Friday, March 11, 2011

AN AUSTRALIAN REPUBLIC?

Sorry nothing historical here today. Come back tomorrow...

It's not often I get on my soapbox on this blog with the last time being Australia Day but an Australian Republic is another area of my interest. A few weeks ago I began a poll on this blog asking the question “An Australian Republic?” Anybody who regularly reads here knows it’s not a ‘Republican’ blog its a small Canberra 'history' blog. The site gets about a hundred visitors a day. 

The blog is usually the result of an interest in Canberra history that I take the time to share so the blog is neutral in regards to any visitors Republican leaning, one way or the other. Having said that the poll should be more indicative of random opinion than a poll on a Republican or Monarchist themed website.

I will let the poll results speak for themselves...


Lets not beat around the bush, I'm a card carrying supporter of Australia becoming a Republic. Why? A lot of reasons but a few main ones. Firstly I have a problem with the concept of Australia’s Head of State being determined by the hereditary birthright of a foreign monarch. Rule by birthright is to me antiquated, perhaps even offensive no bones about it. (Apparently we are not all created equal.) I firmly believe that any Australian citizen with the peoples support should be able to aspire to the top-job.

Secondly and more importantly I have a problem with Australia's unity under that archaic blood-line system. As far as Australia's unity goes what once worked no longer does.

I hear a lot of comment that Australia is in all effects already operating as a republic so why bother formalising it? Why rock the boat?  We can continue to trundle along with an absent foreign Monarch as our Head of State, with her resident representative the Governor General appointing our governments. It works and always has worked. Currently we have Queen Elizabeth, next in line King Charles to be followed by King William and Queen Catherine and then their first born male offspring. That should cover us for at least the next 80 years. Why change now?

It all boils down to unity. Unity of today's Australian people. I think today the time of Australian people's unity  under the Monarchy has come to an end. For a long time the Crown was an appropriate and unifying symbol for Australia whilst the country was predominantly populated by British descendants with just a touch of expanding European immigration thrown in. This was a time my parents and I knew well, the British Australia of my youth. 

It was a time when a portrait of Queen Elizabeth adorned the walls of every classroom in the country and what a fuss when a Royal visit. A time where at 17 upon joining the Australian Army I swore allegiance to the Queen before entering one of the ‘Royal’ Australian corps. In 1981 at the CHOGM meetings in Melbourne I guarded the cavalcade and saw the Queen pass by. I am reminded of Robert Menzies "I did but see her passing by, and yet I love her till I die" except I did not hold the same sentiment. In the Army as in civilian life unity was somehow derived from the British Crown.

Fast forward 2011…

The Australia of my youth has thankfully ended and I not only accept that but embrace it. Some Australians hold on to that ‘time’ of British Australia to the detriment of Australia today. Australia is no longer simply a British population loyal to their ancestral homeland and Monarch with a few ‘wogs’ thrown in. The Nation is now made up of many races of people from all over the globe. Australia is today a nation of people originating from many places who's diversity needs to be respected as Australians. 

The monarchy has become to the majority of Australians an irrelevancy. It is no longer a unifying institution. If the monarchy was still being effective people today would be embracing their Australian citizenship united under the British Monarch as one people. All loyal Australians under an Australian Queen. Asians, Middle Eastern, Islander, Aboriginal and European origin peoples living as one under the unity of Australia's Monarch. Unfortunately as idyllic as that would be it remains a fairy tale from the vaults of the Australians for Constitutional Monarchy. The crown today is just not relevant to most Australians and to others the Crown is an absolute offence.

Disunity now abounds in Australian society. For example I hear people identifying as, and being referred to as a Muslim, a Croat a Leb or a Turk… It’s that Muslim down the road... never that 'bloke' down the road as if the person of Muslim faith was somehow not Australian. There exists an overwhelming absence of Australian unity. The arrogance displayed by some Australians using the excuse of a British heritage for racism by the uneducated festers like a cancer and eventually erupts in events like the Cronulla riots.

The disunity is further highlighted by the Australian Aboriginal people’s collective historical anguish. They see the Crown in general and Australia Day as the date they were invaded and stripped of their lands and the beginning of the decimation of their people. They see the Crown as an ever present oppressor. It is apparent to me that Aboriginal people today see Australia’s constitutional ties to the Monarchy as a reason for mourning and anger. 

Aboriginal people appear today however to have accepted the official apology from the Australian Government, and the apology was in my opinion really only ever a good first step. In order to finalize the elusive concept of reconciliation they simply seek recognition. Meaningful recognition.  Despite all the multi-millions spent on media campaigns over the years nothing meaningful has ever materialized and reconciliation as far as I can tell has stalled. There is a void. Meaningful and lasting Reconciliation could be as simple as inclusion in a Constitutional preamble acknowledging traditional ownership and returning a sense of sovereignty.

The Monarchy today fails to unite all Australian people. Its bloodline hierarchy is an anachronism and really should be relegated to being just an Australian historical curiosity. Why hold onto our colonial past? We are today an independent multicultural nation. What do we fear by declaring that independence from Britain and all standing as one unified Australian people? Australia’s becoming a republic handled correctly could be an enormous opportunity. I see a Republic with an Australian Head of State as a chance to unify everyone for the common good.

Celebrate our British heritage but also meaningfully acknowledge the hard work of all migrant Australians regardless of origin and their incalculable contribution in building the Nation. Celebrate the Nations multiculturalism by uniting the people under an Australian Head of State. For me a Republic is all about the unity it could provide for all Australians black, white and brindle. Finally cut the umbilical cord to Britain...

These were my ranting opinions and I'm a dreamer if you want the official line go to:

The Australian Republican Movement website

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