Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A great day to be an Australian republican

It’s a year today since Prime Minister Tony Abbott almost united the nation with his decision to mark Australia Day by knighting the Queen’s consort Prince Phillip. Between waving away flies at a traditional barbecue, the nation was united in scratching its head in wonder and asking why?

Today the nation’s premiers and chief ministers again unite the nation, in calling for   an Australian head of state. In their signed declaration, they affirm that:   

"We, the undersigned Premiers and Chief Ministers of Australia, believe that Australia should have an Australian as our Head of State." 

This time around, there’s no need to scratch heads or ask why. Indeed, it’s a hard-to-argue proposition and time to ask why not? Why doesn’t this nation (the most egalitarian on the planet) allow one of its own to be head of state?

Thankfully there will be no imperial knighthoods awarded this Australia Day.

The reaction from Australians on all sides of politics showed that Imperial honours are divisive and out of touch with a modern, multicultural, egalitarian Australia. Our identity is Australian, not colonial anymore.

A lot has happened since then.

Prince Charles was greeted by the news that a majority of Aussies would prefer an Australian as Head of State over him. In the most recent poll on the topic, 51 percent of voters support making the move to an Australian republic when Prince Charles becomes King, another 22 per cent are undecided while just 27 per cent of Australians would be opposed to an Australian republic under this scenario.

Other republican activity has seen Peter FitzSimons announced as the Australian Republican Movement's new Chair; Bill Shorten call for an Australian Head of State by 2025 and the ALP renew its policy on an Australian Republic; the axing of knights and dames (with a [dis]honourable mention to Tony Abbot for reintroducing them and then giving one to Prince Philip); and former Australian Republican Movement Chair Malcolm Turnbull become Prime Minister.

In his first interview after becoming Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull said:

"the republic issue cannot belong to a politician; it's got to be a genuine popular movement." 

The Australian Republican Movement has accepted this challenge.

An Australian republic is back in the headlines, and the Australian Republican Movement has bold new leadership with Peter FitzSimons AO. Right now, Australians are thinking and talking about our national leadership, and our national identity, in ways they haven't for a long time.

Our generation has a great challenge to find what unites us rather than what divides us. Becoming an independent republic, created and owned by the Australian people, would better reflect and affirm our values as a free, fair, democratic and multicultural nation.

With the declaration today by state premiers and chief ministers affirming that Australia should have an Australian as our Head of State, if there was any doubt, it is now clear that there is political consensus on the question of an Australian republic.

The challenge set by the PM is to extend this consensus to the broader community and build a campaign with the momentum to force the issue to the top of the national agenda.

As a result, the Australian Republican Movement is calling upon all Australians to join their state and territory leaders in making a declaration in support of the position that Australia's highest office should be reserved for an Australian!

This Australia Day, the ARM accepts the PM’s challenge to go one better and create a genuine popular movement.  

So this Australia Daym before you tuck into your lamb chops (or vegetarian sausages), please take a moment to jump onto change.org/AusRepublic and add your name to the petition along with our state and territory leaders to declare support for an Australian head of state.

Better still, once you've signed, mention it around the BBQ and see if you can't convince another five of your friends and family to do the same.