Sep 12

WfaAR Statement of Support for The Voice

WfaAR strongly supports a YES vote for The Voice.

This is an practical example of "We, the people". Recognising Australia's Indigenous People in the Constitution and giving them a say in the federal laws and policies that govern them is a decidedly republican way of going about things. 

The Voice is an essential first step in creating 21st century Australia as a Republic of equals. Without it, we cannot show that we, as one united people, are anywhere close to becoming a Republic of our own making.

Casting an informed vote in this referendum and voting wisely is an engagement in finding the way towards our country's future that all voters can share in.

WfaAR is enthusiastic that people will be actively participating in a federal referendum after a break of 24 years, learning about the Constitution, how it can be and should be changed for the better.

This is urgent, nation-building work that will lead to a Republic.

Authorised by Sarah Brasch, Canberra

Sep 11

Writs Issued for Referendum

The Governor-General issues the writs to allow the referendum on Indigenous Recognition to go ahead on 14 October. There is no turning back now as the campaign starts in earnest..There are reports and polls revealing many soft voters on both sides and still uninformed or unaware voters.

Sep 9

The Voice Will Let Women Speak

YES campaigner, Megan Davis states that a successful result will be an 'investment in female voices" for the betterment of Indigenous communities and a better future for young Indigenous women. She explains: "One of the most important design elements of The Voice is that it will have equal numbers of women and men on it. This is transformative. Constitutional entrenchment of The Voice means the state will be compelled to respect and prioritise this fundamental political right to participate for Indigenous women." As a feminist group, WfaAR is inspired by this aspect of The Voice. As far as we know, this will be a first in Australian federal law, a very encouraging first. ["Let our women speak"by Megan Davis, The Weekend Australian 9-10 September 2023]

Sep 8

First Anniversary of Previous Head of State's Death

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Australia's former head of state, died a year ago today. 12 months on, it seems that little has changed while the anniversary passed almost unnoticed in our country - see "Huge first year for King Charles III" by Laura Elston published in the ACM press, a puff piece promoting the new monarch, clearly written for an audience in the UK and showcasing the British republican movement.  Australians have quickly become used to and familiar with a new person on the Australian throne, eldest son and heir King Charles III who has bee around for quite a while. We see very little of the British royals on a daily basis. They are like a distant backdrop to our lives but they mean little to us in a practical sense. The King's representative in Australia, Governor General David Hurley, keeps a mostly low profile but still sits at the apex of our government required to give many approvals and confirm appointments (see News of 11 September) plus enact royal assent to our laws. So it's business as usual. Even though missed by some as she fades from memory, Queen Eizabeth's demise did not act as the great catalyst for the Australan republic most active republicans claimed it would. WfaAR was not among them. 

Sep 3

Contested Facts

One alarming aspect of the current referendum build-up and campaign has been contested facts and widespread misinformation. Julianne Schultz speculates whether The Voice to Parliament can be achieved: "In this new order where 'facts' are contested, different (contradictory) versions can be targeted at niche communities. The aim is to disrupt, delay, subvert and confuse. Especially to confuse". Social media she contends, "is confusions optimised delivery mechanism". And we all know uninformed, confused compulsory voting leads to NO. This trend has been continuously evident and increasing in stable democracies since the era of Trump's America.  Read her article from The Guardian on the link below. Increasingly, the campaign against The Voice is being promoted by often wacky fringe protest groups including sovereign citizens peddling misinformation dating back to Covid times resulting in disharmony, threats to stability and decreasing trust in government. ON the other hand, some are observing that the YES case cannot be won by facts and reason, it's all in the emotions whipped up by either side!  ["In the new order where 'facts" are contested, can an Indigenous voice to parliament be delivered?" by Julianne Schultz, The Guardian online, 3 September 2023]

More info >

Jul 18

2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria Cancelled

This announcement was as sudden as it was striking as it gave concrete form to the plummeting reputation of the Games - not to mention the Commonwealth itself - with no guarantee that they will ever held again. According to the Victorian Premier, they would have been too expensive to stage for poor return. Like everything else, this triggered a range of views including that the Commonwealth should be cancelled (this should be an outcome of the Australian Republic that we excuse ourselves and make as hasty exit from such a tainted association) but, best of all, we liked Sky TV host and former PM chief of staff Peta Credlin AM's conclusion. Under the banner "Cruel Decision to Ditch Games Revokes Queen's Memory", she stated, "Her Majesty's legacy has been thoroughly trashed by this appalling, selfish decision. King Charles will be devastated by this treasonous behaviour". Treasonous? Pretty amusing, totally OTT. WfaAR is sure Charles thinks avoiding another trip to Australia is a highly desirable outcome. Quite a few commentators linked our former Head of State's death with the rapid decline in the reputation of the Commowealth but we have to reflect on how long the fact of Queen Elizabeth herself personally held the whole show in place - was it really because no Commonwealth leader/s had the bravery to advise their monarch how it all looked in the 21st century and seek abolition or leave - not that that would have been news to the Queen herself who was a canny observer of realpolitik but hung on as long as she could to leave Charles in the best possible position at the start of his reign. The real question for today is why this created such a to-do in the MSM and why we didn't all just yawn and move on. Britain uses "the Commonwealth", ie of the conquered and colonised, as an important plank in its own identity as well as a vehicle for much soft diplomacy in its own interests. The Commonwealth Games were formerly known as the (British) Empire Games. There's some commentary below about the link between the cancellation of Victoria's hosting, the Commonwealth and the Republic ["Does Victoria's cancellation sound a death knell for the Commonwealth Games" by Mary Gearin, ABC online, 18 July 2023]

More info >

Jul 2

Cricket Catalyst?

Whoever would have thought....the stuffy old ball game that Britain bequeathed to its empire as a catalyst for the Australian republic. Nothing is more contested, promoting national pride and interest in both hemispheres than any cricket series between England and Australia. On this day, there was an "unfair" decision (largely depending on which side you were on) dismissing an England batter from the contest. It was quite complicated - as unwritten rules are meant to be, as well as open to interpretation -  carefully explained in the article on the link below. Similar to the UK Constitution also unwritten but the British don't seem to be much bothered by this fact or an unelected upper house of parliament, membership by either inheritance or government nomination. The arguments about this cricket incident will go on for years among the blokes. It's the way they do things, of course, with a solid British overlay of despising one's inferiors when the crass colonials, known for law bending themselves, beat the deserving home team. Much of this stems from privilege and a mindset that is a hangover of conquest. No one seems to remember how "bodyline" in the 1930s almost ruptured relations between the UK and Australia or that Australian crowds can give visiting English teams and players a very rough time of it. However, WfaAR comments: the sooner Australia severs its constitutional ties to the UK and its class system, so foreign to us, the better. ["In the very best cricket tradition, Bairstow v Carey turned on a man saying 'over'" by Barney Ronay, The Guardian online 2 July 2023]. We also, of course, have an excellent women's national cricket team that seems to win without controversy - no wonder women like cricket!

More info >

Jun 19

Republic Part 1 on the Runway

The Indigenous Recognition Referendum bill passes the Senate 52-19 after debate over several days. We now have the precise proposition to be put to referendum between 19 August and 19 December 2023. This is the first stage of becoming a republic by bringing everyone together to take the first steps to become a truly Reconciled Republic, so essential for the Republic's eventual success. WfaAR wishes this endeavour well and earnestly supports a YES vote.

Jun 14

Australian Women Turning Off News

A recent survey reveals only 43 percent of Australian women (compared with 62 percent of men) are very or extremely interested in news.This proportion of women has fallen by 16 percentage points since 2017 compared to a 6 percentage points drop for men. 47 percent of women in the survey (total 2025) thought that news covers women fairly and has enough coverage of matters relevant to women. 55 percent of women say they want positive news stories and 46 percent say they want news that suggest solutions rather than points out or poses problems. Women are more likely than men to say that they are avoiding topics such as national politics and sports. Findings from previous surveys suggest the top reasons that women avoid news are because there is too much coverage of politics and/or it negatively affects their mood. Only 39 percent of women in the survey say they trust what's in the news. These figures should spark the interest of referendum and constitutional change campaigners. ["Women's interest in news hits a record low" by Kieran McGuinness and Sora Park, BroadAgenda online, 14 June 2023. Research conducted by the News & Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra]

More info >

Jun 13

The Case for Community-Based Referendum Campaigning

In the third of the Australia Speaks series held at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, Cathy McGowan emphasises the new - and successful - political action that is based in and around community rather than the narrow and conforming power politics engaged in by formal political parties as we know them. McGowan won the seat of Indi as an independent in 2013 and served two terms in the federal parliament paving the way for The Teals at the 2022 election (she is known as their 'godmother'). And it all starts with discussions around kitchen tables to spread information, educate and hear feedback. It didn't take much to find out that everyone has an interest in politics and opinions to share, she says. And tellingly added that there isn't a known way to the future, we - the community - make our own paths towards it. This is an approach that needs serious consideration when planning for successful referendums and forms much of the basis of the YES case campaigning for Indigenous Recognition in 2023. It will be possible to assess its effectiveness in the short term and well before the coming Republic referendum. Imagine us all sitting together and working out how our Republic will be created and what kind of Australia it will represent: our own Australia. McGowan also repeatedly stressed the importance of all aspects of the arts and culture in forming political opinions and determining attitudes to democracy. And she commented in conclusion, "it's not what you do, it's how you do it".

Jun 12

Now it's the King's Birthday Holiday

King's Birthday is celebrated for the first time as an annual, national public holiday in Australia. By 2023, this is tedious and repetitive but helpfully reminds us how hereditary monarchy works (goes on and on of its own accord), who the Australian monarch actually is (an old man lacking charisma in mauve PJs with a sparkling crown on his head as well as being Supreme Governor of the Church of England) and how he has been foisted upon our country without consultation. However, it would be hard to find Australians willingly working on a public holiday, even the republicans among us. What's worse is the myriad of honours handed out on this day connected with the monarch - such an anachronism - even if some people have reinvented their awards as "Australian", awarded by Australians to each other and therefore OK. The whole system is overseen by the Governor-General, the King's representative in Australia, while its structure is approved by the King himself so essentially these awards are imperial with several tiers according to "worthiness" (prominent citizens at the top, community workers and volunteers at the bottom) in line with chivalric honours. WfaAR notes that the ARM co-chairs and Deputy Chair openly publicise their imperial titles.This is not a good look nor does it resonate with ordinary Australians. Time for the medals to be put in the cupboard and locked away. We further note that in interview on Sky News and NITV today, co-chair Craig Foster, claims that many people are conflicted accepting such awards due to their association with the Crown, as he himself had been - but accepted anyway. At least he got that far in his consideration of what the awards represent but further action is required.

Jun 5

Republican Appointed as next Governor of Victoria

Professor Margaret Gardner, Vice-Chancellor of Monash University, is appointed by the Victorian Government as the State's next Governor. Gardner is a republican and declared herself so in the media at the time of the announcement. She claims this is acceptable because the role of Governor has become more ceremonial and not subject to direction by the monarch (interesting, if this were tested given each State's direct constitutional links to the UK). It's puzzling why members of the establishment who are openly proclaimed republicans aspire to these jobs? Surely it would be more acceptable for them to decline the offers even if flattered to receive them. Even more interesting was the fact that the Victorian Premier did not bring this to the attention of our King when recommending Gardner's appointment (see more on this below). Gardner is the latest in an increasingly long line of  known republicans accepting vice-regal appointments following Richard Butler (Tasmania); Kim Beazley (WA) and Quentin Bryce (Qld and Governor-General 2008-2014). WfaAR doesn't know of anyone who has declined such an appointment on the basis on their republicanism - perhaps, it's getting much harder for State Premiers to find suitable non-republicans for the role of Governor? WfaAR also notes that one of ARM's co-chairs, himself an AM, praised Gardner's appointment when there is a more pro-republic angle on such appointments rather than shutting down the argument. ["Republican Margaret Gardner to be king's representative in Victoria as governor" by Benita Kolovos, The Guardian online, 5 June 2023]

More info >

May 9

"Sour Event" - Indigenous View of Coronation

Taylah Gray says that the coronation left a sour taste in her mouth. The Indigenous activist joins others in demanding an apology from King Charles III for the impacts of British colonisation. Ms Gray is a lawyer and member of ARM's Indigenous Advisory Council. She also said "The Crown is a symbol of the lives, lands and resources that have been stripped from First Nations people from across the globe; it represents power and authority but, you know, leadership is not something that should be inherited from your bloodline. Leadership is earned from the people." She calls for a referendum for Australia to become a republic,and believes the country needs its own head of state. It is time to remove the monarchy's "dishonourable systems from Australia.....numerous petitions to the Queen demanding assistance for the ill condition of our people and....there's this deafening silence." Ms Gray believes a referendum "and independence could allow Australia to heal from the effects of colonisation". ["'What good is hope?': Why this young activist wants an apology from King Charles" by Biwa Kwan, SBS News online, 8 May 2023]

More info >

May 8

Royals Should Pay for Visits to Australia

ARM releases survey results from April after the PM formally invites Charles and Camilla to visit Australia while in London for the coronation - hard to know if this is protocol as expected or genuine as they were also invited by the Kiwi PM to visit New Zealand. 78.1 percent thought the royal family should pay while 21.9 percent thought that Australian taxpayers should pay. 82.9 percent of all female respondents wanted the royals to pay for themselves.The surveying company, Pureprofile, conducts online polls and pays self-nominated participants (not random); sample size: 1507.

May 6

Coronation of Australia's New King and Head of State

Eight months after the death of "our Queen" and her reverential, lengthy funeral rites, we finally get to see exactly what the British monarchy, to which Australia is still shackled, represents. Commentaries about slavery, the tyranny of colonialism, the wealth of individual members of the limited-tax paying British royal family abound - all of this was supressed during Elizabeth's reign for reasons that are not entirely clear but the genie is now out of the bottle. And it all looked so quaint: so British (lots of marching soldiers and richly dressed bishops) - and old fashioned. Certainly, the shorter, updated ceremony was still medieval in its essentials and intensely religious. There were crowns with dazzling but plundered jewels, golden carriages, newly composed music plus a ban on tiaras and the glamorous frocks were hidden under formal robes of state. This was laudable but what looked good on the youthful Queen in 1953, looked positively comical on an ageing monarch lacking glamour in 2023. There have just been too many political cartoons in the interegnum. The official photographs showed us Australia's next three male kings - Charles 74, William 41 and George 9 dressed up in historical costumes - unless we do something about it. There was nothing of modern Australia to be seen in the ceremony even if Matildas captain, Sam Kerr, carried the flag into Westminster Abbey. The media went for sensation over oaths of allegiance and the like but, really, we didn't need to look further than see our Head of State being anointed wth holy oil (vegan, made from olives in Jerusalem) as Supreme Governor of the Church of England - doesn't sit well in our secular country. "Celebrations" at home were appropriately muted and limited to a few light shows in royal purple and a 21 gun salute on the forecourt of Parliament House in Canberra. Most people weren't greatly interested and switched off or preferred to watch the football in prime time on a Saturday night. One striking corollary was that with all the State Governors and the Governor-General in London for the ceremony, a former Governor-General had to be specially drafted in - approved by the King himself - to carry out official functions, give royal assent to laws and sign appointments in the G-G's absence for two weeks. We really are tied to the British and in so many ways. WfaAR couldn't help noticing the large number of times that the British commentators referred to "the Commonwealth" in deferential tones as if it was an institution that inflated the UK's importance. Apart from the Commonwealth Games, Australians don't even think about it nor does it have any relevance to our opinion of ourselves or to our nationalism or about our country.

May 5

Millions of Voices Pledging Allegiance is Undemocratic

Helen Irving believes it is undemocratic to swear allegiance to King Charles at his coronation. In the modern style of congregation participation, all those attending the coronation will swear an oath to the newly crowned King (instead of this being done by Dukes) and the worldwide TV audience is being encouraged to join in. Irving says, "Rituals like the proposed oath are not intended to be neutral in their effect. They are meant to be powerful, to stir collective emotion, to associate an idea of national identity with the office of that person. We should be affirming our [own] democracy, celebrating our democratic system, not going along with rituals that symbolise the opposite." The PM's responses to questions about his intention revealed little deep thought or consideration of his position and his population decidedly republican in their inclinations. Irving concluded with, "Whatever way you look at it, the proposed "chorus of millions of voices" is undemocratic, historically troubling, potentially divisive and - at the very least - likely to be unachievable."  WfaAR: as it turned out, nothing of the congregation's utterances could be heard from the Abbey so it all fell rather flat - there were no close-ups of guests either so what our PM did at the time remains unknown. Read the full article below.

More info >

May 4

Why are Well Known Aussies Willing King's Subjects?

Jenna Price in The Canberra Times takes up the subject of the controversial oath of allegiance. She highlighted what happened when "narrowcaster" Piers Morgan interviewed our PM in London and asked if he would swear allegiance to the King, Albanese replied he would do: "what is entirely appropriate as the representative of Australia" and sounded just like a politician. No one asked what the Governor-General would do but some of his allegiances are elsewhere of course. Price goes on to say, "Even an indirect yes means yes, in this case. Of course the PM is going to swear allegiance because he is the Prime Minister of a country which has the King as its monarch (and head of state). You might not like that but that's the way it is. We voted on a republic (in 1999) and we said NO". She thought the two main organisations on each side of the debate were "behaving like whack jobs. ARM implore the PM to stay silent while the monarchists claim he is blocking Australians going fully royal". After all this, how does Price feel about the republic? "Very, very good" but she will still be watching royal events and loves a party. She thought ARM did one good thing in the lead-up to the coronation and that was demand a formal apology from the newly crowned King, reparations and repatriation of artefacts and remains in conjunction with representatives of 11 other Commonwealth countries still having the British monarch as head of state. She likes her public holidays but says, "it feels wrong to be swearing allegiance to a bloke who has no idea what it's like to be Australian or to understand our daily lives" but adds, "now is not the time to abandon the British monarchy because we have other pressing things to press on with". ["Why are Anthony Albanese, Nick Cave, Sam Kerr all willing to be King Charles III's Subjects?" by Jenna Price, The Canberra Times online, 5 May 2023]

May 3

Coronation Take From Left Field

The Australian Government was able to invite 14 official guests to the Coronation, a long way short of the 250 that attended the 1953 version. Most were well known expats living or currently working in the UK including Matildas captain Sam Kerr; comedian Adam Hills,  activist and Oxford student Yasmin Poole and medical researchers. Unconventional songwriter and musician, Nick Cave (now 65), had the quirkiest take of all. After being criticised for accepting his invitation, Cave published a lengthy reasoning for his attendance. He described it as "the most important event in the UK of our age, not just the most important but the strangest and weirdest"...he described meeting the Queen - in a salmon twinset - as almost "extra-terrestrial" and her as "the most charismatic woman I've ever met".....he had wept as her coffin, stripped of its royal insignia, descended into the vault at her funeral. He wrote he had "an inexplicable attraction to the royals - the strangeness of them, the deeply eccentric nature of the whole affair that so perfectly reflects the unique weirdness of Britain itself". Reflecting on the event, several weeks later, Cave said he felt conflicted emotions during the service: extremely bored...awestruck... amused...angered and extremely moved by the music! WfaAR: And there you have it. 

May 1

Female Republican's Angle on the Coronation

Marina Go writing about the forthcoming coronation ceremony says "King Charles is our nation's highest office bearer and because he's also Britain's head of state, he does not - and will never - put our nation first." This she says is a conflict of interest that no governance structure would tolerate. And she goes on to make the links with business from the people as stakeholders of our nation: "For directors and officers to fulfil their fiduciary duty, we must be able to put our organisation first". Charles is inherently conflicted and, unless we become a republic, every family member that succeeds him as our Head of State will be similarly conflicted plus "The symbolism of the coronation should be the very jolt we need to put an end to a relationship with the Crown that is way past its use-by-date." She makes an unusual case for the republic based on the role of the business community spending much of the last decade helping the nation to move rapidly forward (ed: in the absence of Government?) - think marriage equality, removal of harrassment from the workplace, reconciliation plans and embracing the Uluru Statement. By implication, the Republic should be next cab off the rank. She concludes by saying, "Australia, increasingly multi-cultural, is moving swiftly towards true independence, sweeping aside the last vestiges of colonialism as we move closer to a Voice to Parliament." Click on the link below to read the full piece. ["The Coronation of King Charles and why it's time to embrace an Australian Republic" by Marina Go, Women's Agenda online, 1 May 2023] Marina Go is an elected member of ARM's National Council who seems to have banished her 'not anti-monarchy' credentials in this article (See News Item of 25 October 2022). She was a founding publisher of Women's Agenda, a site for women's news including politics and sport, has 25 years experience in the media industry and has been a non-executive director of boards including Transurban, Energy Australia and Netball Australia plus Chair of Wests Tigers NRL Club and Ovarian Cancer Australia.

More info >

Mar 23

Next Referendum In View - it's really happening!

Momentous day for federal constitutional change in Australia as the Prime Minister announces the draft question to be put to referendum later this year to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and enshrine their Voice to Parliament in the Constitution. It's 24 years since this has happened, all the way back to the first republic referendum in 1999. The single question of principle is yet to be debated in draft legislation to pass through the federal parliament by June following reference to a parliamentary committee for an inquiry lasting six weeks. The Constitutional Alteraration bill is due to be tabled in the House of Representatives on 30 March. The precise form of The Voice and its operations will be decided by federal Parliament after the referendum vote. An exciting and inspiring day as this also takes us one step closer to the Republic referendum expected by 2028 if the current Government is returned for a second term. For full dertails of the recognition question and the actual changes it will make the Constitution, click on the link. ["We now know exactly what question the Voice referendum will ask Australians. A constitutional law expert explains" by Professor Anne Twomey, The Conversation online, 24 March 2023]

More info >

Mar 22

Referendum Machinery Act - Immediate Campaign Priority for Republicans

The amended Referendum Machinery (Provisions) Act 1984 passes the Senate after two weeks of intense - and probably somewhat brutal - negotiations following initial tabling in the House of Representatives on 1 December 2022 and a short inquiry by the Joint Select Committee on Electoral Matters. The inquiry attracted 78 submissions about half of which dealt with the provisions of the Act and suggested a wide range of improvements. In the end, the Government did a deal with the Opposition which had voted against the bill in the House to secure their support: Stage 1 of getting bipartisan unity on YES to the actual referendum question.

To about 40 pages of consequential amendments arising from changes to electoral laws since 1999, eg allowing pre-poll and postal voting, were added a large number of amendments in the Senate including those tabled by the Government reflecting agreements with the Opposition: principally reinstatement of the section providing for a YES/NO case pamphlet written by politicians as well as making provision to spend $9.5m on a neutral education campaign and adding a 72 hour media blackout (does not apply to social media). A large number of highly desirable amendments proposed by the Senate crossbench to enable maximum participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, on the day enrolment and more controls over donations including monitoring in real time were rejected because, with the Coalition's support, the Government did not need to deal with the crossbench to pass the bill.

Still the Act is crying out for further improvement. There just has to be a better way to replace the contentious pamphlet with the provision of neutral, vetted information for all voters (it is be scrutinised by a new parliamentary committee this time but that's hardly reassuring). It is also clear that the Government made problems for itself by not revealing all of its plans at the time of initial tabling particularly in relation to the pamphlet, funding and the civics program so preparation was sloppy or just poor political judgement. A total rethink of the conduct of referendums must be an immediate priority for republic campaigners and the Act redrafted for fairness, maximum participation and modernised in readiness for the next one. The article below contains some further commentary on the outcome of the bills passing and the desirability of making further changes outside the heat of an impending referendum campaign. ["The referendum rules have been decided. What does this mean for the Voice?" by Dr Paul Kildea, The Conversation online, 24 March 2023]

More info >

Mar 21

Female Co-Chair for ARM

 ARM announces that Nova Peris, well known athlete, former Senator for the NT and Indigenous campaigner has been chosen as its first female co-chair, a new position created last week when ARM's constitution was changed. Two of the three top office holders at ARM are now women. The new Deputy Chair is Meredith Doig who is in her second term on ARM's National Council until late 2024.  This is long overdue change initiated by recently elected ARM chair, Craig Foster (who is now also a co-chair) with the vast majority of the 200 members attending the meeting voting in favour and will materially assist ARM to get its message through to women voters.

Mar 6

ARM Indigenous Advisory Council

ARM announces the appointment of an Indigenous Advisory Council to ensure the views of First Nations people are heard at the highest levels of the organisation's decision making. Three of the six appointees are women: Michelle Deshong (Kuk Yulanji); Cissy Gore-Birch (Jaru/Kija) and Taylah Gray (Wiradjuri) along with Nyunggai Warren Mundine; Joe Williams and Rodney Dillon. The role of the Council is to advise the National Committee and ARM movement (sic) on First Nations perspectives. Its first tasks are to consider how ARM should recognise First Nations traditional ownership; how First Nations peoples and communities view the ARM movement (sic) and a republic and the ARM's position in relation to the Uluru Statement and its first component, the Voice to Parliament. Co-chair of ARM, Nova Peris will convene and chair the Council. WfaAR comment: good to see the gender balance in these appointments.

Feb 8

National Identity in Focus at Venice Biennale

Indigenous artist Archie Moore (Kamilaroi/Bigambul) will represent Australia at this years Venice Biennale. He uses smell to evoke memory of his family, nation and ancestors and explores racism and national identity through flags. This article from The Guardian shows some of his works and reveals the history of Indigenous artists representing us at this event. ["Archie Moore becomes second solo artist to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale" by Sian Cain and Kelly Burke, The Guardian online, 8 February 2023] 

More info >

Feb 7

Royal Exits, Secrets and the Republic

Three Australian historians including Ann Curthoys and Lyndall Ryan survey the events of recent months including Harry and Meghan's exit from the British royal family, the publication of Harry's tell-all "Spare". On Netflix and in print, they conclude that their story has been informed by history and this has implications for Australia and our attitude to a Republic as determined by the popular media. They found the Netflix series, Harry and Meghan to be guided by reputable historians covering topics such as slavery and colonialism while "Spare" they describe as "a great autobiography, a j'accuse that accumulates damning details to intensifying, almost unbearable, effect until Harry and Meghan escape. And the detail is heightened by the historical thread that links Harry with his mother Diana in his rebelliousness, his charitable works and his relationship with 'the other'". ["Harry, Meghan and the Republic" by Ann Curthoys, John Docker and Lyndall Ryan, Inside Story online, 7 February 2023] WfaAR note: Barbados became a republic late in 2021, not 2022 as stated in this article.

More info >

Feb 1

New Perspectives in Government Communications

Foreign Minister Penny Wong calls on Britain to confront its colonial past in the Indo-Pacific in a speech in London as the UK pushes ahead with a tilt towards our region. Senator Wong highlights the deep link between Australia and Britain but added, "As the nature of our nations, our regions and our world has changed, so too has the character of our relationship. Today, as a modern, multicultural country - home to people of more than 300 ancestries and the oldest continuing culture on Earth - Australia sees itself as being in the Indo-Pacific and being of the Indo-Pacific".  She said that understanding of the past " brought with it the opportunity to find more common ground than if we stayed sheltered in narrower versions of our countries' histories". There is now a distinct change in Australia's official rhetoric after the change of government in 2022 and that helps to reset the nation's perception of itself and its ever-changing national identity ahead of further change to come. This bodes well for both the Voice to Parliament and the Republic. Naturally, this perspective was strongly criticised by the federal Opposition. ['Penny Wong has urged Britain to confront its colonial past in landmark speech" report by AAP, SBS News online, 1 February 2023]

Jan 30

Reviving the Arts Sector

The federal Government launches Revive, a five-year plan to renew and revive the arts sector, allocating $286m over four years. In his foreword, the Prime Minister refers to "the vital role of the arts in developing national identity, social unity and economic success". The introduction was written by well-known republican, historian Professor Clare Wright and novelist Christos Tsoilkas. They include this statement in their text, "A key role of art and culture is to create forms and works that challenge us and sometimes frighten us". The policy, the first for 10 years, puts First Nations communities at the heart of the nation's cultural road map through preservation of culture, languages, traditional knowledge and protection of authenticity. First Nations art is the first pillar of the strategy. WfaAR comment: the arts also play an important role in reflecting the shortcomings of our society and our nation, in truthtelling and in leading the way on political analysis and commentary. Let's hope some of the new $286m goes in that direction. We also look forward to the appointment of the first national Poet Laureate in 2025. For full details of the new policy, click on the link below. ["Arts are meant to be at the Heart of our Life, what the new national cultural policy could mean for Australia -  if it all comes together", by Associate Professor Jo Caust, University of Melbourne, The Conversation online, 30 January 2023] 

More info >

Jan 23

Why It's Time for a Blak Republic

Senator Lidia Thorpe gives an interview to Junkee on her beliefs about the future of Australia and a Republic, a Blak Republic. She says, "A Blak Republic is about self-determination....It's about First Nations' people in this country deciding our own destiny and being part of our own destiny...A Blak Republic would ensure that everybody in this country is looked after.....Through a treaty, we could have a republic....It's time to move away from the colonial project. I think the royals would be quite happy for us to cut ties and even have a treaty". This is an interesting and thought provoking read  that requires consideration. The full recording and transcript can be accessed by clicking the link below; [Why it's Time for a Blak Republic" by Merryana Salem, Junkee online, 23 January 2023, recorded 22 December 2022]

More info >

Jan 19

Royals Excel at Hiding Information to Avoid Accountability

Since the "sensational" revelations made by Prince Harry in "Spare", more details are coming out about how the Windsors protect their interests, particularly their land and financial investments, but also how they go to extreme lengths to keep their business secret from taxpayers and inquiring academics and journalists. Only certain, favoured researchers and commentators are ever granted access to the Royal Archive at Windsor where people are closely supervised as Julia Baird told us. This applies not only to the UK but also to Australia and, no doubt, to the recorded relationships between the British monarch and all of their 13 other realms. Our Governor-General's records are transported to the Royal Archive where they remain under lock and key. FOI legislation does not apply to the Windsors in the UK or Australia. The author of this article, Jemimah Steinfeld, Editor in Chief of Index of Censorshiprefers to Jenny Hocking's successful but lengthy campaign right up to the High Court for access to copies of correspondence between Governor-General John Kerr and the Palace held in the Australian Archives but WfaAR does not agree that the documents - around 200 pages - now released reveal any role played by the Queen in the dismissal of the Whitlam Government contrary to what is stated here - as Anne Twomey said at the time in 2020, there was no smoking gun implicating the Queen directly in actions taken by the Governor-General in 1975.

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Jan 18

Jamaica on the Move

This article by Barbara Blake-Hannah, an anti-racism activist and former British TV presenter, is delightfully upbeat. What a contrast it is to the feeling about the progressing of the Australian Republic as Australia Day, with all its unresolved conflicts, rolls around once again. Jamaica has announced intentions to become a republic for years but has never had the momentum to follow through (requires a referendum). But the death of their Queen and Head of State, Elizabeth; William and Kate's disastrous tour to the Caribbean earlier in the year and envy of their small neighbour Barbados, which beat them to it in late 2021, has kick-started the move towards a republic in Jamaica pushed along by an energetic and receptive Prime Minister. It is feel-good fodder for Australian republicans.

She also reports, "The Jamaican government has created a new ministry with a specific mandate to lead Jamaica along the steps to becoming a republic - and promises that it can be accomplished within a year. When the monarch is replaced as head of state, it looks likely from current discussions that a president will be appointed by the prime minister in consultation with the leader of the opposition and confirmed by a two-thirds majority of both houses of parliament with a six-year term of office, limited to two terms."

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Jan 14

"Spare" Triggers Fashionable Support for Republic

The editor of Marie-Claire Australia, Nicky Briger was compelled by "Spare" to advocate support for the Australian Republic at a very personal level. The book is QED, it's enough, we've had enough of "them" and the republic is long overdue, she says. You can read her article below on the link. Importantly, this magazine is targeted at women which shows that celebrity is handy for the republic campaign and can capture a hard to classify and hard to reach, but majority, segment of the population. ["Prince Harry's 'Spare' Proves It's Time to Become a Republic" by Nicky Briger, Marie-Claire Australia online, 13 January 2023]

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Jan 13

What "Spare" means for the Australian Republic

Professor Jenny Hocking, political historian and former elected member of ARM National Council, describes the southern hemisphere impact of the publication of Prince Harry's "Spare". She writes, "This now openly feuding family provides our head of state, imposed on us and 14 other Commonwealth nations by a dynastic succession and inherited title alone, in which we have no say and no relevance. It inevitably reignites questions about why Australia is still a constitutional monarchy....It is a national humiliation to accept an imposed head of state from among this thoroughly unpleasant, cosseted, entitled family. An Australian republic is long overdue." In conclusion, she assesses that the British royals reluctance to embrace Meghan Markle was an opportunity lost and that the monarchy may rue the day it failed to "recognise a rare opportunity for it to evolve, to embrace the contemporary reality of the post-imperial Commonwealth, even to genuinely modernise other than changing a few lines in the coronation ceremony, and by doing so survive. She concludes, "This unedifying display of royal family discord will only hasten Australia's move towards a republic with our own choice of head of state, no longer determined by the dynastic succession of the British monarch. Surely one of us can be better than one of them". Her commentary was referenced in several other pieces published in the weeks following. Read Jenny's article on the link below. ["When family and firm collide; escaping a royal horror story" by Jenny Hocking, Pearls and Irritations online, 13 January 2023]

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Jan 5

"Spare" Arrives with A Bang

Prince Harry's ghosted memoir hits the book stores creating substantial public interest and media publicity. It is an arresting read. His biographer has done an outstanding job to capture the role of and restrictions applied to a spare Australian Head of State. While the analytical pieces in the UK appeared almost straightaway in the media, here the publication was treated as a celebrity expose with sensational press reporting of selected incidents and excerpts. It took some time for reflective pieces to appear appreciating the ultimate impact of the book. To WfaAR, it appeared that while Charles himself, followed by Diana and later by Andrew had given the foundations of the House of Windsor a good shake, Harry had arrived with a D8 bulldozer intent on serious undermining. This can definitely damage the reputation of the British royals in Australia (our royal family too) that no pomp and circumstance, affection for the new monarch and the like can repair. It is worth pointing out, though, that Harry is not anti-monarchy as was neither his mother before him. That is not an objective of "Spare". What the book reveals is a conflicted, rigid, old-fashioned family and the fraught, destructive but deliberate relationships that exist between the royals, their courtiers and the British media.

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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