The Australian Republic Movement is doomed to fail as long as its chair is an elitist who loves bashing rugby league.

At the back end of the 20th century the referendum to make Australia a republic failed, in no small part thanks to Malcolm Turnbull spearheading the campaign. Who could have guessed Australians wouldn’t be swayed by a pitch from a multi-millionaire merchant banker? So much for egalitarianism.

Monarchist’s worried that Queen Liz’s imminent death and her replacement with a man who dreamt of being a tampon will see a resurgence in republicanism can rest easy. They have an ace up their sleeve: the current chair of the Australian Republic Movement is none other than Peter FitzSimons.

Alleged journalist Peter FitzSimons has carved out a career by rehashing rugby union anecdotes, retelling tired jokes and – his trademark – shit-canning rugby league. Amongst private school alumni who think a Sao is not so much a biscuit as it is a target in change-room bonding rituals, putting down the traditionally working class game of rugby league is a sport in and of itself.

FitzSimons was at it again this week, when he admitted that rugby union would be less of a snooze-fest if it was more like rugby league (ignoring the fact that most rugby fans don’t care to watch the match, they’re just in the crowd to rub leather-patched elbows with their private school chums).

He assured traditionalists that “every second or third bastard” wouldn’t be covered in tattoos “looking as if they have the imprint of the carpet of the Goulburn RSL on them, from having spent too many drunken nights sleeping upon it” as rugby league had already staked out that territory.

FitzSimons relishes tales about the pissed antics of rugby league stars, unaware that the only reason there aren’t more scandalous news stories about rugby union stars is because by-and-large there are no stars to speak of.

If he loosened his red bandana and let some blood get to his brain, he might realise that his penchant for attacking the most popular sport in Queensland and New South Wales won’t help his campaign for Australians to elect their own head of state. Why would people embrace a cause championed by a bandana-wearing “bastard” who’s raison d’etre is to lampoon a sport many of them hold dear?

It is hard to reconcile FitzSimon’s nationalistic call for an Australian head of state with his incessant mocking of ordinary Australians and their passions. He uses slang-filled prose to give the impressions he’s a regular bloke – whatever that is – but it’s clearly an affectation.

You could start to think that despite his attacks on the monarchy, the Knox Grammar alumnus has no issue with an elite class which is held above the rest of society in both esteem and rights. His only gripe is the our ruling class is overseas and not closer to home.

The republic he dreams of obviously isn’t one where every Australian is equal, where any man or woman is fit to be our the head of state. It is one of the old school tie and secret handshake, the backroom deal and well-paid board position.

Maybe it’s a good thing FitzSimons is chair of the Australian Republic Movement. As long as he’s there, unable to hide his contempt for “common people”, his vision of an Australian republic won’t come to pass.


Image © Mal Vickers, used under this licence.