Thank you for inviting Women for an Australian Republic to address the Committee today. We are so pleased to be here and to boost the number of women appearing before the Committee . This is a very important Inquiry for the Republic and republicans.
Women for an Australian Republic is based in Canberra and exists on online operating both nationally and internationally. Our website is where its all at. Since 1999, we have provided a place for womens writing, speeches, commentaries and articles on all aspects of the Republic. We are still collecting, regularly updating and publishing - our website is archived once a year in the PANDORA online repository at the National Library.
Our approach to the Republic is both political because we believe in the art of the possible but also managerial because it is about finding solutions to hard problems, working out ways to implement change, communicating and being efficient.
As far as the process leading to the Republic is concerned, we would prefer there to be a single referendum. However, we realise that this would be impractical after the experiences of many voters in 1999. So, we support as many plebiscites and Constitutional Conventions as it is going to take allowing always, of course, for maximum participation by women.
We fully support Australia becoming a Republic with a new constitution which recognises the equality of women and men and also our Indigenous peoples. The process must allow women to fully participate in the debates, to be fully represented in decision-making forums and to have the same opportunity as men to become head of state.
We are not locked into supporting one model for selecting the head of state. However, at present, we do think that direct election has the greatest chance of success - of course, that choice should be made by the people.
We have put forward practical and simple proposals to advance the Republic and propose solutions to things that seem to be such huge sticking points: such as our suggestion that voting for the head of state in a direct election model be voluntary.
For the first plebiscite: we favour modified Corowa A with significant wording changes (as set out in our response to Question 30 of the Discussion Paper):
We remain very enthusiastic about the coming Republic and will work to ensure that it gets up next time and we are very encouraged that it might be high on the political agenda if there is a change of government at the next election.
Women are ready to vote for the Republic if the proposal is simple, attractive, innovative, if they can participate in it ..and its safe. That is readily achieveable in our opinion.
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Last modified: 04 September, 2004