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.