Jan 1

2006 news archive

  • 26 December: The British film "The Queen" opens throughout Australian cinemas. Directed by Stephen Frears, who says he is a dedicated queenist - not a monarchist - and starring Helen Mirren, the film has enjoyed modest success, way behind the remake of Casino Royale. The jury is out about whether it helps or hinders the Australian republican cause. All we can say is that the main character, particularly when foregrounding a massive horned stag in the grounds of Balmoral, appears quintessentially English and completely removed from the land of droughts and flooding rains.
  • 7 December: Another update on the Government's response to "The road to a republic" is tabled in the Senate. This time the annotation is: "the Government's response is being considered and will be tabled in due course" following the 22 June notice: "The response will be tabled in due course". Six monthly updates on outstanding reports are tabled in the Senate at the end of sessions. WfaAR notes that the the three month target for the Government's response (February 2005) has now been well exceeded.
  • 29 November: Dr Rebecca Huntley gives the 2006 National Republican Lecture in Canberra. Her talk: "Trust Matters: Politics, Trust and the Republican Cause" discusses the reasons why young people are not interested in the Republic and their apathy about politics in general. Her suggestion is to focus on local politics engaging community and non-government organisations such as church and school groups, environmental and sporting organisations. She concludes by saying that the direct election model is undoubtedly a better fit for a generation enthusiastic about direct democracy. Read Rebecca's talk here
  • 24 November: ARM announces its new National Council for the next two years. Three of the nine elected members are women: Jaci Barker, Louisa Graham and Lynne Minion who join the four female State convenors on Council: Julie Armstrong (WA); Shannon Schedlich-Day (SA), Lisa Singh (Tas) and Annie Tennant (NSW), making a total of seven women out of 16 on National Council. Louisa Graham from Sydney was later elected Junior Deputy Chair.
  • 23 November: A reply is received from the Prime Minister's Office to our letter of 2 October (see below) telling us that "...the Government has no current intention to propose constitutional change on the republic in the future". It also says that the Government intends to respond to the 2004 Senate Committee report "The road to a republic" in due course.
  • 4-5 November: National Convenor, Sarah Brasch, attended the third Republican Gathering held in Brisbane. Together with Judith Brooks from Victoria, Sarah presented a session on women and the development of the Republic in which it was argued that alternating women and men for head of state, set out in the Constitution so that it cannot be easily removed, would demonstrate a true commitment to equality in the new Republic. Sarah also spoke about her vision for The 2015 Republic, using the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli to create a model for a fair, just and protective Republic promising a new start for a united and inclusive Australian democracy (as opposed to a model just for selecting the head of state). Other sessions at the Gathering covered national days of celebration and symbols with a big emphasis on wattle; engaging people living in regional and rural areas as well as young people in the Republic; getting the States to become more republican and convincing politicians to promote the cause, especially those on the conservative side.
  • 2 October 2006: Women for an Australian Republic writes to the Prime Minister to enquire about the progress made to date in preparing the Government's response to the 2004 Senate Inquiry report: "The road to a republic" and when it will be tabled in Parliament.
  • 18 June 2006: The ABC concludes a two-part British documentary on the Queen in her 80th year. Republican supporters could observe that not only is the Queen very active as the United Kingdom's Head of State but that her actions primarily take place in the UK or are focussed on representing the UK's interests overseas. She is visible and prominent in the lives of her subjects in the UK and in a way that neither she nor her Australian representative, resident in Westbourne Woods in Canberra, are for her subjects in Australia. Before her March 2006 four-day visit to Australia, the Queen invited a large group of Australians (living in England) to attend a reception at Buckingham Palace so that she could get to know some Aussies!
  • 8 June 2006: Former Governor-General, Sir Zelman Cowen says that he would reluctantly support direct election if it helped Australia to break its outdated ties with the British monarchy which he describes as "incompatible with our independent status". This is a change from his previous support for parliamentary selection of the Head of State. Sir Zelman also says in his memoirs that there needs to be "public education to promote understanding and discussion of the question: what kind of republic do we want?" (reported in The Australian). WfaAR is encouraged that this view is increasingly being raised in public discussion about the Australian Republic.
  • 1-2 April 2006: WfaAR representatives attend the second Republic Gathering in Canberra. We made the point that republicans should not be taken in by pronouncements from politicians saying that the Republic is out of the question until the Queen dies. WfaAR also spoke on these topics: Reconciliation and the Republic; the Republic and National Identity and about where the debate on models for Head of State is heading. On the relevance of the Republic for our Indigenous Peoples, we noted how similar the objectives of others are to those of women pursuing a Republic, that is: a republican constitution offering a new start and the involvement of all citizens in its development. On whether the Republic can define our national identity, we consider that it can't - rather it's the other way round: when we can work out what our national identity is, that should lead us naturally to want a republican form of government. And on the debate about models for head of state, we likened it to men endlessly tinkering with their car engines, all claiming that theirs is the best. WfaAR thinks that the essential issue for the republic debate is what an Australian Republic will be like, not how we select our head of state.
  • 21 March 2006: Phyllida Ives of Torrens ACT joins in the renewed attention to the republic during the Games. She writes to The Canberra Times commenting on the Prime Minister's observation in an interview with the BBC that Australia would become a republic when Queen Elizabeth II is gone. She says that John Howard " could have been the PM who brought Australia into the 21st century with a rewritten constitution (albeit a republic)" but now that task will be done by one of his successors.
  • 15 March 2006: The republican debate lit up with the Queen of Australia's visit, in her role as head of the Commonwealth, for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Which country was she was barracking for? Controversy erupted over the playing of the Australian national anthem at the opening ceremony. Senior Liberal Minister and republican, Senator Amanda Vanstone, said rightly that God Save the Queen should be played. God Save the Queen is Australia's royal anthem played whenever the Queen of Australia is present. Australians should listen to it often and dwell on its words: "send her victorious" and "long to reign over us" when forming an opinion about the republic.
  • 14 March and 17 March 2006: Two Australian women speak practically about the campaign for the republic. Anne Henderson, Deputy Chair of the Australian Republican Movement writes under the headline "Royals welcome as guests, not masters" in The Australian while Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja, who is also a member of ARM National Council, concludes in The Canberra Times that "A Republic will only come from hard work".
  • 14 March 2006: An unexpected observation by a woman about the desirability of an Australian Republic? The Queen makes a short speech at a formal dinner in the Great Hall of Parliament House in Canberra in which she describes Australia as "a great country" and "a key global player in the twenty-first century, a voice of wisdom and honesty, a tough and dependable operator" which is widely interpreted - more in Britain than in Australia - that it is time for "constitutional change", with the subtext: that it is time to become a republic. The speech is made from the perspective of an outside observer. Reactions to the content vary but some Australian commentators find it patronising.
  • 7 March 2006: The New South Wales Parliament passes legislation amending the NSW Constitution requiring new members to take a pledge of loyalty to the State and to Australia rather than to the Queen.
  • 30 January 2006: Barbara McGarity of NSW suggests that for the Queen's 80th birthday, the Prime Minister should ask her to relinquish her role as Queen of Australia. Read her unpublished letter to The Australian here
  • 26 January 2006: Elaine Thompson writes a feature article in The Sydney Morning Herald saying of course, it's time to become a republic because of its symbolic significance. She correctly pinpoints an overhaul of the whole constitution as essential to the development of the republic and calls for regular constitutional conventions. Elaine was formerly an academic at the University of New South Wales. Read an extract of her article.
  • 25 January 2006: The Prime Minister calls for better teaching of Australian history in schools. WfaAR agrees. It should include our proud - and extensive - republican history since 1788.
  • 23 January 2006: Lorna Denham of Cardiff Heights NSW writes to The Sydney Morning Herald: "The republicans must have paid a monachist to invent their new truly awful slogan 'A Mate for Head of State'. Barbara McGarity of Turramurra NSW complains online 'I don't know what sort of fools are currently active in the republican movement but they think they can revitalise their campaign by calling it 'Mate for Head of State'. This will antagonise many women." Next Barbara wrote a letter to The Editor to underline her point, read her letter and online contributions here. A male correspondent to the SMH said that if the head of state is a mate, and if he has a supply of free tickets to the footy and cricket, could he please pass them on to him and his other mates? WfaAR thinks this hit the nail right on the head and couldn't put it better.
  • 21 January 2006: The latest Newspoll on the Republic is published in The Australian. 43 percent of women were strongly or partly in favour of Australian becoming a Republic, 20 percent uncommitted compared with 49 percent of men, 19 percent uncommitted. When Charles and Camilla were factored in, support increased. 50 percent of women were in favour compared with 55 percent of men; 19 percent and 18 percent respectively uncommitted. The poll was conducted by telephone, in all States, city and country areas; 1200 interviews (sampling error + or - 3 percent)
  • 19 January 2006: Women for an Australian Republic strongly voiced its opposition to the ARM about the Mate for Head of State slogan but it fell on deaf ears. ARM, which considers any publicity about the republic to be good publicity, responded when Deputy Chair, Anne Henderson, took to crikey.com to admonish critics by saying that only a few cafe-latte sipping women in Sydney and Melbourne could possibly object to use of the word "mate" (has she forgotten the monarchist taunts about the chardonnay-sipping elites supporting the republic during 1999?) and that because four women had helped to organise it, all was OK. No, it wasn't. ARM must do better and try harder to represent women's interests in the republic. Was nothing learned from the "mateship in the Preamble" debacle in 1999?
  • 18 January 2006: The "Mate for Head of State" campaign is launched as an annual republic support day on the Sunday before Australia Day. The slogan, supported by the ARM who couldn't see what was wrong with it, spoilt an otherwise good idea. This slogan sends completely the wrong message. Women aren't going to vote for the Republic if they think it's a vote for "a mate". Our current head of state isn't our mate and our own head of state shouldn't be either. We are dealing with the head of the nation not the boss cocky of the local football club. Better slogans would be "Republic Now", "Let's Govern Ourselves" or best of all: "E-lect the Pres-i-dent".
  • 12 January 2006: The British Parliament denies women the same rights of succession to the throne as men saying that it was not necessary because the heir and his heir are male. As Allison Henry National Director of ARM commented, this does not comply with Australia's Sex Discrimination law so why does it apply to our head of state, determined by a foreign legislature without consulting or involving people here?
  • 1 January 2006: New Western Australian legislation making it optional for members of State Parliament to refer to God or the Queen in their oath of allegiance comes into effect.
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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