Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Charles III, you've been dumped.

The pledge of allegiance demanded from every Australian immigrant seeking naturalisation sums up what the whole Oath of Allegiance debate is about.

From this time forward, I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people
Whose democratic beliefs I share
Whose rights and liberties I respect; and
Whose laws I will uphold and obey.

The allegiance for these new Australians is to Australia (as it should be) - simple and undivided.

However, the Australian Constitution prescribes a specific Oath of Allegiance for Federal parliamentarians with a different focus:

I, A.B. do solemnly and sincerely affirm and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Her Heirs and successors according to law.

It seems strange to maintain a system pledging allegiance to a future King who hasn't been here except for a week in the past 12 years. And when he did come he did not even visit Queensland. Instead we had to make do with Gerryn Connolly, the pretender, in Kig George Square.

But it seems there may be more republicans running this country than we thought. Although Howard made it clear during the 1999 republican referendum that he was the champion of the monarchist cause, he may all along have been a closet republican.

Even though the Australian Constitution insists that every member of Parliament pledge allegiance to the House of Windsor forever, after the 1996 federal elections, the new Howard Liberal government dreamt up a new Oath for the Prime Minister and his Ministerial colleagues. The one they take in the privacy of the Governor General's study is:

I swear that I will well and truly serve the people of Australia and I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second.

In this Oath there is nothing about the sons, or the heirs, or the successors, or the laws of the British parliament, which, for example, say that a Catholic is barred from the succession, and if the heir married a Catholic, he is automatically barred from the succession.

It appears Howard and his coeterie have been planning to "cut the painter" upon Lilibet's death for at least 10 years.

This means Howard and is Ministers have dumped the future King Charles III, William IV, Henry IX, Andrew I, and Edward IX. Yet ordinary members of parliament are still bound to the House of Windsor by the Australian Constitution.

Three cheers for the Australian republic ...

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 ...