Friday, August 04, 2006

My (republican) Oath.
There has been talk over the past week in Queensland on the possibility of calling an early State election. For republicans in Queensland the swearing-in ceremony after the election will be groundbreaking.

In State and Federal parliaments, a member of parliament has not been able to take his/her seat in parliament without first swearing an oath of allegiance to the Queen. Many Australians have felt that this effectively negates the democratic wish of the people as expressed at the ballot box.

All this changed at 12.39pm on 23 August 2005, when Queensland Premier Peter Beattie rose to speak in the Legislative Assembly:

"I am pleased", he said, "to introduce the Constitutional and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2005 ... The Bill provides the option for members of the Legislative Assembly, ministers and judges to make an oath or affirmation of allegiance to the Crown."

In other words, following the next State election, Queensland MPs will be able - for the first time - to swear allegiance to the Queen or solely to the people of Queensland.

Symbols are important. The oath of allegiance has been changing around Australia.

On Thursday, 7 April 2005, two days before the latest royal marriage, the New South Wales Legislative Assembly passed a Bill to change the Oath of Allegiance.

Since 1995, members of the ACT Legislative Assembly have had the option of declaring their allegiance to the people of the ACT, instead of the Queen.

In South Australia, a Bill which give's MPs the option of swearing allegiance to the state's people rather than the Queen passed through the Lower House in July 2004.

The times they are a'changin and the oaths are changing with them. It will be fascinating at the next Queensland swearing-in ceremony to watch which option the new class members take. Will their first loyalty be to the monarchy on the other side of the world or to the people of Queensland?

Three cheers for the Australian republic ...

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