Jan 1

2007 news archive

  • 24 November 2007: The new Labor Government supports the formation of an Australian Republic, which is both refreshing and encouraging for Republicans after 11 years of Government opposition. However, Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said the day before the election that the Republic would not be a priority for his Government. WfaAR will be lobbying the Prime Minister to get the work on the plebiscites started, for a Government response to the 2004 Senate Inquiry and will urge the PM to open up selection processes for the next Governor-General due to be appointed around mid 2008. New Government Ministers vowed to work for the benefit of the Commonwealth but did not swear allegiance to the Queen. Hopes for across-the-board support for the Republic in the next Parliament were dashed when Dr Brendan Nelson, a long-time supporter of the monarchy, was voted in as the new Opposition Leader.
  • 5 November 2007: On the eve of the eighth anniversary of the 1999 referendum, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja (SA) releases the Australian Democrats' policy on the Republic for the 2007 election. The Democrats propose that the first stage vote on the Republic be held at the same time as the referendum on constitutional recognition of our Indigenous peoples, supported by both the current Government and Opposition and timed for around mid 2009. There would be a non-binding vote based on this question: "Do you want Australia to become a Republic?" The Democrats' announcement is the first specific policy to advance the national vote on the Republic. The Democrats also say that the vote would be followed by public consultation about different models for Head of State before a referendum on the Republic is held. WfaAR supports the Democrats' proposal - it's good to see a clear plan to move the Republic forward beyond statements of general support.

    Other major parties which also support Australia becoming a Republic are the Australian Labor Party and the Greens (see News Item of 25 July 2007 below).

  • 29 October 2007: With biennial ARM Branch Council elections completed in all States and the ACT, fewer women are holding official positions than before. Two Branches out of seven have female convenors - SA and Tas. In the ACT, there are two women out of eight Branch Council members; in NSW, one (total 6); in Victoria, one (11); in Qld, one (9); in WA, four (9); SA one (4) and in Tasmania, one (4), making women only in WA, SA Tas and the ACT around 25% of Branch Council membership. This corresponds with the drop in female representation on the ARM's National Council, that currently has no women elected members. This is not a good state of affairs for republican leaders who should reflect the make-up of Australian society (women are over 50% of the Australian population). One present member of National Council has a non Anglo-Celtic background but there are no Indigenous representatives.
  • 15 September 2007: Republic Rocks! ACT ARM hosted Rock for Republic in central Canberra with great bands enthusiastically supporting the cause. The day, which raised awareness about the Republic, was organised by ANU Republic Club members and dedicated republicans, Kate Holloman and Pip Blackwood.
  • 25 July 2007: At at backyard gathering with three families in suburban Melbourne, Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, undertakes to hold a referendum on the Republic. He said that the question was too confusing last time and, even though not a "first order issue", Labor plans another vote if they win this years federal election. Greens Leader, Senator Bob Brown, came out in support saying that the Greens would vote with Labor in the Senate to ensure that the referendum proposal gets up.
  • 2 July 2007: English writer and former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, Tina Brown, writes in her new book, "The Diana Chronicles", about "the British Royal Family's relationship with its sometimes restless former dominion". She also reveals that Prince William would like to be the Governor-General, our Head of State's representative in Australia [reported in "Diana, the life and death of an icon" by David Leser, Australian Women's Weekly, July 2007]. This news got a pretty cool reception in all quarters. Leading politicians said that only an Australian citizen should/could do the job. WfaAR thinks this suggestion, if true, shows how out of the touch the royals are with the Land Down Under.
  • 11 June 2007: Dr Jane Connors, a social historian from the University of Sydney, talks about different types of monarchists on ABC radio. She distinguishes between popular monarchists (mainly women who follow the doings of royal families and the cult of celebrity "exasperating generations of Australian republicans") and constitutional monarchists who believe that place of the British monarchy at the apex of our system of government is right. [Morning Interview with Margaret Throsby on ABC Classic FM]. Dr Connors wrote on this subject for ABC Online in the lead up to the Constitutional Convention (ConCon) in 1998. Other women writing for ABC Online at that time were Faith Bandler (see item of 25 May below); Elspeth Cameron; Irene Moss; Barbara Greenwood and Helen Razer covering a wide range of views on the Republic. Read their essays here.
  • 25 May 2007: ABC Classic FM host, Margaret Throsby, replays a 1995 interview with writer and political activist, Faith Bandler, who led and campaigned tirelessly for the 1967 referendum question on recogition of Aboriginal people. Faith Bandler said that she was a republican and that she was putting some energy into it. She thought that the Republic was important, but not the most important thing for Australia: employment, better chances for the poor, better opportunities for women and banning of arms sales were all more important. Faith Bandler had a South Sea Islander father and an Indian-Scottish mother and she married a refugee from Europe, who was Jewish, in the 1950s. Now 89, she has integrity, dignity, wisdom, charm and a most engaging personality. What a great first president of the Australian Republic she would have made! (The one successful question in the 1967 referendum, with 90% of voters saying YES, made constitutional changes to count Aboriginal people in the national population census and give the federal Government power to make laws for the benefit of Aboriginal people. Rights activists like Faith Bandler had campaigned for this change since the 1930s. This is one of only eight successful changes made to the constitution by referendum since Federation in 1901.)
  • 17 April 2007: The reported break-up between Ms Kate Middleton and Prince William, second in line to become Australia's Head of State, stirs republican sentiment. Michelle Lensink, Liberal Member of the Legislative Council in South Australia writes to the Adelaide Advertiser: "According to 'Mum's faux pas causes split' (The Advertiser 17 April 2007), so Carole Middleton saying 'pleased to meet you' and calling a lavatory, a 'toilet' offends the British Royal Family and therefore Kate is not worthy to become William's wife? What more proof do Australians need that their values are not in line with ours? Bring on the republic!"
  • 13 April 2007: At an investiture in Canberra to receive a Companion of the Order of Australia, prominent Perth businesswoman and arts patron, Janet Holmes a Court, said Australians could be ready for another referendum on the Republic: " We have our own national anthem, we have got our own High Court, we've got our own honours system, we just have an attachment to the Queen and the monarchy - and I am a huge fan of the Queen - and many Australians think it's time we severed that tie and become totally independent. I think we are approaching a time when we can think about it again. I think there are plenty of people who haven't stopped thinking about it. We need to work out a model that is acceptable to all Australians." Mrs Holmes a Court campaigned for the Republic during the 1999 referendum and was an elected ARM delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1998. ["Republic: many say it's time" by Kate Hannon and Claire Low, The Canberra Times, 14 April 2007]
  • 20 February 2007: Having been dropped from the Ministry, Senator Amanda Vanstone signals that she intends to pursue some issues "dear to her heart and Australia's identity" after this years federal election. One of them is the Republic. Senator Vanstone favours the most minimal change with the Governor-General becoming Head of State (still called Governor-General), chosen by the Prime Minister alone. However, she supports a national debate about the powers of the top job and the method of selection and says it's time for the matter to be raised again now that it's nearly 10 years since the 1999 referendum. ["Amanda for All Seasons" interview with Paul Daley, The Bulletin, 20 February 2007]. Senator Vanstone resigned from federal Parliament in April 2007 before being appointed Australia's Ambassador to Italy.
  • 26 January 2007: National Chair of ARM, Ted O'Brien, manages a women's angle on the Republic writing in The Age. Talking about Australia's Head of State, he says, "the office discriminates against women. Despite Australia first granting women the right to vote and to stand in elections as early as 1894, we remain bound by British laws relating to royal succession that grant male heirs precedence over female heirs. In other words, Queen Elizabeth is Australia's head of state simply because she did not have a brother. The notion that a woman can only be trusted for the top job when there are no men available is not only absurd, but it fails to comply with Australia's Sex Discrimination Act." Great to see Ted picking up the feminist argument, so keep up the good work ARM.
  • 23 January 2007: The Prime Minister drops Senator Amanda Vanstone from Cabinet and the federal Ministry. This is a loss for the republican cause as Senator Vanstone was a consistent supporter of the Republic after the 1999 referendum and often the only Liberal Minister to speak publicly of her enthusiasm for the change.
  • 21 January 2007: This years version of the annual Australia Day Newspoll published in The Australian did not disaggregate support for the republic by gender as in previous years, see our item of 21 January 2006 below. The 2007 poll showed support for the republic static at 45% (total) with 36% against and 19% uncommitted.
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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