacy and trade missions.
And, looking at the US, I can't help but think it's a lot cheaper than their four year, multi-billion dollar election cycle. (Which is, perhaps, not really comparable, with the US being so much bigger and their president holding actual political power.) Even aside from the cost, I must say I'm very glad we don't have that circus here. And it's not like that popularity contest tends to result in a meritocracy either; or happy voters for that matter. I don't quite remember who said so, but there's something to the adage that anyone who seeks to run for office should automatically be disqualified.
Also, I dare say that someone who's been raised his/her whole life to fill a certain role may have a better chance to be prepared for it.

Really, the only complaint I can level against our king is that it makes no ideological sense. But he does the job well enough.

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 943 days ago

It's purely a symbolic thing. Australia could become a republic with no significant change in how the government actually works, since we don't even have our own monarchy to evict.

I don't think anyone here actually wants a republic on practical grounds. It's just about national identity.

Eluvatar (#2716)

Location: Boston
Quote: "Man i waithtir nin tiruva?"
Posted: 820 days ago

The kicker of this post seems to have new relevance in the post-Brexit age.

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