Jan 1

2003 news archive

  • mid December 2003: new Labor leader, Mark Latham, announces that he will put the republic back on the political agenda if Labor wins office in 2004. Two non-binding votes and a referendum are proposed in the first three-year term realising the republic by 2007.
  • 18 November: The NSW Women's Forum of the Australian Republican Movement presents "Women and the Republic", a lunch and panel discussion hosted by Lisa Forrest, author, broadcaster and Olympian. Speakers were Marise Payne (NSW Liberal Senator and National Committee member) whose theme was that it was no longer appropriate to have a British monarch as head of state and discriminatory that only a very small number of people were qualified to become the British monarch; Anne Henderson (Deputy Director of the Sydney Institute and ARM Deputy Chair) who wanted her grandchildren to be able to become head of state; Anna York (NSW President of the National Union of Students) stating that the views of young people on the republic should to be taken seriously and Sarah Maddison (national media spokesperson for WEL and lecturer in Australian Politics at the University of Sydney) who argued that the republic is not a women's issue but that women want a say and to participate in this important national political debate.
  • 30 September: The Senate Inquiry into the Republic has not yet called for public submissions. An issues paper is being developed to facilitate submissions. For further details check the website at www.aph.gov.au/senate_legal . Public hearings will take place early next year. In the meantime, letters of support for the inquiry can be sent to Committee members: Senators Nick Bolkus, Marise Payne, Linda Kirk, Natasha Stott Despoja, Ursula Stephens and Nick Scullion. Email to: senator.last
  • 19 August: A wide-ranging interview on the republic and how it will benefit women is given by Women for An Australian Republic's Sarah Brasch, for broadcast on national community radio. The discussion touches on the large number of issues which have arisen this year about the republic and how Australia's head of state is chosen. Also covered were the appointment of prominent republic supporter, Richard Butler, as Governor of Tasmania, the controversial content of speeches made by the new Governor-General and the increasingly presidential role played by the current Prime Minister.
  • 24 July: At the Jessie Street National Women's Library in Sydney, University of Wollongong academic, Jane Innes, argues that by most criteria Australia is already a republic and poses the question: how and when will we manage to transcend the last fragment of our colonial past? Her paper features interviews with five prominent academics, lawyers and leaders of the labour movement - including Professor Elaine Thompson of the University of New South Wales - talking about the reasons for the loss of the 1999 referendum and how the community currently views the republic. Click here to read her paper.
  • 21 July: Allison Henry of Sydney is appointed the National Director of the Australian Republican Movement, the first woman to hold the post. Allison's background is in law and international relations. She has mostly recently been the Convenor of ARM in New South Wales after having been involved with the ARM since 1995. Allison states that her priority is "to continue to rebuild the ARM so that the organisation is ready for a plebiscite regarding Australia's Head of State" and she is expected to work closely in building grassroots support for the republic.
  • 18 July - Terms of reference for the Senate Inquiry into the Republic are announced. Please note that the Committee has not yet called for public submissions - further updates will be provided on this website as they come to hand.
  • 9 July: The Australian Labor Party will conduct a postal ballot in October to elect its next president and two vice-presidents. The ALP has 45,000 members nationally who can participate in the first election for senior office holders (reported by Mike Steketee in The Australian).
  • 4 July: Dr Pat O'Shane describes the Australian constitution as "flawed and grossly inappropriate".  She said that our system of government is not defined and that this is useful to politicians who manipulate people by keeping them ignorant about the constitution. She also said that "the way the constitution came into being was a denial of democracy" and went on to question whether Australia actually is a democracy (reported on ABC News Online www.abc.net.au ). Pat O'Shane is a magistrate in New South Wales, the chancellor of the University of New England, an indigenous activist and feminist and was a leader in the Yes and More campaign before the 1999 referendum.
  • 17 June: The Australian Democrats (spokesperson on the republic: Senator Natasha Stott Despoja) and the Australian Labor Party announce they will establish a Senate Inquiry to examine the best way for Australia to become a republic. The Inquiry will seek community feedback and give people the opportunity to put forward their preferred model for the republic. Read the full text of the media release here.
  • 8 June: The Australian Republican Movement launches six versions of a preamble to a republican constitution by Australian authors - three are by women: Delia Falconer, Dorothy Porter and Leah Purcell. Not one of the six affirms and states "the equality of women and men" which WfaAR believes is a serious omission although each of texts is commendable either for its poetry and imagination or for the beauty of its expression and evocation. (Other preambles were created by novelists: James Bradley, Peter Carey and Richard Flanagan).
  • 27 May: The Sydney Morning Herald interviews 50 "prominent" people, 14 of whom are women (click here), and asks them how the Governor-General should be chosen and their choice for the job. Women nominated were Lowitja O'Donoghue (former chair of ATSIC); Mary Gaudron (recently retired High Court judge); Dawn Fraser (former Olympic champion swimmer); Marie Bashir (Governor of NSW); Elizabeth Evatt (former chief judge of the Family Court and UN adviser); Professor Fiona Stanley (child health researcher and social commentator from WA, Australian of the Year 2003); Jocelyn Newman (former Minister in the current federal government). Poet, Les Murray, comments that he "wouldn't wish the job on anyone."
  • 26 May: Speculation starts about who will be appointed the next Governor-General and how the Prime Minister should go about deciding who is to fill the job by using a broader selection and vetting process involving consultation with other people. There were calls for a woman to be appointed to the job to aid national healing after the Hollingworth appointment. However, there not many suggestions in the national media about who a suitable female Governor-General might be. Most of the names were recycled from the lead-up to the 2001 appointment of Dr Hollingworth including Jocelyn Newman, Lowitja O'Donoghue, Margaret Jackson and Fiona Stanley. The only known criterion applied by the Prime Minister is that the appointee should be a supporter of the monarchy, which narrows the field.

    WfaAR considers that it is inappropriate to automatically turn to women to fill high public office when there is a crisis or if the position is undesirable and/or tainted. Women should be appointed to such jobs without qualification and in any circumstances. WfaAR notes that male appointee, Sir Zelman Cowen, was well able to carry out the role of rebuilding the office of Governor-General after the controversy surrounding his predecessor, Sir John Kerr, and the divisiveness that followed in the 1970s.

  • 25 May: Governor-General resigns.
  • 21 May: Northern Territory Chief Minister, Clare Martin, announces another referendum on statehood. This will be preceded by a constitutional convention to which, this time, all delegates will be elected.
  • 21 May: Dame Edna Everage, confidante of Queen Elizabeth and republican, proposes herself as the best person to take over as Governor-General (reported in Maxine McKew's weekly column in The Bulletin).
  • 17 May: With the Governor-General having stepped aside to fight a charge of rape against him (subsequently dropped) and considering legal action to clear his name resulting from the adverse findings of an Anglican Church inquiry into the handling of child sex abuse cases while he was Archbishop of Brisbane, women saw the irony of the situation as reflected in two letters to The Canberra Times: one demanded decisive action by the Prime Minister and improved selection processes for the job; the other equated "overcrowding" at the vice-regal residence at Yarralumla with a reality TV program where the viewers vote on which person to evict from a house. Read their letters here.
  • May 2003: The Governor General is embroiled in further controversy about his actions as a former archbishop of the Anglican church (see News Update of 28 February 2002 below). This again highlights issues around the method of appointing the Queen’s representative in Australia (appointed solely on the recommendation of the Prime Minister). With renewed calls for Dr Hollingworth’s resignation, public comment has focussed on the need for the office of Governor-General to remain clear of uncertainty about the occupant and for the job to be more accountable to the Australian people.
  • 1 May 2003: The Victorian Government announces that it will advertise the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for the first time – previously, chief justices were appointed on the advice of the retiring incumbent to the Government of the day.
  • April  2003: Dr Helen Irving, author, lecturer in law at the University of Sydney and who has written extensively on the constitutional aspects of an Australian republic, is named by the Republican Clubs of Australia as Republican of the Year.
  • March 2003: Quentin Bryce, feminist lawyer, former Sex Discrimination Commissioner and monarchist, was announced as the next Governor (Queen’s representative) of Queensland. Debate about the appointment took place in the Queensland parliament  -  a first - after the appointment was confirmed by the Queen.
Quick Info

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

more info >

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

Self portrait 1855, Newcastle Region Art Gallery NSW

more info >

Senate Inquiry

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

more info >