Feb 12

No Referendum on Indigenous Recognition

The Australian today reports that Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt has walked back from a commitment by the Morrison Government to hold a referendum on Indigenous recognition in this term after a backlash in the Coalition party room over the vote. Mentioned were Senators Dean Smith (WA), James McGrath and Amanda Stoker (both Qld) who were claimed to have stated that there has been no consultation with MPs over the timeline and no model to take to the electorate. Wyatt described the timeframe as "aspirational" while conceding that he had to work closely with party members and the party room in Canberra to determine what was possible. WfaAR comment: if not to take place by 2022, the rocky road of Indigenous Recognition as well as that of the Republic, just got rockier.

Feb 9

Another Commonwealth Scandal

And still we identify with this organisation! The Commonwealth Secretariat in London is now the subject of a major financial and impropriety scandal. Australia is its third largest donor. Baroness Scotland was briefly UK High Commissioner in Canberra. To read further information, click on link below. Meanwhile, a reported divorce involving one of our Head of State's grandchildren and two of her great-grandchildren can hardly be considered a scandal in todays terms.

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Feb 6

No Anthem at Indigenous Rugby League Match

The Australian Rugby League Commission has dropped playing of the national anthem at its annual All Stars match. The chair said today, "We have listened to our players' concerns that the words of the anthem do not represent them or their families and does not include an acknowledgement of First Nations people. We respect their wishes and have agreed that the anthem will not be played at the All Stars match on February 22." WfaAR comment; Something has significantly shifted here after so much consistent nay-saying and in the right direction. Such a public move that directly involves the game's players and supporters is timely and long-overdue. It is a pity that the Government is unwilling to be as accommodating towards another request by our Indigenous peoples to fully implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart, a critically important constitutional change that will be a necessary precursor to any successful vote on the Republic.

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Feb 5

High Court Hearing on Palace Letters is Republican Paradise

On 4 and 5 February, the High Court has heard submissions from opposing sides in Professor Jenny Hocking's appeal to have the personal correspondence of GG John Kerr with our Head of State in 1975 declared Commonwealth records. To do so, would allow the documents to be considered by the National Archives of Australia (where copies are held) for release. For one and a half whole days, the Court heard discussion about the roles of the Queen and Governor-General and how power is exercised between the two offices. This got a thorough airing in relation to Sections 1 and 2 as well as many other sections of the Constitution where the G-G's powers are set out. It was, in short, republican heaven for hardy campaigners and so timely that this matter and the secrecy of the House of Windsor were given such a comprehensive airing in the highest court in the land. The full-bench of seven justices took a lively interest in proceedings as did the packed gallery in the High Court in Canberra. Both barristers - one an SC and one a QC - raised numerous issues and examples directly relevant to the arguments for a Republic. WfaAR was present for most of the hearing and could only conclude "republic, republic, republic asap" as the cases were laid out and argued. If nothing else, a new start and a new Constitution would sort out some of the vagaries and muddled mess that we now find ourselves in. Most interesting of all was defence barrister Bret Walker's argument that the British Monarch has a role and is not powerless, it's just a special one exercised only by the monarch as Head of State on the advice of her Australian Ministers.  The court has adjourned to consider its decision, not expected until later in the year. WfaAR tweeted key points for republicans. There were plenty of them!

Feb 3

Sleep, Australia, Sleep

Paul Kelly released a new song early February with lyrics that explain how the country is sleep-walking towards inaction on climate change - and one might say long-overdue constitutional and governance change. Set to become a seminal Oz anthem, it is a lullaby as well as a wake-up call, available on Spotify, Facebook and YouTube. It was featured on the 8 February edition of the ABC Arts program,The Mix. ["'A Tipping Point': Paul Kelly's new song attacks climate inaction" by Shona Martin, smh.com.au, 31 January 2020]

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Jan 31

Ozexit - and soon!

In the aftermath of another torrid Australia Day, a letter writer to The Canberra Times captures the mood of Brexit day perfectly: "Following Brexit and Megxit, it's time for Ozexit. Aren't we mature enough to select a workable system of government not dependent on the imprimatur of a foreign monarch?"  WfaAR couldn't have put it better. [Thank you to contributor, Mark Slater of Melba ACT, Letters to the Editor: The Canberra Times, 27 January 2020]

Jan 25

Forget the Flag of Domination

Wise but also tough words from Sydney author and architecture critic Elizabeth Farrelly who writes regularly for The Sydney Morning Herald. She essentially labels modern Australia as a country unable to listen or heed. She poses the questions for an Australia Day in the middle of an immediate climate crisis as the forested (habited) parts of the country in the south-east are burned to the ground in wild firestorms: "What, at this crossroads, does it mean to be Australian?.....Who are we as a nation, and who do we wish to be going forward?" So pertinent for 20 years after the failed Republic referendum. She even touches on the Republic in her conclusions when she singles out the Union Jack bedecked flag as the symbol of the last 232 years of occupation in the light of European Australians - and those who have come post WWII - stubbornness, even refusal, to change and adapt. The whole article is thought-provoking and well worth a read. Click on link below. Elizabeth Farrelly is a republican. ["Survival-by-respect or death-by-stupid: your choice Straya" by Elizabeth Farrelly, The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 January 2020]

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Jan 18

Less Access to Australia's Records held in Windsor Castle

The Australian newspaper reports that "Government House" and the National Archives of Australia made an agreement in 1991, approved by our Head of State Queen Elizabeth II, that provided for the letters of Governors-General Casey, Hasluck, Kerr, Cowen and Stephen to be released after 50 years unless vetoed by either side's officials. The newspaper's request for the vice-regal letters of G-G Richard Casey from 1965-69, eligible for release on 1 May 2019, was refused. The agreement has seemingly been revised and the Palace is henceforth to have sole veto on release over a longer timeframe, ie five years after the Queen dies. This merely adds to lack of transparency over our governance where our Head of State - at its apex - is concerned. See also WfaAR New Updates (16 August 2019 and previous) about Professor Jenny Hocking's lengthy and frustrated attempts to obtain the letters between G-G John Kerr and the Palace over the 1975 sacking of the elected Australian Government. The High Court will hear Hocking's appeal in February 2020. ["Buckingham Palace backtracks on G-G letters deal with National Archives" by Troy Bramston, The Australian online, 18 January 2020]

Jan 9

Let's Give the British Royals the Flick

Meghan and Harry have quit the British Royal family, so should we. It would be a good time to do it as Australia contemplates the future of its Federation in light of the summer's dangerous, destructive and crippling bushfires. The Guardian described the British as having "an infantile fixation "with its royal family and all the trappings. The newpaper forgot to add the three former Dominions still with the British monarch as Head of State having the identical reverence, most particularly Australia.

Quick Info

For a brief but useful guide to republicanism in Australia, see the entry in Wikipedia

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Woman for an Australian Republic, Adelaide Ironside, republican poet and artist, 1831-1867

Self portrait 1855, Newcastle Region Art Gallery NSW

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Senate Inquiry

Report of Senate Inquiry into the Republic Plebiscite Bill released 15 June 2009

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