Television Interview – ABC News Breakfast 5 May

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister

MICHAEL ROWLAND, HOST: The King and Queen, along with other senior royals, have taken part in a rehearsal overnight at Westminster Abbey, while thousands of military personnel have practised their parade routes through the streets of London.

EMMA REBELLATO, HOST: The Prime Minister and Governor-General will attend end Saturday’s events along with a number of other prominent Australians. And to tell us more about that and how Australia will be marking the historic occasion, we’re joined by the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, Patrick Gorman. Good morning to you.


ROWLAND: Good morning.

REBELLATO: So, tell us about the role of the Prime Minister, Governor-General and others who will be there.

GORMAN: Well, as happened in 1953, the Prime Minister and the Governor-General are again attending a Coronation. We haven’t seen this for 70 years, but so much of this is steeped in tradition. We will see again the Prime Minister attend with some significant Australians as well as part of the procession, including led by Sam Kerr, which I think is an excellent choice. And then we come back here to Australia, where already I’ve seen here in Melbourne, buildings lit up in purple recognising, that this is a significant occasion for us as a constitutional monarchy. And there’ll be some celebrations at Government House in Canberra where people will be able to join and watch. And I think you can still register on the Governor-General’s website if you’d like to go and watch in Canberra. There’ll be events across the country to mark the occasion.

ROWLAND: Now, there’s a gift as well. From Australia to the King.

GORMAN: There are only about 150 Western Ground Parrots known to exist anywhere on Earth. They’re in the southeast of Western Australia. And so the Prime Minister has announced that there will be a $10,000 gift to the King, to the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot, to help with conservation. People might not know much about King Charles III, but I think people know that he is a very committed conservationist. And so it’s a recognition that we want to honour his interests, but also protect this very important species in the great state of Western Australia.

ROWLAND: You would say that as a West Australian, wouldn’t you?

REBELLATO: So, you mentioned Sam Kerr will be leading the other Australians who will be there. How was Sam Kerr chosen and others who will be there as well?

GORMAN: Well, the Palace asked us to find significant Australians who represent all of us, and so these are difficult decisions, but I think we’ve done well in terms of finding Australians who are, for the most part, already in the United Kingdom. It adds to the ease of the very complex logistics. There’s a lot of people flying into the United Kingdom over the next few days, and I think Sam Kerr was an appropriate choice to sort of represent again, all of us. And I think whether you be a republican like me, a monarchist or indifferent, I think we can all be proud of Australia’s representation at this significant event.

ROWLAND: Deep down, as a republican, honestly, what are you thinking about this ceremony? It has been criticised as ancient. The King gets dabbed on his chest with with ancient ointments and all of that. What do you think about that?

GORMAN: Well, first, I’m a believer in democracy and so I recognise that the Australian people have twice chosen a constitutional monarchy as our system of government. I hope in my lifetime that we might choose something different. Indeed, I hope maybe that is even in the window of my time in the House of Representatives. But you just can’t ignore that this is just a big moment, it’s a big diplomatic moment. There’s a lot of significant foreign leaders who the Prime Minister will meet with. There’s opportunities for Australia to put forward our views about a range of other important issues. And whatever people’s views about the future of the monarchy, I think we also know that King Charles III, as the person who is becoming coronated this Saturday, he knows Australia better than anyone who’s ever come to that job in the past. He’s been here 16 times. He’s caught fish off the coast of Rottnest Island in Western Australia.

ROWLAND: He’s been kissed by women as he’s emerged from the surf, we’ve all seen those photos.

GORMAN: Yes, and some of those who have been lucky enough to get a kiss from the then Prince have been doing media and radio interviews in their hometowns over the last few days. I think there’s a lot of Australians who’ve got connections with the King.

ROWLAND: will you be watching the Coronation on Saturday?

GORMAN: I will be watching the Coronation.

ROWLAND: Will you be swearing allegiance to the King?

GORMAN: So, I’ll be watching the Coronation. Probably going to pop down to Northbridge Piazza down in my electorate to watch; there’s a public watching event. I’ve pledged allegiance to the King and the Queen, for that matter.

ROWLAND: But you will be asked like everybody else watching, by the Archbishop of Canterbury to pledge your allegiance publicly. Will you do that on Saturday night?

GORMAN: As a Member of the House of Representatives it’s an obligation on me to pledge my allegiance to the King. I do that now, here with you.

ROWLAND: But not necessarily on Saturday night?

GORMAN: Look, it’s six o’clock in Western Australia on Saturday night. I’ve got two small children.

ROWLAND: It only takes five seconds to take the pledge, Patrick.

GORMAN: I’ll watch the ceremony. I’ll participate fully in that ceremony as an observer. Depending on when that moment happens, whether I’ve got the kids home from Northbridge or not by that time. But it is a significant occasion and I think people will participate in different ways. Some will just watch the news packages on the ABC. Some will watch the entire ceremony, as I will. Different Australians will participate in different ways. And one of the things I hope is, again, we just take this as an opportunity to remind ourselves of our historical ties, the good and the bad that have come from the experiences of our relationship with the United Kingdom. And I acknowledge that for some First Nations people, this will be a very difficult time. I think we’ll be really open and honest about that, but also to recognise that people can get educated about our Constitution.

ROWLAND: Well, that’s a good point.

REBELLATO: Patrick Gorman, thank you very much for coming in.

GORMAN: Thanks for having me on.

ROWLAND: Thank you.

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