Friday, November 06, 2009

2009 First National Republican Short Story Competition Winner Announced

Kel Robertson is the winner of the 2009 First National Republican Short Story Competition.

2009 is a milestone as it will be 10 years today since the republican referendum was lost. To commemorate this event and to remind Australians what they still don’t have the Australian Republican Movement held the First National Republican Short Story Competition.

Short stories were required to portray an Australian republican future in a positive light and demonstrate the absurdity of a hereditary monarch as the Australian Head of State in twenty-first century Australian society.

The First National Republican Short Story Competition challenged Australia’s fiction writers to speculate on the possible futures of the Australian republic. Speculative fiction writers deal with possibilities. They speculate. They make the future seem real.

Mr Robertson’s winning short story was titled Rook Feast and tells the story of the final meeting between the King of England who is under house arrest and a Minister of the British government. The Minister (who is also a relative) has come to inform the last King of England “on a perfect English spring day” what is to be his fate. Set in the future where a post-tourism-age appears to have killed the monarchy, Mr Robertson’s story explores concepts of the hidden costs of monarchy through a ‘security expenditure issue’, and the theme of the inevitability of the popular will of the people. The plot is written around a discussion of what will be the individual future of the last King of England.

Rook Feast won the First National Republican Short Story Competition on the strength of the writing. The judges agreed Rook Feast was a fine, well-written short story that successfully managed to take in and make much of the required republican theme. He wins $611.99, and his short story will be published on the Australian Republican Movement website at http://www.republic.org.au/

Kel Robertson, 52 lives in Canberra, and is the author of two critically lauded crime novels featuring the Chinese-Australian Federal Police investigator, Brad Chen. On learning of his win, he commented:

“I am truly delighted to win this competition. I enjoyed myself immensely writing this story; the whole experience was entertaining. As a young man I was very much of my time and had great sympathy for the royal family whereas now I find myself bemused by their activities. It was great fun being able to have some gentle pleasure at their expense.”

The First National Republican Short Story Competition has helped to foster the emerging Australian republican speculative fiction genre. A daily blog was run in conjunction with the First National Republican Short Story Competition as creative stimulus material for writers – see http://republicanfiction.blogspot.com/ Each blog detailed an example of Australian republican speculative fiction writing.

Before every great invention and before every great journey is the idea. Without ideas and imagination, we are all trapped in the past. Mr Robertson’s Rook Feast is an exercise in imagination and helps to lead the way into a possible republican future. The Australian Republican Movement congratulates the winner of this year’s competition and extends its thanks to all entrants.

The First National Republican Short Story Competition presentation ceremony will be held on Wednesday evening, 18 November 2009 during the National Republican Lecture, Southern Cross Club, Canberra.

The Republican Short Story Competition will be run again in 2010.

Monday, September 21, 2009

'To Australia' and 'Australia's Head of State'

It appears all my letter writing to MPs before and after the last State election, constant pestering letters to the Premiers Department, and parliamentary committee submission has paid off.

On 3 September 2009 the ‘Law, Justice and Safety Committee’ (formerly LCARC), Queensland Parliament, tabled in Parliament the report ‘Options for modernising the oaths and affirmations of allegiance in the Constitution of Queensland 2001’. The report can be accessed at http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/ljsc

The Committee recommended that the Constitution of Queensland 2001 be amended so that:

All oaths (and affirmations) of allegiance currently contained in the Act be worded so that allegiance is to be sworn (or affirmed) to Australia AND to EITHER (at the option of the person taking the oath (or making the affirmation):

· Her (or His) Majesty … (name of Sovereign) … as lawful Sovereign of Australia and to Her (or His) Heirs and Successors; or

· Australia’s Head of State and to his or her successors in office.

The Committee noted a divergence of views as expressed in submissions as to whether it is appropriate that it be mandatory to swear an oath of allegiance to the Sovereign. The Committee believes that making it optional to take an oath of allegiance to the Sovereign best caters for these differences of opinion. This allows each individual to make a decision that reflects their own beliefs. Such a decision mirrors the current choice available to all those who are about to take office to either take an oath or make an affirmation, based on their personal beliefs.

At the same time, the Committee sees it as important that there be an oath (or affirmation) of allegiance. The Committee therefore proposes that, where an election is made to not swear (or affirm) allegiance to the Sovereign, there be a requirement to swear allegiance in terms ‘to Australia’ and to Australia’s ‘Head of State’.

This is more than we could have hoped for! Now we have to keep our fingers crossed to see if Parliament will enact the report.

Three cheers for the coming republic!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Republican challenge to Australian writers

2009 is a milestone as it will be 10 years on 6 November 2009 since the republican referendum was lost. To commemorate this event and to remind Australians what they still don’t have the Australian Republican Movement is running the First National Republican Short Story Competition.

Short stories will be required to portray an Australian republican future in a positive light and demonstrate the absurdity of a hereditary monarch as the Australian Head of State in twenty-first century Australian society.

It seems strange there is no tradition of republican speculative fiction in Australia. In colonial times there were republican poets such as Charles Harpur writing in the 1840s and 1850s, and republican writers such as John Dunmore Lang and Daniel Deniehy in the 1850s and William Lane, Henry Lawson and John Norton in the 1880s and 1890s. But where have been the republican stories for the past century? There have certainly been many republican writers during this time but almost no examples where republican settings or arguments have been explored in Australian fiction. Republican arguments and explorations of the past and imaginations of the future are always written within the framework of constitutional debates.

Where do the people of Australia fit into this? Where are their myths and stories to tell and retell and remember about Australia’s emerging republican identity?

This First National Republican Short Story Competition challenges Australia’s fiction writers to speculate on the possible futures of the Australian republic.

Speculative fiction writers deal with possibilities.

They speculate.

They make the future seem real.

However, we can’t achieve anything unless we imagine it first. Before every great invention and before every great journey is the idea. Without ideas and imagination, we are all trapped in the past.

So, the Australian Republican Movement (Q) would like to point the way forward through Australian stories with a republican backdrop. They don’t have to be political thrillers or constitutional whodunits as long as they are an exploration of our future, our republican future.

Entry Form.

The Australian Republican Movement invites submissions of original short stories to be considered for the First National Republican Short Story Competition.

How to enter

Simply fill in the entry form and send together with a cheque for $11.99 and your republican speculative fiction short story to:

Australian Republican Movement
PO Box 87
Geebung QLD 4034

Entries must be the original work of the entrant and must not have won another competition.

First prize is $611.99

Personal Details

Given Name(s) / Surname__________________________________________________
Postal address______________________________________________
Email address______________________________________________
Story title_________________________________________________

Please write the title of your story on each page of your submission.By submitting my entry into the competition I agree to be bound by the terms and conditions of the competition. (posted at http://republicanfiction.blogspot.com/ )

Signature _______________________ Date _________

Entries will be accepted until close of business on 31 August 2009.

Further information contact qld@republic.org.au or go to http://republicanfiction.blogspot.com/

Competition Terms and Conditions.

1. Entry is open to all Australian residents. Entry forms can be downloaded from http://republicanfiction.blogspot.com/

2. The purpose of the short story competition is to promote non-constitutional change towards an Australian republic and to remind Australians what they still do not have.

3. Short stories will be required to portray an Australian republican future in a positive light and demonstrate the absurdity of a hereditary monarch as Australian Head of State in twenty-first century Australian society.

4. First prize is $611.99. The First Prize and Short Listed stories are eligible for publication in Republican Roundup and on the ARM website. Copyright of each short story will remain with the author.

5. Entry fee is $11.99 (incl GST). Each additional submission fee is $6.11 (incl GST) Entry fees are to be paid by money order or cheque to Australian Republican Movement. Please do not send cash.

6. Entries must be unpublished and not have won any other awards. Each manuscript entered must meet all of the following requirements:
* Length -- 2000 to 4000 words
* Typed -- double spaced on one side of the paper
* Title Page -- must include your name, address, phone number, story title, length, and email
* Do not submit originals. Manuscripts will not be returned.
* While appropriate colourful language might be accepted (within moderation), entries must not contain extreme foul language, racial or sexually explicit content that would render the entry unsuitable for publication.
* Electronic copies will be accepted at qld@republic.org.au
* Deadline -- postmarked on or before 31 August 2009 (Advice: enter early -- avoid deadline crush)

7. The competition will be judged by Nick Earls, Professor Brian Matthews, Professor John Warhurst, and Dr Glenn Davies. The judging committee will select the best short stories from the qualified entries and determine the winners. The decision of the judging committee is final.8. The prize money will be awarded by Australian Republican Movement in accordance with the decision of the judging committee. First Prize will be publicised on 6 November 2009. Each contestant after 6 November 2009 will receive the following information: Name of the competition winner / Name and background of the judges / The 2009 competition statistics9. Mail signed official entry form and your manuscript (s) on or before 31 August 2009 to: Australian Republican Movement (Qld), PO Box 87, Geebung Q 403410. If you have any questions, please feel free to email qld@republic.org.au or post a blog query at http://republicanfiction.blogspot.com/

Best of luck!

Judging Panel announced.

The judging panel was announced on 1 May 2009 for the First National Republican Short Story Competition.

Nick Earls is the author of twelve books, including bestselling novels such as Zig Zag Street, Bachelor Kisses, Perfect Skin and World of Chickens. His contribution to writing in Queensland led to him being awarded the Queensland Writers Centre’s inaugural Johnno award in 2001 and a Centenary Medal in 2003.

Professor Brian Matthews is Honorary Professor of English at Flinders University. He has won the Victorian, New South Wales and Queensland Premiers' awards for literature and the Gold Medal of the Australian Literature Society. His most recent book is Manning Clark A Life.

Professor John Warhurst recently concluded fifteen years as Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University. He is Adjunct Professor at both ANU and Flinders University, Senior Deputy Chair, Australian Republican Movement and was ARM Chair from 2002 to 2005.

Dr Glenn Davies is Queensland State Secretary, Australian Republican Movement, a republican historian and author, and a 2008-2009 Aurealis Awards Speculative Fiction judge.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Battle of the Major-General's

Until March 2009 the Australian Governor General was Major General (ret) Michael Jeffrey, the National President of the RSL was Major General (ret) Bill Crews, and the National Convenor of the Australian Republican Movement was Major General (ret) Mike Keating.

It was interesting to watch the Canberra Major General's Club fighting amongst themselves.

See Mike Keating's Queen's Birthday interview on 'Sunrise' at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwnPri9bASw

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Republican’s begin to gather

Australia’s leading republican groups joined forces on the 2009 Queen’s Birthday weekend for a renewed push to cut the nation’s ties to the monarchy.

Divisions between the organisations over whether a president should be elected or appointed were blames for helping to defeat the republican campaign at the referendum in 1999.

A Republican Gathering of republican groups in Melbourne on 30 – 31 May 2009 decided they should unite in an active coalition to urge the Government to conduct a national plebiscite to give the Australian people a say in the future republic of Australia. The meeting was convened by Women for an Australian Republic and included the Australian Republican Movement, Real Republic Limited, the Copernican Republicans, the Foundation for Constitutional Renewal, Patriots for the Australian Republic, Republic Now!, and the Republican Party of Australia.

This is an historic first and unites previously opposed groups under the name Coalition of Australian Republicans (CAR) with a common commitment to the sovereignty of the Australian people and shows the determination of the broader republican movement to unite to give support to the Australian people’s determination to be central to any change to their Constitution.

The Coalition of Australian Republicans agreed on the following principles:
1. The Australian people must own the process leading to a republic – including the selection of the republican model to be put to the required referendum.
2. One or more non-binding plebiscites should be part of the process of moving towards the final referendum.
3. We should not wait until the death or abdication of the Queen but should determine our own timetable to discuss our own future.
4. Our elected representatives, whether state or federal, should swear allegiance to Australia and her people - not the British crown.

On a broader scale Common Cause was formed in early 2005 as an Alliance of the four Commonwealth Republican Movements: the Australian Republican Movement (ARM); Citizens for a Canadian Republic (CCR); the Republican Movement of Aotearoa New Zealand; and Republic in the UK. Sharing a Commonwealth heritage, the four republican organisations joined forces to pursue their common cause... to bring about four new Commonwealth republics across the globe. Common Cause provides a framework for the member organisations to share information, resources and ideas to bring about their common goal.

In five of the remaining Commonwealth members with Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State, republican movements are gaining ground - a recent poll by Angus Reid Strategies in Canada indicates that 53% of Canadians support ending the monarchy, while only 35% support the status quo. Citizens for a Canadian Republic leader Tom Freda added "Republican support jumps to 55% versus 31% when respondents are asked about retaining the monarchy with Prince Charles as the successor to Queen Elizabeth II".

In light of growing republican sentiment in New Zealand, the race to become the newest republic within the Commonwealth is definitely on. Australia had better move or we'll find ourselves the last of the colonial monarchies.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

How about a Head of State that supports Australia at sport

Prince William, despite being Australia's future monarch, has thrown his support wholly and solely behind England's 2018 World Cup bid. This is despite another of his future dominions, Australia, also bidding for hosting rights to the event. Clearly, he regards himself as English, and perhaps a little bit Welsh, but not at all Australian. See Link

Kevin Rudd was at the launch for Australia’s bid for the 2018 World Cup. So was Malcolm Turnbull. It seemed many Australians had thrown their support behind the bid.

Australia’s future king, Prince William, supported the bid – but of Australia’s main rival to host the tournament, England. Of course he is head of England’s Football Federation. How about we have a Head of State that cares enough to support Australians at sport and doesn’t barrack for our opponents.

Australia’s World Cup bid, 2018. Australian Republic ASAP!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The sovereign people of Queensland

As far as a republic is concerned there is never a better time than now. It is an exciting time with the federal leaders of both major political parties being supporters of an Australian republic, the Greens leader Bob Brown introducing a bill into the Senate that will allow a plebiscite to be held at the next election on support for an Australian republic, and the Governor General announcing earlier this month while on tour in Africa she agrees with Prime Minister Rudd that Australia will become a republic.

Recent public opinion polls and the 2020 Summit show there is a groundswell of support for an Australian republic. Indeed, the majority of the Year 11 and 12 student delegates to the School’s Constitutional Conventions held from Townsville to Brisbane in late February 2009 voted in favour of the creation of an Australian republic. On 18 March 2009, 122 Year 11 and 12 students from across the country came together for the 14th National Schools Constitutional Convention in Canberra to debate the topic A new Constitutional preamble for Australia? This is an important debate for Australia's up and coming generation to engage in as it goes to the heart of how we identify ourselves as Australians.

In February 2009 the Legal, Constitutional and Administrative Review Committee (LCARC), Queensland Parliament called for submissions to assist with the developing of the text of a draft preamble for the Queensland Constitution. The preamble to any Queensland Constitution needs to include a statement on the sovereignty of the people of Queensland.

By letter dated 17 May 2001, the then Premier asked the LCARC of the 50th Parliament to consider Recommendation 7 of the Members’ Ethics and Parliamentary Privileges Committee report No.44, namely:

That the Oath of Allegiance taken by members of the Legislative Assembly be reviewed, within current constitutional arrangements, as part of the consolidation of the Queensland Constitution and that such review take into account the aspirational statements contained in the previous Members’ Ethics and Parliamentary Privileges Committee’s Statement of Commitment.

The members’ Oath of Allegiance was then contained in Section 4 of the Constitution Act 1867 (Qld). In its report on the issue, the committee recommended that the Queensland Constitution should be amended so that members of the Queensland Legislative Assembly should be provided with the option as to whether to swear or affirm allegiance to the Crown, or only to the people of Queensland. During the previous term of the Queensland Parliament, the then Premier announced that the Government would change the legislation requiring Parliamentarians to take an Oath or Affirmation of Allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen, and instead allow Members to elect to swear or affirm their allegiance to the Parliament and People of Queensland. In August 2005 the Constitutional and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2005 was introduced into Parliament by the then Premier which contained amendments in this regard. Similar reforms have been enacted in New South Wales, Western Australian and the ACT.

In November 2004 the LCARC report A Preamble for the Queensland Constitution? recommended against the adoption of a preamble due to “the possible need to modify any preamble if Australia moved to a republican system of government”. On 19 May 2005 the Queensland Government’s response to the report A Preamble for the Queensland Constitution? supported the LCARC recommendation. It appeared the main justification for not adopting a preamble to the Queensland Constitution was the concern over the community debate regarding a republican system of government in Australia and yet in August 2005 the Queensland Government introduced the Constitutional and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2005 that allowed members of parliament the opportunity to swear or affirm allegiance only to the people of Queensland. This Bill was not debated or passed prior to the 2006 State election an as a result the Bill lapsed.

It appears the LCARC is strongly convinced a change to an Australian republican system of government will occur in a relatively short timeframe. The LCARC sense of inevitability is impressive. Referring to the sovereignty of the people of Queensland in a preamble to the Queensland Constitution is in keeping with public sentiment. If the Oath of Allegiance to the Queen is considered such an archaic and outdated procedure that is not in keeping with modern parliamentary practice or with public opinion that the Queensland Government would adopt a position that is grounded in republican sentiment then why would the inclusion of reference to the sovereignty of the Queensland people in a preamble result in the removal of support and development for a preamble?

Amending the Oath of Allegiance to the Queen is in keeping with public sentiment and is an action the Queensland Government is bound to by its promise to alter the legislation requiring an Oath to the Monarch. The current Oath is outdated and has little meaning to the majority of Queenslanders.

Advice from the previous Chief of Staff, Office of the Premier was that a decision about whether to re-introduce the Bill into the House would be made in due course. In early 2008 it was advised that should it be determined that the proposed legislative amendments are supported a Bill would be introduced into Parliament as soon as practical after that time.

It has been over a year now since the Rudd Federal Ministry took an Oath to Australia, its land and its people rather than to Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors. There has been no public outcry or sense of disappointment about the change. It has been overwhelmingly positively received throughout Australia. This constitutes evidence of support for the required Queensland legislative amendments.

One of the first activities for members of the 53rd Queensland Parliament will be swearing an Oath of Allegiance to the Queen. The question is whether Queensland's elected representatives should have an allegiance to the monarch of a foreign country or to the people who elected them. All members of parliament need to support the amendment of the Oath of Allegiance to the Queen through the enactment of legislation to implement the parliamentary committee’s recommendations and the intent of Constitutional and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2005. The Oath of Allegiance to the Queen is an archaic and outdated procedure that is not in keeping with modern parliamentary practice or with public opinion.

What is needed is reform of the Queensland Oath of Allegiance to give members of parliament an additional choice of oath - one that does not include the Queen. Members of the Queensland Parliament will be required to swear or affirm to be "faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty and her heirs and successors according to law". They need to consider adding when swearing or affirming - ”and I will acknowledge the will of the people of Queensland in all deliberations”. This is not an Oath and therefore does not conflict with the constitutional requirements of members of parliament.

With reference to the text of a draft preamble for the Queensland Constitution the Queensland Government needs to lead by example and implement a preamble that begins with “We, the People of Queensland“ and includes a statement on the “sovereignty of the people of Queensland”.

Three cheers to the coming republic!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Fond Farewell to dear Liz
In his first 2008 Boyer Lecture, Rupert Murdoch urged Australians to declare their independence from Britain. "The establishment of a republic of Australia will not slight the Queen, nor will it deny the British traditions, values and structures that have served us so well" he said. As usual, Murdoch got straight to the heart of the matter. He is right when he says it would be a mistake to rush into a republic without acknowledging the role Britain played in defining our national character. Whether we like it or not, Britain made us what we are today. And I suspect there can be no harmonious transition to a republic without acknowledging the civilising effect of the monarchy on our history.

However, don't imagine Her Majesty will take offence at Australian's cutting the apron-string. She won't. In 1999 the rejection of the republic referendum was more an expression of popular mistrust of politicians than an indication of royalist sentiment. When told of the result the Queen said she would continue to serve as Queen of Australia under the Constitution. But she made it clear she would not stand in the way of a republic. "I have always made it clear that the future of the monarchy in Australia is an issue for the Australian people and them alone to decide, by democratic and constitutional means", she said.

The National Chair of the Australian Republican Movement, Michael Keating says it would be wrong to wait until the Queen dies before acting. "Philosophically it is wrong for us to link our national future to the health of a dear old lady living in England", Keating said. "People who say, 'I love Elizabeth but don't like Charles' are not putting their belief in any system".

It will no doubt take a couple of years to 'go through the process' of cutting ties with Britain. Perhaps Australia had better hurry up. A poll on Prince Charles's 60th birthday found 72% of Britons did not want Camilla to be Queen. Britain may be a republic before us.

Three cheers to the coming republic!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Australia Day 2009

One of the reasons Australians want a republic is because we feel embarassed to hear that in official functions our foreign diplomats stand to their feet and toast the Queen as our legitimate leader. Also we feel disappointed for our kids when we have to tell them they can't aspire to be the Australian head of state. We cringe when we hear the Barmy Army mockingly sing 'God Save Your Queen' at the Ashes. In essence, we are patriots. We want Australia to be completely sovereign and independent. That's wahy Australia Day is a special day for republicans. It's a day we like to celebrate and honour with fervour and passion.

video

On Australia Day 2009 dozens of Postcode Parties were held around Australia in parks and at beaches where a glass was raised to the coming republic. It is this involvement of the Australian community at a grassroots level that bodes well for future change.

The republic is about national identity. It's about having pride and confidence in us as Australians. It's about the future of our country and Australia's place in the world in the twentyfirst century. It is something that is well worth fighting for and the process that will allow us to reach the goal is a potentially unifying national experience.

Three cheers for the coming republic!