Anthony Albanese’s deference to the throne may be the best way to ensure constitutional change

Anthony Albanese’s deference to the throne may be the best way to ensure constitutional change

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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese didn’t get much sleep Thursday night as he waited for news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death.

Shortly after 6am on Friday, when consolidated protocols for the monarch’s death came into effect, Albanese marked the end of the second Elizabethan age with a grim speech to the nation. Deep respect, deep loss and deep sadness was Albanese’s message.

Over the next week, the prime minister instinctively grasped both the historic weight of the moment and Central Australia’s overwhelming and sympathetic mood towards the queen.

So what happened to Albo, the free unit, the leftist warrior who swore after breakfast to fight the conservatives and build socialism?

Albanian, despite his republican inclination, is a self-proclaimed “idiot of parliamentary trials”, one who has a deep and genuine respect for the country’s political institutions and for the office of prime minister.

It also has a finely tuned radar for political strategy.

Related:Peter Dutton lashes out at Republicans seeking “political advantage” from Queen’s death

In the days following the Queen’s death, Albanese transcended politics and the personal, knowing he had the role of prime minister to play at this significant, albeit prescribed, moment in Australian history.

“At a time like this, my job is to represent the nation and represent the opinions we have, to follow the protocols I have made. I think there is really something to be said for following the traditions that exist, “Albanese said Thursday.

“I know I have been asked a few times about the debate on the monarchy and these issues. This is not the time for that. This is the time to pay homage to Queen Elizabeth, to give thanks for her extraordinary service for 70 years: it has been an extraordinary life ”.

Albanian’s praise of Queen Elizabeth II has angered Republicans, worried that the prospect of an Australian head of state – which many have declared impossible while the queen lived – is considered too sensitive to argue now that the queen is dead. .


But he knows that taking advantage of this moment to push the Republican cause would be counterproductive. It would be incredibly unpopular in a country where support for a republic has rarely gone beyond lukewarm and unnecessarily shake the country’s sense of self at a time when it is seeking political and institutional stability.

Despite being pushed on a number of fronts on everything from the $ 5 bill to the appropriateness of a public holiday to celebrate a national day of mourning, Albanese was unwavering, insisting on the protocols that were being followed and everything that was put in place. act was appropriate to commemorate the queen’s death.

One need only look at the artificial indignation fueled by opposition leader Peter Dutton at the prospect of removing the monarch from the $ 5 bill to acknowledge the immaturity of the mainstream debate around a republic in this country, and the dangerous path Albanese faces. him to advance the republican cause.

Albanese also has other motivations.

Presenting himself at this time as a cautious, even conservative leader, the prime minister is able to use the moment to assure voters that, despite being leftist, he can be considered a centrist and that his instincts are in line with those of Central Australia (which decides the elections).

Related: Don’t ask me to give the queen a minute of silence, ask me the truth about British colonialism | Lidia Thorpe

A quick look at his FM radio transcripts this week suggests that his lines were perfect. “Thank you for representing us,” an FM radio host told Albanese this week after furiously agreeing it was “a moment of respect”.

It is also time for Albanese to position the government ahead of the debate on constitutional change, with the prime minister making it clear that his goal is to get an indigenous voice in parliament, in line with his commitment before the elections.

Anthony Albanese places a wreath on a statue of Queen Elizabeth

Anthony Albanese’s deference to the throne in the wake of Queen Elizabeth II’s death could be a shrewd strategic move to achieve future constitutional change. Director of photography: Mick Tsikas / AAP

Hurrying a Republican vote along with the question of constitutional recognition, as some have asked, would be a political nightmare and likely doom both questions to failure. Not accepting the republic’s vote until a second term in a Labor government was also an electoral commitment by Albanese, who emphasized consistency and delivery as key issues of his government.

As it stands, there is a lot of concern among parliamentarians over the prospects for a successful referendum on the voice in parliament, with Albanese this week highlighting the challenge of constitutional reform in a country that has voted against change most of the time.

If the vote on a voice in parliament fails, then there are ramifications for the republican issue, with the appetite for another public referendum shortly thereafter will likely wane.

Albanian may park his ideological beliefs for now, but the man is no idiot and his deference to the throne in the wake of the queen’s death could strategically prove to be the best – and perhaps the only way – to achieve constitutional change along the way. Street .

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