Thursday, September 07, 2017

An heir, spare, and one for the country

With the official announcement of the pregnancy of the Duchess of Cambridge, it seems William and Kate will have an heir, a spare, and one for the country.

Congratulations to the British royal pair. The growing British royal family seems to be taking a page out of the Princess Mary book and her Danish royal brood of four.

No doubt the relentless celebrity that will surround the unborn prince or princess will continue to add to the British royal stamp of approval. Nevertheless this royal celebrity is an image dominated by an obsessive media and popular cultural landscape, which treat royalty as entertainment rather than as a political institution.

I hope one day soon that any Australian child will have the opportunity and honour to become an Australian Head of State, and not because he or she has had the privilege to have been born into Britain’s royal family.

I look forward to the day when Australia’s Head of State is determined by merit, not birthright, and affirms Australia’s values as a free, fair, democratic, multicultural nation.


Friday, September 01, 2017

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Hitting the Streets for the Australian Republic


We're hitting the streets to spread the message that Australia should have an Australian as head of state - and we need your help.

The plan is simple: we are holding street stalls across the country where we'll ask people to sign up as supporters. The more people we reach, the more interest we build for the republic. The campaign is growing but the momentum depends on supporters like you. That's why we'd like you to come along and give us a hand:
 


 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Pathway to an Australian Republic: Turnbull and Shorten must unite

It's time for Turnbull and Shorten to unite on Australia becoming a republic.

The political landscape in Australia is definitely changing. The push for a republic has gone from strength to strength in recent years with support from a resurgent membership, the majority of federal parliamentarians, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten brought the campaign for an Australian republic to a new peak at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne last night, 29 July 2017, as the Australian Republic Movement’s guest of honour and keynote speaker at its Gala Dinner.

National chair of the ARM Peter FitzSimons said the event demonstrated the broad bipartisan support within the community:
I daresay The Royal Exhibition Building won't have seen such an inspiring display of Australian nationhood in its arches since it hosted the first meeting of the Australian Parliament.”
Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten said, when speaking of his long-term support for an Australian republic, that he appreciated the historic opportunity to address the Movement and its supporters:
"I’ve always been a passionate republican and I’m looking forward to continuing to press the case for an Australian republic. We can get this done."

The Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne, the location of the first gathering of the Federal Parliament in 1901, will now become known for another pivotal moment in Australia’s history — the biggest gathering of Australian republicans from across the country.

Earlier that day, Bill Shorten had announced at the Queensland ALP State Conference in Townsville that Australians would vote in a plebiscite on becoming a republic within the first term of a future Labor government. He stated that, if Labor wins the next election, a Shorten government would appoint a minister with direct responsibility for advancing the republic debate.

The Royal Exhibition Building was erected for the Melbourne International Exhibition, 1880-1881. As a "Palace of Industry", it displayed the technologies and achievements of the mechanised age. Huge temporary halls housed exhibits of the latest products from more than 30 nations. Pianos, typewriters, lawnmowers, electric lights, carriages and decorative homewares were all on display. Public taste in Melbourne was changed forever.

The 1880 International Exhibition was the greatest show the city had ever seen and attracted over 1 million visitors. A second, even larger world fair, the centennial International Exhibition, was staged there in 1888. The Royal Exhibition Building is the only surviving "Palace of Industry" from a 19th Century world fair on its original site. It is still in use as an exhibition venue.

The Great Hall has been the scene of many events, but it was probably most crowded and most popular during the two international exhibitions, 1880-81 and 1888-1889. The Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880-81 attracted more than 1.3 million people over eight months. The Carlton Gardens were the scene of trysts and assignations, gossip and introductions, as friends, families and lovers met to buy their tickets and stroll through the vast halls.

On 9 May 1901, the Melbourne Exhibition Building hosted the opening of the first Federal Parliament of Australia, following the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January. After the official opening, the Federal Parliament moved to the Victorian State Parliament House, while the Victorian Parliament moved to the Exhibition Building for the next 26 years.

The campaign for an Australian republic is uniting Australians from across the political divide. The address by Bill Shorten at the 2017 Pathway to a Republic Gala Dinner follows on from a passionate keynote speech in support of a republic by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the ARM Gala Dinner in December 2016.

There Prime Minister Turnbull proudly declared,
I am an Australian and proud to say so. Our head of state should be someone who can say the same.”
On Saturday, 17 December 2016, in the Great Hall at the University of Sydney, Prime Minister Turnbull helped the Australian Republican Movement celebrate its 25th anniversary.

Australian Republican Movement national chair Peter FitzSimons said the dinner would “... honour those who’ve got us to this point” and Mr Turnbull was “at the forefront of our founding fathers and mothers”.

He continued:
The dinner is also a moment for the ARM to outline its vision for the future. A vision in which Australia takes the lead and completes the journey to full and final independence.”
Turnbull, who co-founded the Australian Republican Movement 25 years before, had previously said he did not believe Australians would support a republic during Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. It was here that he outlined a road map toward an Australian head of state. If you haven't seen it, you can read the speech here.

However, PM Turnbull also made it clear in his speech that he considered himself an Elizabethan and believed that this journey should not begin until the end of the Queen's reign. With respect to Prime Minister Turnbull, as a long-term avowed republican, his use of the term "Elizabethan" is incongruous.

Professor John Warhurst has reflected that Turnbull will now be lampooned for his use of this phrase:
“... just as the monarchist Sir Robert Menzies is often held up to ridicule for his gushing address to the Queen during her 1963 royal tour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Canberra. To express his admiration for the Queen, Menzies famously quoted the lines from Thomas Ford's poem "There is a Lady Sweet and Kind" which read "I did but see her passing by and yet I love her till I die."
Bill Shorten’s 29 July 2017 republican statements are in line with the timelines proposed by the Australian Republican Movement. This includes a plebiscite in 2020 that asks the people of Australia a very simple question:
Should Australia have an Australian head of state?
With 2020 marking 250 years since Captain James Cook landed surely it must be time for us to stand on our own two feet.

Perhaps, in the words of Paul Kelly, not “before too long”.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Queenslander's silent on no Queen's Birthday holiday

This is the second year Queensland no longer has a Queen’s Birthday public holiday in June — and no one seems to notice it’s gone.

AROUND AUSTRALIA, it is the Queens’s Birthday weekend — except in Western Australia and Queensland. The Queen’s Birthday public holiday is held in most Australian states and territories on the second Monday in June.

As I wrote last year, Queensland became a little less "Queenie" with the move by the State Government of the Queen’s Birthday holiday from the second Monday in June to the first Monday in October in 2016. This year, Queensland will hold the holiday on 2 October. In WA, it will be 25 September.

After the election of the LNP Newman Government in 2012, until its shock electoral loss in January 2015, there was a steady output of ideological revisionism aimed at bolstering the concept of monarchy in Queensland.

During 2011, there had been widespread consultation by the Bligh Labor Government on changing the public holiday system in Queensland. It was agreed, in 2012, that Labour Day would remain in May and the Queen’s Birthday public holiday would move from June to the first weekend in October, while retaining a one-off Queen’s Diamond Jubilee public holiday in June 2012.

All this was thrown out the window later in 2012 when legislation was passed through the Queensland Parliament by the newly elected LNP Newman Government to move the 2013 Labour Day public holiday from the historically traditional 1 May to the first Monday in October and the Queen’s Birthday public holiday back to its previous June timing. The change in attitude towards the public holiday timetabling suggested the Newman Government was determined to take a conservative monarchical stand.

Labour Day has special significance for Queensland because of its links to events in the labour movement of the late 19th Century. The first weekend in May has been of major cultural and historical significance for the union movement in Queensland ever since the state’s first Labour Day procession – and one of the first in the world – took place in Barcaldine on 1 May 1891. The Labour Day public holiday has been celebrated by workers in Queensland on the first Monday in May since 1901 and is deeply ingrained in Queensland’s history as a day to recognise workers’ rights.

With the election of the Palaszczuk Labor Government in Queensland in 2015, one of the first actions was changing the Queen’s Birthday public holiday for 2016 to the first Monday in October and restoring the Labour Day public holiday to the first Monday in May.


The push for a republic has gone from strength to strength in recent years with support from a resurgent membership, the majority of federal parliamentarians, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. On Australia Day 2016, Australia's premiers and chief ministers made public declarations supporting an Australian head of state. The Australian Republic Movement has now confirmed most Federal MPs and senators want to ditch the monarchy. Sydney’s North Shore has a reputation for being home to staunch monarchists, but a few days ago every elected politician in that area from State and Federal politics was asked where they stood on the question of Australia becoming a republic. In short, if it was up to this patch of Australia, we’d be saying hello to an Aussie head of state any day now.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will bring the campaign for an Australian republic to a new peak, as the Australian Republic Movement’s guest of honour and keynote speaker at its Gala Dinner on 29 July 2017. The Pathway to a Republic dinner in 2017 will bring together supporters of a republic from across the country at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne — the location of the first gathering of the Federal Parliament. Chair of the Australian Republic Movement Peter FitzSimons said the event demonstrated the broad bipartisan support within the community.

When the Lord Chamberlain called an emergency meeting of the British Royal Household a few weeks ago, the French media quickly announced that Prince Philip had died and the world expected the worst. Happily, it was a false alarm. However, it did drive home the fragility of the status quo and the fact that the Queen recently turned 91. There is no point denying that the day fast approaches when she will no longer be the Queen. When that happens, there is a plan that will swing into action with the uttering of a secret code from the palace. We will automatically and almost immediately have a new monarch as our head of state.

The next British monarch will be a King — most probably King Charles. And it will be decided not by our own deliberate and independent choice, but by laws of the United Kingdom: the Bill of Rights (1689) and the Act of Settlement (1701) as amended by the UK Parliament in 2010. Moreover, according to the laws of Royal Succession, our new monarch can only be a natural (non-adopted), legitimate descendant of Sophia, Electress of Hanover, and must be in communion with the Church of England. Under the current system, no Australian could ever qualify to the highest office in our country. We currently have no choice in the matter. It will just happen to us, regardless of what we might think. We will simply wake up to the news.


The Prime Minister has said that the proper time to consider the issue of the Republic is upon the Queen's demise. Some say it is disrespectful or morbid to talk about the Queen's passing. I think that's wrong. It is too late. It will allow something enormous to just happen to us while we sit back passively, unable to do anything about it.

The Queen’s Birthday weekend in June in Queensland has slipped away quietly without anyone commenting that it has gone, nor querying why it now pops up in early October for no apparent reason. Perhaps this attitude of irrelevance towards celebrating the Queen’s big day each year is a reflection of the larger attitude towards the British monarchy within our every day lives.

Tickets are available for the ARM Gala Dinner in Mebourne for as little as $50 a head for students and pensioners HERE.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

National Day of Action - ARM


The Australian Republic Movement held its National Day of Action on Saturday, 13 May 2017. Right across this continent the message that Australia should have an Australia head of state, someone who lives here and is proud to be an Australia, was taken to the streets.

UQ Australia Republic Club about to BBQ
In Queensland there were over 60 letterboxers distributing membership flyers from as far afield as Caloundra, Toowoomba, Bundaberg, Montville, Cairns and Southport, and throughout Brisbane. Almost 15,000 letterbox flyers were distributed over the weekend. Australian Republic Movement members were keen and excited to be taking our great national project to the streets to increase our membership at the grassroots level. 

A republic is a country where power is completely in the hands of the people, rather than sharing that power with a Queen or King like we currently do.

The Queen of England hold the top job as Australia's head of state. She appoints the Governor-General as her representative to act on her behalf. Her representative must approve every lawe made by our Parliament, every election and the appointment of every government. Becoming a republic means Australians will do all of this for ourselves without asking the Queen of England or her representatives for approval.

Louise Redmond - Beachmere
Cormac Murphy - Fig Tree Pocket




















Norm Elliott - Cairns
The Advantages of Being a Republic
  • We'll have a head of state that will always put Australia first
  • We won't have to share a head of state with 15 other countries
  • The Constitution will be 100% independent
  • We'll have a head of state that can represent Australian values
  • Aussie kids can aspire to the top job

Find out more at http://www.republic.org.au and join to help make history

Friday, April 21, 2017

For the term of 'her' natural life

Today, the 21st of April, is Queen Elizabeth II’s actual 91st birthday. Well, congratulations to her. However, it's not the day we celebrate it in Australia, for some strange reason.

I’ve written before that it has always seemed absurd that Australians acknowledge the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II at a completely different time to her actual birthday. In Britain, the Queen’s Birthday is celebrated on the first Saturday in June. In New Zealand, it’s the first Monday in June and in Canada, it’s in the middle of May. The Canadian celebration is called Victoria Day because it was created to honour Queen Victoria. However, over the years the Canadian holiday has changed to include the reigning sovereign’s birthday as well. As I wrote last year, Queensland became a little less "Queenie" with the move by the State Government of the Queen’s Birthday holiday from the second Monday in June to the first Monday in October in 2016.

The idea of two birthday celebrations was introduced 250 years ago. Like the Queen, Paddington Bear also has two birthdays a year. The marmalade-loving bear from deepest, darkest Peru has birthdays on 25 June and 25 December. For Queen Elizabeth II, she also has a weekend of celebrations in Britain over the weekend of 9-11 June.

It appears that royalty is a life sentence. At 92, you’d think it would be time to retire. I can’t think of any other profession or role where a 92 year-old is still required (or allowed) to be working full-time. My grandmother will be 92 later this year. She's a hardy soul, but there's no way she would be up to the frantic pace needed to be a world leader! But poor Queen Elizabeth II just keeps working. So when will she be allowed to retire? Most people these days retire by 60, judges are forced to retire at 70, but Queen Elizabeth II, at nearly 91, keeps on working.

We certainly seemed obsessed with celebrating the birthdays of monarchs. But, if royal service is something that you must perform for the term of your "natural" life, then shouldn’t the end of a reign and the passing of a monarch also be as equally commemorated?

There have reportedly been plans put in place for when the Queen dies. According to a recent report in The Guardian UK, there are comprehensive and detailed plans in place for how the world will learn of the Queen’s passing. When the time does come, the Queen’s private secretary will inform the British Prime Minister. Queen Elizabeth’s secret code is "London Bridge is down". This statement will kick off Operation London Bridge — the plan to alert the world the Queen Elizabeth II has died.

But, can the world cope with King Charles III and Queen Camilla? Australian Republic Movement (ARM) chairman Peter FitzSimons has stated:

For many of a conservative persuasion, the last barrier to a republic will be lifted. Australia will look at the monarchy with fresh eyes and decide they prefer a homegrown hero as head of state rather than a foreign monarch.… Every step towards the coronation of Prince Charles will spark increased republican support as Australians say in unison ‘we can do better’.”

The ARM would prefer for Australia to become a republic before the Queen dies. This is not the position taken by Malcom Turnbull – a staunch republican, who was once head of the movement – who has said there should be no push for a republic until support increases. He said he believes that will happen only after Queen Elizabeth’s reign ends. However, FitzSimons does not want to wait for a new king.

The ARM chair continued:

Australians can instead make the change to a republic at a time of our choosing. We can then respectfully thank the Queen for her service and have her pass the baton to us to carry for ourselves. But we know that whatever happens, when King Charles inherits his mum’s job, it’s on”.

In 2014, I asked on the public holiday given for her birthday in Queensland if it isn’t “time to break free?” At the time, there had been a number of abdications by European monarchs. Queen Elizabeth II is unlikely to abdicate. It is most likely the queen will stand by her promise to serve as monarch for the rest of her life. The only time she has suggested she may agree to abdicate is at the end of Sue Townsend’s brilliantly satirical novel Queen Camilla, in which the UK has elected a republican government and the Royal Family has been exiled. Prince Charles will have to keep waiting.

In December 2016, the ARM received a significant boost with confirmation that a majority of Federal parliamentarians – in both houses – support Australia becoming a republic.

This bolsters the bipartisan support for a republic that already exists between the PM and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. It also follows on from the revelation earlier in 2016 that all Australian premiers and territory chief ministers back the move, as does a majority of the public.

Recently, 40 senators and MPs from both the Australian Labor Party and Liberal Party, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, signed up to a parliamentary friendship group for an Australian head of state. Labor Co-convenor Senator Katy Gallagher said that the creation of the Group represented a strong step forward towards the realisation of an Australian republic.

"The establishment of this group signals that there is a strong bipartisan push from the Federal Parliament to see this important national reform happen."

Liberal Co-convenor Jason Falinski MP said that as a long-term supporter of an Australian republic, he’s proud to see the push for an Australian as head of state reach the next level.

There's no doubt Queen Elizabeth II is a sturdy trooper, but the image on the new $5 banknote most certainly does not accurately reflect her age. But when will she be given a retirement watch from "The Firm" and be allowed to sleep in, watch Oprah or potter around in the garden.

To make her keep working at 91 seems cruel and unusual punishment to be undertaken for the term of her natural life.

Monday, March 27, 2017

God Save Who?

Have you ever thought how weird it is having the British monarchy at the apex of the Australian government?

And wouldn't it be weird if ordinary Australians were still singing God Save the Queen. Just like we moved on from that, we can move on from monarchy.

An Australian head of state is the logical next page in our national story. Anything else just seems - well, a bit weird.


It doesn't sound right anymore

Monday, February 27, 2017

Republic clubs alive on Australian campuses

Australian republic clubs have attracted a great deal of interest during university "O-Week", refuting claims of disinterest among young Australians.

Across Australia in recent days, hundreds of university students have shown their enthusiasm for an Australian republic. The following Republic Clubs have held stalls on university campuses: University of Melbourne Republic Club, Western Sydney University Australian Republic Club, Macquarie University Australian Republic Society, Adelaide University Republican Club, Australian National University Republic Club and the University of Queensland Republic Club. As well, on 3 March 2017, University of Sydney Australian Republic Society has scheduled a Republic versus Monarchy debate.

The University of Queensland (UQ) campus has been involved in republican movement activity since the early 1990s. On 12 December 1993, the Australian Republican Movement (ARM) was launched in Brisbane. A public meeting was held on 21 April 1994 at the Abel Smith Lecture Theatre at UQ and the inaugural dinner of the Queensland branch of the ARM was held on 3 December 1994 at Cromwell College, University of Queensland.

On 4 October 1994, the newly formed UQ Republican Association (UQRA) invited then Federal Attorney-General Michael Lavarch to address the issue. More than 50 people gathered inside and outside to hear Michael Lavarch speak. This had been organised by the inaugural UQRA President, Johanna Sing who, in 1994, was an 18-year-old arts/law student who had long been interested in politics. At 17, she had been the youth representative of the ARM in Queensland. She was present at the launch in December 1993 and spoke at the first public meeting of the Queensland Branch at UQ in April 1994. In September 1994, she attended the Young Leaders Conference in Melbourne, at which representatives of all political parties and various interest groups debated many issues, including the republic. By O-Week 1996, the UQ Republican Association was established on the UQ campus.

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the ARM was a presence on UQ campus, particularly during O-Week. This all changed with the student union elections in 2008. From this time on, the "Fresh Party" actively stopped the registration of the UQ Republican Club. However, in late 2012, this changed when the Liberal National Party-aligned "Fresh Party" was investigated.
On 29 December 2012, it was announced that, with the help of the new vice presidents for campus culture, the UQ Student Union had approved the application for UQRA to become an affiliated member of Clubs & Societies. This was the final hurdle in a long battle to have the UQRA reaffiliated at UQ.


Jacqueline Rodgers: 2013-15 President, UQ Republic Club (image by Oscar Green supplied by Australian Republic Movement).

On 25 January 2013, the University of Queensland Republic Club held an Australia Day party in the Great Court as its inaugural annual general meeting. Ably led by Jacqueline Rodgers, an undergraduate student in International Relations/Chinese, the meeting included the official adoption of the club constitution and voting for executive positions. Despite it pouring rain and still being university holidays, they managed a fantastic turnout and easily made quorum for affiliation.

On 20 February 2013, the UQRC held a market day stall during O-Week which attracted 300 visitors, students, staff and MPs, with overwhelming support for an Australian republic.

It’s time for a new conversation about Australia, our identity and our responsibility, and to take the future into our hands as a fully independent nation. It is heartening to see young Australians of all political colours (see the T-shirts) and persuasions all around Australia wrestling with these ideas.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Australian Republic takes to the street on Australia Day

Right across the country this Australia Day, the Australian Republic Movement is taking to the streets with the message loud and clear that Australia is well and truly ready to stand on its own two feet with its own Australian head of state.

Australians are proud of their country and what it means to be an Australian. Australia has emerged as a prosperous and independent nation in so many ways. Yet it still carries the embarrassment of having a head of state that fails to reflect the modern, diverse and independent country we’ve become.  This Australia Day the Australian Republic Movement (ARM)  is calling on all Australians to proudly declare to put our nation and its people first and support the campaign to have a head of state who can do the same.



Australia Day is a crucial time to build momentum around the campaign for an Australian republic. Historically, it has coincided with a surge in ARM membership, national reflection about what it means to be an Australian and renewed support for an Australian republic.

Two years ago today,then Prime Minister Tony Abbott almost united the nation with his decision to mark Australia Day by his infamous “captain’s pick” knighthood of the Queen’s consort Prince Philip. Between waving away flies at a traditional barbecue, the nation was united in scratching its head in wonder and asking: what the ...?

On Australia Day last year, the nation’s premiers and chief ministers again united the nation, in calling for an Australian to be our head of state. This time around, there was no need to scratch heads or ask why. Indeed, it was a hard-to-argue proposition and time to ask why not? Why doesn’t this nation – apparently, the most egalitarian on the planet – allow one of its own to be head of state?

This Australia Day, the ARM is taking to the streets across Australia, including at Commonwealth Park in Canberra, Federation Square in Melbourne, Southbank in Brisbane, Circular Quay in Sydney, as well as in Perth, encouraging Australians to declare their commitment to Australia and its people above all others — something the British Queen, despite being Australia’s head of state, could never do.

Goodwill Bridge, Brisbane. Australia Day 2017
 The political landscape in Australia is definitely changing. The push for a republic has gone from strength to strength in recent years with support from a resurgent membership, the majority of federal parliamentarians, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

On Australia Day 2016, Australia's premiers and chief ministers made public declarations supporting an Australian head of state. The Prime Minister, Federal Opposition Leader, six premiers and the Chief Justice are now all declared republicans. The ARM has now confirmed most Federal MPs and senators want to ditch the monarchy.

It’s a great time to be a republican in Australia. If there was any doubt, it is now clear that there is political consensus on the question of an Australian republic. Make no mistake, the ARM is back in business. With majority support in both houses of the Federal Parliament, Bill Shorten ready to go and the PM announcing his road map to an Australian head of state, it’s full steam ahead.

Australia Day 2017 for the ARM is all about taking the case for an Australian head of state to a new audience. We're asking our members and supporters to pledge their allegiance to Australia over all others (unlike our politicians, who must pledge their allegiance to the Queen).

It’s super easy; all you need to do is go to declare.republic.org.au

So this Australia Day, before you tuck into your lamb chops (or vegetarian sausages), please take a moment to consider that Australia should have a head of state that is one of us.
Better still, once you've signed the pledge, mention it around the BBQ and see if you can't convince another five of your friends and family to do the same.

It appears the points of the Southern Cross are coming into alignment.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The movement for an Australian republic re-energised

It's a great time to be a republican in Australia. The political landscape in Australia is definitely changing. On Australia Day 2016, Australia's premiers and chief ministers made public declarations supporting an Australian head of state. The Prime Minister, Federal Opposition Leader, six premiers and the Chief Justice are now all declared republicans. The Australian Republican Movement has now confirmed most federal MPs and Senators want to ditch the monarchy. 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and wife Lucy at ARM dinner
The Guardian states that in all, 81 out of 150 members of the House of Representatives, and 40 out of 76 members of the Senate have declared their support for an Australian republic, the movement says. According to ARM the number may be even higher as 58 lower house MPs have not stated a position on the republic, with only eleven lower house MPs listed as committed monarchists. In the upper house, 21 senators were undeclared or undecided and only 15 favour the monarchy. This Australian Federal Parliament has a 53.5% majority of declared support for the creation of an Australian republic.

The ARM figures show the Greens are the most pro-republic, with 100% in support, followed by Labor (93%). Just 19 Coalition parliamentarians are openly in support of a republic (17%) although most, 65, are undecided or undeclared. If Labor MPs are bound to support the republic, support climbs to 86 in the lower house and 42 in the Senate, or a 56.6% republican majority.

In a new poll released by the ANU Australian Electoral Study, support for an Australian head of state has hit 53 per cent (reflecting the position of the federal parliament) and outpointed the 51% result in a Newspoll earlier this year.
The new numbers and poll were revealed on the eve of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's highly anticipated speech to the ARM's 25th anniversary dinner. ARM national chair Peter FitzSimons said the dinner wouldhonour those who’ve got us to this point” and Mr Turnbull was “at the forefront of our founding fathers and mothers”.

The dinner is also a moment for the ARM to outline its vision for the future. A vision in which Australia takes the lead and completes the journey to full and final independence,” he said.

On Saturday, 17 December 2016 in the Great Hall at the University of Sydney, he outlined a road map toward an Australia head of state. If you haven't seen it, you can read the speech here.
ARM Mational Chair, Peter Fitzsimons and Turnbulls at Sydney Uni
As ARM National Chair, Peter FitzSimons said in response: 
"tonight we are re-energised as never before". 
However, the PM also made it clear in his speech that this journey should not begin until the end of the Queen's reign.

With respect to Prime Minister Turnbull, we disagree.

Becoming a republic is about Us, the Australian people. We can only assert our independence by ushering in an Australian head of state on our own terms and at a time of our choosing.  
 

Our challenge as republicans is to change Malcolm's mind. Luckily, the PM himself told us how we can do this

"house by house, street by street, and suburb by suburb, we must make the case to our fellow citizens."
 

So that is the plan for 2017. Recruit more members, enlist more volunteers, keep the polls shifting ever northward.
 

Here are three ways you can help:
  • If you're not already a member or your subscription has lapsed, you can join here
  • Buy an Australia Day gift membership for that special republican in your life
  • Chip in to help grow the campaign by donating here
Make no mistake, the Australian Republican Movement is back in business. With majority support in both houses of the federal parliament, Bill Shorten ready to go, and the PM announcing his road map to an Australian head of state, we are on the move.
 

Whether you sign-up as a member, register a friend  or donate, now is the moment to put your shoulder to the wheel. 

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Referendum on an Australian republic succeeds

On 6 November 1999, the Australian Republic Referendum failed, but now it seems Australia's youth are beginning to "mend the nation’s heart".
This time last year, I described how November was Australia’s "republican season". November is the republican end of the year in Australia - a time of the year full of republican symbolism. The republican season includes the anniversary of the 1999 republican referendum, as well as the anniversary of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam’s dismissal by then Governor-General John Kerr in 1975. The latter event remains the most dramatic event in Australia’s political history and began the modern republican movement.
It’s a great time to be a republican in Australia. Recent events have changed the political landscape for the better — and taken the journey towards an Australian head of state a lot closer.

The Australian Republican Movement’s membership has surged over the past 12 months. This had been helped when knighthoods were reintroduced in 2014 and again after the knighting of Prince Philip as then PM Abbott's "captain’s pick" on Australia Day 2015.

On 26 August 2015, the Australian Republican Movement’s chairman, Peter FitzSimons, entertained a full house at the National Press Club in Canberra. Membership doubled in the weeks after Malcolm Turnbull became PM, and have surged over the past 12 months. On Australia Day 2016, Australia's premiers and chief ministers made public declarations supporting an Australian head of state. The political landscape in Australia is definitely changing. The Prime Minister, Federal Opposition Leader, six premiers and the Chief Justice are all declared republicans. It appears the points of the Southern Cross are coming into alignment.

Every year since 1995, a series of Schools Constitutional Conventions occur across Queensland. The Conventions involve secondary students from all three educational sectors — state, Catholic and independent. They provide senior secondary students with an opportunity to engage with and debate Australia’s Constitution and contemporary constitutional issues, as well as the mechanism to select delegates to the National Schools Constitutional Convention held in Canberra each March.

"Should Australia become a republic?” was the question at the 2008 National Schools Constitutional Convention, with 54% in favour and 45% against (there was one informal response).

The students listened as experts in constitutional law outlined three possible republic models for Australia
  • Model 1: A republic with the Queen and Governor-General being replaced by a President selected and appointed by the Prime Minister.
  • Model 2: A republic with the Queen and Governor-General being replaced by a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament.
  • Model 3: A republic with the Queen and Governor-General being replaced by a President elected directly by the electors of Australia.
Each student was required to deliver a brief address outlining their point of view. Following discussion and debate, the students took part in a mock referendum using a preference voting system to determine the preferred model:

  • Model 2 was favoured by 73.1% of students;
  • Model 1 by 18.5%; and
  • Model 3 by 8.4%.
This was only the second time in 13 years that delegates to the Convention voted in favour of amending the Australian Constitution. Decisions taken at the Convention were presented to Deputy President of the Senate John Hogg, Senator for Queensland, for tabling in the Senate.

The 16th National School Constitutional Convention, held at Old Parliament House, Canberra, 22 to 24 March 2011 considered the question, “Should Australia become a republic?”
The Convention comprised 127 students from government, independent and Catholic schools from across Australia, covering metropolitan and country areas. Approximately 55% of students were from government schools, 25% were from independent schools and 20% were from Catholic schools.  After being presented with arguments for and against by leading experts, the students were given an opportunity to ask questions, to clarify points and to seek further information as well as challenge the views put forward by the experts.
When asked to vote on the question “Are you in favour of the Australian Constitution being amended to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a Republic?”, the results were 41 delegates (32%) were opposed to, and 86 (68%) were in favour of, Australia becoming a republic.
The 2016 Metropolitan Queensland Schools Constitutional Convention was held on Wednesday, 5 October 2016 in the Undumbi Room, Queensland Parliament House. There were 13 two-minute speeches delivered by students who were competing for the National Delegate positions. Each student had to deliver a two-minute opinionative speech supporting either the "case for" or "the case against". These had to be prepared in advance.
There were 10 were speeches delivered in favour of the republic (77%) and 3 against (23%). The student group then voted on their top three. The top three speeches voted were in favour of a republic.
Students then voted on the constitutional question as if it was a referendum question.
They were broken into states with the following results:


State
Total Formal Votes
Formal Yes
Formal No
Majority
RESULT
NSW
15
7
8
NO
 
 
YES
VIC
12
11
1
YES
QLD
8
5
3
YES
WA
2
2
0
YES
SA
8
5
3
YES
TAS
5
3
2
YES
ACT
3
1
2
 
 
NT
3
1
2
 
 
 
 
 
TOTAL
53
33
20
 
 
%
100%
62%
38%
 
 

If this had been a referendum of all Australian citizens the majority of commentators beforehand (77%) would have been in favour of a republic, a majority of the people (62%), and a majority of the states (5).

Admittedly, this is a small sample group, however what is very interesting is these results are from young Australians (16-17 year olds). These results indicate this demographic is not opposed to an Australian republic. There was a mixture of state and private school, male and female students. Perhaps these results may indicate with education young people are open to the idea of a republic, although 77% of speakers had made up their mind in favour of it before the Convention. There were no speeches that were blatantly radical and all addressed the issue in a measured way using the logic of the argument.

The votes in favour of an Australian republic at the 2008 National Schools’ Constitutional Convention, the 2009 Queensland Schools’ Constitutional Conventions, and the 2011 National Schools’ Constitutional Convention, begin to show a pattern in the thinking of Australia’s youth to a support of a republican Australia. When given quality information on both sides of the argument, a majority of young Australians see the logic to the removal of the monarchy.

Every day we have a foreigner as a head of state, we are telling our children they are never good enough to hold our top job. That a child living 15,000 kilometres away is more qualified than yours.

It’s time to stop limiting future generations; we must tell them an Australian is good enough to be the head of Australia. We need one of our own in the top job. We are a people who believe in fairness and in a fair go for all. So why is the top job in Australia limited to someone overseas who was born into it and never earned it. Our shared national values mean that any Australian should have the right to our top office rather than complete exclusion from it.


Throughout most of the 1990s, Malcolm Turnbull led and funded the Australian Republican Movement. Even though Turnbull has played no active role in the Australian Republican Movement since the 1999 republican referendum defeat, for many Australians he is still the face of the call for an Australian as head of state. It is his name that many ordinary Australians first mention when the republican argument is brought up.

As the then national chairperson of the Australian Republican Movement, Malcolm Turnbull pinned the 1999 referendum’s defeat squarely on the Prime Minister, John Howard, when he said:

History will remember him for one thing. He was the Prime Minister who broke the nation’s heart.”

It seems the youth of Australia may be the ones who “mend our broken heart” and put the pieces back together again.