Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Happy third birthday IA — the voice of an independent Australia

Independent Australia turned three yesterday. I remember how three years ago the first article was published. This was the day after the night of the ‘long knives’ when Julia Gillard rolled Kevin Rudd. As Rudd was being politically assassinated, Independent Australia emerged as an independent Australian voice.

Since those early days, Independent Australia has become the premier republican voice in Australia. Within the space of three years Independent Australia has become the modern day version of The Bulletin in its heyday of the 1880s and 1890s.

Australia has a long tradition of independent, republican journalism. This tradition was first established in newspapers such as the People’s Advocate and the Empire of the 1840s and 1850s, supported in The Age in the 1870s and 1880s, and a constant theme in publications in the 1890s such as the Newcastle Radical, the Wagga Hummer, the Cairns Advocate, the Melbourne Tocsin, the Hobart Clipper, and John Norton’s Truth. But it was in the pages of the Bulletin in the 1880s and 1890s where the flowering of republican ideals can be seen to emerge.

Over the past three years, the task of documenting our shared republican history has been taken on by writers such as senior correspondent Barry Everingham, Dr Benjamin Thomas Jones, Lewis Holden, Scott Crawford, Dr Klass Woldring, John Skene, Robert Vose, Roy McKeen, Yves Sanz, Alan Austin, Kelly Butterworth, Sarah Brasch, Len Liddelow as well, of course, as myself and David Donovan himself. But there is still a great deal more to document. Australia’s republican past has a rich and deep seam. It’s important to remember though that our future is inextricably linked to our shared past.

Independent Australia believes in a fully and truly independent Australia, a nation that determines its own future, a nation that protects its citizens, its environment and its future. A country that is fair and free.

Interestingly, 100 years ago the then Labor Prime Minister Andrew Fisher was attempting to ‘Australianise’ our government system and national symbols. Fisher took a keen interest in the complex question of national identity. Home-grown symbols, he knew in his heart, were essential for a nation so young. The fragile cultural fabric needed connections, some stitching, and some leadership.

Among other initiatives, such as the introduction of the Australian penny in 1911, Fisher had the Australian Coat of Arms (designed by the College of Arms in England) remodelled to give it a more Australian flavour by having wattle included as the decoration surrounding the Coat of Arms. 100 years later David Donovan continues to fight the good fight of Fisher’s to create an independent Australia.

It has been a long time since Australia has had such a strong republican voice as Independent Australia. Australia’s republican voice has been lost for a long time. There have certainly been many writers, artists, academics, and politicians who have actively advocated for an Australian republic over the past century, however they have not had a home where they can all shelter under the same roof. Independent Australia has become that space, a republican space — a republican civic space where republicans and others can debate the issues that are important to our political and civic future. Republican voices now have a home. All families need a home. Thanks to David Donovan and all the contributors to Independent Australia, the republican tribe can begin to look around and see who they are.

Congratulations to Managing Editor David Donovan who has nurtured his baby to this milestone and here’s to a long, independent life — and remember, every tribe needs a home.

IA managing editor David Donovan — at home.

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