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By Paul Kelly

Containing wide interviews with a few of Australia's prior and current leaders, this publication examines over a century of the Australian state, its humans, its significant occasions, and its clients for the long run. 5 topics are explored: kids of the Empire; the increase and fall of white Australia; the land of the reasonable cross; the sluggish march to reconciliation; and the farewell to nice and robust pals.

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Britain would now appoint diplomats to represent its own interests. Australia was to be given executive and legislative independence—its link with the Empire would rest upon two pillars, the Crown and free choice. Amery said that Bruce had been on the ‘inside right’ at the Conference. No doubt. In their study, Australian Independence, W J Hudson and M P Sharp conclude that Bruce ‘helped to achieve avoidance of any explicit reference to independence, counselled against any proclamation of independence and supported such references as there were to interdependence’.

That will require a skill for compromise that marked the Federation generation but which the 2001 generation with its selfobsessions does not necessarily possess. It is far easier in modern politics to define positions by negatives than by positives. Australians have no ready answers to the issues involved. Does a republic merely keep the current system and substitute a presidency for the office of Governor-General? A great change with minimal change. Or does a republic mean an improved and transformed political system with a greater participation by the people?

It remains a very significant challenge and one of the things that needs to be done is to dispel some of the myths about policy. For example, there’s a view that governments have thrown money at Aboriginal problems and that some people have filtered off a significant part of that money for their own benefit. Now, maybe some things have not been adequately audited. If they haven’t been adequately audited that’s the parliament’s fault. It is the fault of successive governments and that can easily be corrected.

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