Sir: As an "old digger" and small "c" conservative who values our enviable tradition of government by constitutional monarchy, I was sorry to see that Mr Malcolm Turnbull, who I believe is the great nephew of my old comrade-in-arms Captain Arthur "Gaga" Turnbull, as he was known to us in the mess, is again peddling the notion of Australia becoming a republic - and this in spite of the "shot in the arm" the recent Diamond Jubilee celebrations gave to the popularity of Her Gracious Majesty the Queen of Australia. I hope and believe that Mr Turnbull is barking up the wrong tree on this one, much as his great-uncle Gaga barked up the wrong tree at Mataranka in 1943 when, young and ardent as he was in those days, he paid court to a strikingly handsome lady officer in the WRAAC who nearly bit his head off when he tried to embrace her in the starlight behind a baobab at the outdoor film night, it transpiring that she was "on the other team", as they say. There was quite a bit of that in the women's ranks I understand, so Gaga shouldn't have been surprised.

Be that as it may, it seems to me from the publicity given to the younger Turnbull's remarks in the "quality media" and on ABV Channel 2 that the "R" word will not go away. And indeed I fear this is all too understandable. It cannot be denied that the "balance of power" in the world has changed since the fall of Singapore and that, what with such things as the "Common Market" we are not as close to the "old country" as once we were. Indeed the finger of destiny seems to suggest that it is to our neighbours on the Asian-Pacific "rim" that we should look for future alliances. Would it not therefore be an appropriate gesture, and one acceptable both to those who prefer our present system and those like Gaga's great-nephew who argue for a constitutional change that would more accurately reflect the realities of our nation's evolving geopolitical situation, if in due course, when Her Majesty finally gains the eternal rest she so richly deserves for the heroic job she has done for us all, we were to transfer our allegiance to a constitutional monarchy in our own region, such as Thailand, or Tonga, which has the advantage of being a fellow member of our happy Commonwealth family. But not, I would counsel, Japan.

Lyle J. Gatling (Brigadier, retd) 
The Old Warhorse Eventide Home
Duntroon, NSW 

12 September 2012

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