Williams' Word | Take care on the road to republic


There will be lots of talk in the coming year about Australia becoming a republic and it does seem strange that in an age of space exploration, smart phones and solar panels that our modern parliament still has technical connections to kings and queens – but we must be very careful before we make changes. We have to accept that the present system is working well and ensure that any change won’t create unexpected problems.

Simply accepting that it is time Australia became a republic is not the answer. For example, what should the token head of our parliamentary system be called? A president? But most countries are led by a president who is also a politician. We are far better off with a titular head who is politically impartial. It might be better to retain the title of ‘governor general’?

And most people would like to have a vote in deciding who would take that role – but that could create big problems. An elected person, as different from one appointed, might claim a different sort of power. He/she could contest the powers now held by the elected Prime Minister because he/she could claim that more people voted for him/her than voted for the PM. An election for our head of state could be quite dangerous.

For example, who is to ensure that the people nominated to be elected as Governor General are the right sort of person for the task, someone able to mix with foreign leaders, who understands the roles of government and who does not, say, have some nasty habits? How do we know that pop singer or top sportsman is not a wife beater or involved in illicit drugs?

Far better to have a team of elected parliamentarians invite nominations, then investigate those nominated as to their suitability and make the decision.

Another problem with an election is who would finance and back the various campaigns? What is to stop the local billionaire deciding he would like his son to be the top man? Or a group with political affiliations nominating someone they believe would support their policies, rather than act as an impartial head of state?

Far better for the pollies to make the decision.


It is sad to see the much respected ABC devote so much of its air time to crucifying men who surely behaved very badly but were far from the most dangerous humans around us. In the past few weeks the ABC has devoted whole half hour programs about prominent men who have been accused of mistreating women. Not physically injuring them, just acting like buffoons.

Sure, include a news item or two on the subject but these programs spent the whole half hour on denigrating men who surely behaved badly but were their actions worse than, say, the big drug dealers who can destroy so many lives or the drunk drivers who can kill people? These television programs were repetitious complaints about well-known men who, apparently, acted inappropriately.

There is no place for these rich and powerful men who abuse their power and wealth for personal gratification, but what about the impact this might have on ordinary future male/female relationships. Maybe someone should define just what is and what is not acceptable these days. At the moment it is a minefield for ordinary young men who would hope to act decently – but are bewildered because there are no rules – and if there are any rules they must vary dramatically because it seems that what is quite acceptable to some groups might be seen as very inappropriate to others.

If it has it been decided that mankind is no longer part of the animal kingdom in which the male has a role for the continuation of the species (not unlike the needs of thirst and hunger), is it asking too much for someone to make it clear just what those new standards are?

And this will affect many of the girls as well if the young males are scared of making any sort of contact because they don’t want to do the wrong thing. Women as well as men could miss out on long term relationships because good kids don’t understand these new rules.

Sure, name and shame those people who fail to act decently but let’s not make a melodrama over every incident.

We don’t do that with drug dealers whose greed can destroy lives, do we?  


According to our prime minister, the federal government will consider compensation for the victims of child abuse. What has money to do with child abuse? A monetary handout seems out of place and seems so materialistic. And surely he is not expecting the government, in other words, the people of Australia, to pay for the actions of the offenders.

Already the taxpayers have paid a huge price for the Royal Commission itself. They should not be held responsible for any compensation payments. Surely the offenders and their employers must take the financial as well as the legal responsibility for their actions? The major churches are wealthy organisations. (The Salvation Army is a notable exception).

This financial question intrigued you ancient scribe back in the 1960s when Our Lady of Mercy College in Goulburn was informed by council that a toilet block was not up to health standards and must be rebuilt. The school announced it could not afford to rebuild it – and that led to the famous “Schools’ closure” which led to the national campaign for government funding for church schools.

It seemed strange, that claim, because your ancient scribe had been travelling and part of those travels included a visit to the Vatican where we saw some of the vast treasures stored there.

  • Ray Williams has been a Post columnist since retiring from the newsroom in 1993.


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