Address to the Victorian Parliament
Statement On The Coronation Of King Charles III
Beverley McArthur MP
The opportunity to speak in the Victorian Parliament about the Coronation of King Charles III was important.
The coronation assembled a diversity of people and places from across the globe. Leaders and volunteers were equals in the observance of a service of solemnity and celebration.
The coronation marks the crowning of our Head of State. Our parliament has affirmed its support of the King and in so doing, the success of our existing constitutional arrangements.
Constitutional monarchy works. It survives and thrives not just here but across the world – and not just in times of peace and plenty but under stresses of economic crises, war and emergencies which cause many other forms of constitution to collapse or to morph into totalitarian rule, despotism and dictatorship.
Of course, it would never happen here, especially in Victoria.
New Zealand, Canada, the UK, Belgium, Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and others support a constitutional monarchy. They work very well.
It works not just because the monarch sits above democracy, or overrides it, but because an external figurehead provides a safeguard and a defensive mechanism which tempers the excesses of ego and demands for short-term expediency which electoral politics create. It represents stability and guards against the excesses of individual power which have led to the downfall of so many previously legitimate governments.
It is almost a paradox.
It is in the lack of direct executive power that our ceremonial head of state strengthens our constitution. Parliament retains and remains the ultimate power with our faith placed in the collective wisdom of elected MPs. Our system does not invest itself in the individual ego of an elected head of state.
Naturally, the most likely types wanting that power, the recognition, are politicians. Can you imagine President Rudd, or President Turnbull?
Our current appointed Governors and Governors-General understand their roles of service. They are from diverse backgrounds, far more so than Prime Ministers and elected Presidents. In Victoria, for example, the last three holders of the office have been immigrants and children of immigrants.
In our Constitutional Monarchy, no individual is granted a position which undermines the legitimacy of Parliament and those directly elected by the people.
We should be proud of King Charles and our constitutional monarchy because it works. We are an independent, sovereign, successful nation and we owe the bulk of that to constitutional monarchy.
We have more to do as a nation, and no system is perfect. But we would be wrong to say our success isn’t extraordinary.
Half of our current population was born overseas or has an overseas-born parent. We are defined not by race, religion or culture but by shared values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and equality of opportunity – a fair go. Some days we are better at it than others.
Our constitutional monarchy works in an Australian way, born overseas but forged locally to fit like a national glove. This successful, stable nation has not evolved by chance or mistake; it has evolved precisely because of our existing system. It is not perfect – but it is frankly speaking – pretty bloody good.
King Charles will be a great King. He has learned from perhaps the greatest Queen. Her dedication was superlative.
This is a King who loves Australia – was schooled here, has been her 16 times and even wanted to buy land here – a decision rejected in case it caused envy in other Commonwealth countries.
King Charles will be a great representative of a great system.
Long live the King.
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