Friday, November 30, 2007

Charters Towers provides another republican secretary

Last week I was elected Queensland State Secretary, Australian Republican Movement. Although I was happy to accept the position it did give me pause to reflect on my own personal history and that of Fred Passey, Secretary of the Charters Towers-based Australasian Republican Association during early 1890. Fred left Charters Towers in mid-1890 and a few months later became Secretary of the Brisbane branch of the Australasian Republican Association.

Interestingly, my family have lived in the north Queensland goldfield town of Charters Towers since 1890 and with the next generation of my brother's family born there it looks like our presence will continue into this third century. Having grown up in a historic gold-mining town with strong family links and heritage foundations, it was natural that I would take up the study of history. In 1988 I completed a History Honours thesis at James Cook University on the 1890-1891 Charters Towers republican movement. The ARA saw itself as the parent body of an expanding movement and actively encouraged the creation of republican branches throughout Queensland.

A public meeting was called in Brisbane on Thursday, 11 September 1890, in the Victoria Chambers, over Grimes and Petty's, Queen Street to establish a Brisbane branch of the ARA. The main impetus behind the formation of the Brisbane branch was Fred Passey, the ex-secretary of the ARA. The Brisbane branch of the ARA held regular weekly meetings in the Victoria Chambers. The first three topics were: republicanism; independence of Australasia; and the federation of the Australasian colonies into one grand Democratic Commondale.

The Brisbane branch of the ARA was responsible for starting branches of its own. One was established in the Valley and it was intended to have branches in all suburbs. A delegate from the Brisbane branch also visited Gympie in order to start a republican branch on that goldfield.

It appears Charters Towers has again provided Queensland with a republican secretary.

Three cheers for the coming republic!