Dec 25

ABC News in London Strikes Own Chord for Republic

The ABC news crew in London strike their own chord for the Republic. All dressed up for the festive season, they do their own rendition of a well-known Christmas song outside Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing St: "We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year; Good tidings we bring, to you and your Queen (kin)......!!

Nov 26

UMR Research Poll on Support for the Republic

UMR Research Australia publishes a comprehensive online poll: 3,000 interviews from a nationally representative survey, which shows 43 percent of women (compared with 58 percent of men) support a republic answering the question: "Do you support or oppose Australia becoming a republic?". 32 percent of women were opposed compared with 24 percent of men. The poll also reports that 80 percent favour direct election - only 12 percent favour appointment by Parliament. The 23 page report is the most comprehensive survey/analysis on the republic for some time with quotes from respondents - see www.umrresearch.com.au

Nov 25

Public Nominations for British Poet Laureate

In a first, the British Government invites public suggestions for the position of Poet Laureate. The Department of Culture, Sport and the Media will consult academics; poetry organisations and "others in the poetry sector" from the UK and the Commonwealth, as well as the public, but pointed out that this will not be a popular vote. The Guardian Weekly comments that one problem with the appointment is finding a poet who supports the monarchy. [Poet sought: royal job, quite fraught by Mark Brown in The Guardian Weekly]

Nov 20

Death of Professor George Winterton

WfaAR records the passing of Professor George Winterton from the University of Sydney, a constitutional lawyer and invaluable adviser to the republican movement. Professor Winterton spoke most recently to republican groups at the fourth Republican Gathering in Sydney in May this year. His topic was the reserve powers of the Governor-General concluding that it was possible to have direct election without full codification of those powers (neither desirable nor practically possible). His obituary in The Canberra Times titled him simply "Republican". He is best known in republican circles as a member of The Corowa Four, one of the authors of the short and precise Royal Hotel Resolution, that still sets the benchmark for the content of a multi-choice advisory referendum (non-binding) on the Republic and way forward after that - see our news item of 10 December 2002 for the full text of the Royal Hotel Resolution.

Nov 18

Few Women on new ARM National Council

The ARM announces that two newly elected members of National Council are women: Prue Gusmerini and Kate Holloman, both of whom are young lawyers with experience in Indigenous communities. With only a small number of female State Branch convenors, that makes a total of around four women out of 18 Council members. The proportion of women on ARM National Council continues to fall.  Later after a resignation, Lyn Petrie Convenor of SA ARM, was appointed as one of the Deputy Chairs in 2009.

Nov 13

Senate Inquiry announced into Republic Plebiscite Bill

The Senate refers Senator Bob Brown's (Greens Tasmania) Plebiscite for an Australian Republic Bill 2008 to committee for inquiry and report by 15 June 2009. The short bill and one page explanatory memorandum can be accessed through the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee at www.aph.gov.au. The Bill proposes a single question plebiscite at the next federal election: Do you support Australia becoming a republic? Closing date for submissions is 6 February 2009.

Oct 30

Federation forged Australia's Identity not Gallipoli

At a book launch in Sydney, former Prime Minister Paul Keating, completely rejects the idea that an Australian identity was only first forged at Gallipoli. In WfaAR's view, he's right. The prominence of this male, military event - and defeat - has obliterated the achievement of the Federation of the Commonwealth 15 years earlier and stands in the way of achieving the Australian Republic today.

Oct 29

Head of State to Listen to Community Stories

The Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, speaking at the Australia Unlimited Conference supports the Australian Dialogue proposed by Aboriginal elder Pat Dodson, and former West Australian Governor John Sanderson, to shift Indigenous policy into "a post-reconciliation era". She refers to it as "a ground breaking nation-changing agenda". She also said, " the duty of public office must, at the very least, be to listen to the stories of our communities and to draw upon the depth and diversity of opinion and experience that is the fabric of Australian life." A good recipe for our own Head of State. [quotes from G-G sees new chance for a 'glad tomorrow' by Stuart Rintoul in The Australian]

Oct 29

Lord's Prayer to Start Federal Parliament Sitting Days

In a further sign of "being stuck", both the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader support The Lord's Prayer at the start of each sitting day in the federal Parliament, in place since 1901. They both reject acknowledgement of Indigenous peoples to start the days session and rotating the prayers of the main faiths represented in Australia. [Rudd, Turnbull back daily prayer by Nicola Berkovic in The Australian]

Oct 28

Eureka Flag and the Republic

In the Canberra suburb of Manuka, political journalist and artist, Christine Wallace, is staging an exhibition of screen prints of the Eureka flag. Chris says this flag is "burned into the memory of our nation" because "it was the only time in our history that blood has been spilt over politics". She describes the Australian flag as "the wrong colours and a kind of colonial relic." Insightfully she also says,"Australia's very stuck and everybody really moved to the right under John Howard, including the current Labor Prime Minister, and we need to find some symbols through which we can make Australia come unstuck." [Eureka! Unflagging Artist Puts the Boot In by Sarina Talip in The Canberra Times]

Oct 22

The Exclusive Inclusive Republic lecture

Dr Marion Maddox, Director of the Centre for Research on Social Inclusion at Macquarie University delivers a lecture on "The Exclusive Inclusive Republic" at the ANU in Canberra. She says the republic question is fundamentally about power but notes that discussions at ConCon in 1998 retained a place in the Constitution for a higher authority than the head of state, a 'generic god'. In the space leading up to the next Republic debate, she argues it's time for the framers of a cosmopolitan Australian Republic to look beyond 18th century anti-monarchism and anti-clericalism to a global ethos with its own economic, legal, cultural and environmental imperatives. Refer to the Freilich Foundation Archive for mp3 of Marion's talk.

More info >

Oct 11

Julie Bishop is 2008 National Republican Lecturer

Julie Bishop MP (Member for Curtin WA), Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, gives the ARM's National Republican Lecture in Canberra. During question time, she entertained the possibility of a non-binding vote on the republic at the 2010 federal election and foreshadowed that during inevitable reviews of all Liberal Party policies after the loss of last years election, the party's policy stance on the republic may be addressed. She said several times that republicans were still divided which suggests better communication with the Liberals is necessary to acquaint them with the cooperative work that is now going on between the various groups through the Republican Gatherings (see 17-18 May 2008 News item). The lecture was netcast live for the first time and can be viewed on ARM's website at www.republic.org.au

Sep 23

GG says People Capable of Deciding on Republic

Kerry O'Brien interviews new Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, on ABC's 7.30 Report. Asked about the republic, Ms Bryce says she is 'absolutely' sure that the Australian public can make up its mind on this issue when asked. WfaAR agrees. This has been our position for some time - put the question and let the voters decide.

Sep 18

Judith Brooks' letter on Leadership and the Republic

Judith Brooks of Women for an Australian Republic and Barwon Heads Vic writes to The Australian about Malcolm Turnbull's commitment to leadership and the republic. This is what she wrote: "By declaring that Australia will never separate from the British monarchy until the death of Elizabeth II, Malcolm Turnbull, our new 'confident' Leader of the Opposition reneges on an obvious leadership challenge. Now he is in a position to actually lead on this important unfinished national business and make amends for the disaster he presided over in the first republic referendum, he squibs the fight. He wants Australia to be a confident country which can do anything yet he wants us to wait a decade, or even two, to assume a truly independent national identity because, presumably it's all too hard. Leadership is about many things, including making history rather than following it."

Sep 15

Malcolm Turnbull says Republic has to wait until Queen dies - again

Malcolm Turnbull of 1999 republic referendum campaign fame becomes leader of the Liberal Party and of Her Majesty's Opposition. This gladdens republican hearts and fulfils a long-desired scenario with both the PM and the Opposition leader, strong republicans. The PM said he looked forward to working with Turnbull on the republic. Turnbull returned fire by saying that the republic is on hold until the Queen dies. WfaAR doesn't agree at all and is strongly of the view that the republic should be dictated by the timetable of Australians, not by events in another country. Is Malcolm Turnbull going to "break the nation's heart" this time round?

Sep 11

Native Americans part of United States Republic

Dr Stephen Cornell of the University of Arizona speaks in Canberra at a Reconciliation Australia lecture about advances made by native Americans in their own governance. He commented that separatism has little support in American Indian communities today. Indian nations, he said, "see themselves as inseparably part of the American republic." Food for thought to guide Australia's desire to become a Republic which would include everyone as equal partners (compared with the exclusiveness implicit in the way our current constitutional monarchy is perceived by many groups in our society and entrenched by the way the federation was achieved in the 1890s).

Sep 6

Germaine Greer says GG Job is Nugatory

Germaine Greer writing in The UK Guardian took things a step further. She says that although Australia has now has a woman as Governor-General (well behind other Commonwealth countries that still claim the UK monarch as their head of state), attitudes to its Indigenous peoples are as ignorant as ever. Describing the job as 'nugatory', she also says it has fewer rights than the poorest Australian  - and she got a bit confused between the Torres Strait Islanders who are an Australian first people and the South Sea Islanders brought here as slaves for the sugar plantations, who aren't.

Sep 5

More Required than a Female GG

Commenting on Quentin Bryce's inauguration as the Governor-General on a cold day in Canberra, the Prime Minister said on Sunrise (Ch 7 morning TV) that "if a little girl from a country town in Queensland....can become Governor-General, then girls can do anything". An familiar feminist refrain and eerily reminiscent of a republican line - and not a terribly successful one - run during the 1999 referendum campaign. He then almost immediately equivocated about when the Government intended to consult the people about becoming a republic. WfaAR reminds the PM that appointing a woman as the Queen's representative does not in any way accommodate the majority's desire to be a Republic.

Aug 7

Keating says High Time to get rid of QEII

Ex Prime Minister, Paul Keating, criticises the Rudd Government's lack of a clear message for the Australian public. In an interview on the 7.30 Report, he identified three themes that were as important now as they were in the mid 1990s when they were sidelined by the Howard Government. One of these was "to get rid of QEII" and bring in the Republic - and he didn't mean the ship. Keating also said you can't go around Asia saying you have borrowed the monarch of another country as your head of state. He urged the current federal Government to take time to think about the future.

Aug 2

WfaAR guests at ARM Vic Seminar

Judith Brooks representing Women for an Australian Republic is invited to speak at a Saturday forum for republicans put on by ARM Victoria. Judith explained her perception of the republican movement since the Constitutional Convention in 1998 and described the ARM from an outsider's perspective. Her talk sparked lively debate at the forum.

Jun 25

Prominent Republic Supporter leaves Senate

Senator Natasha Stott Despoja (Democrats South Australia) gives her valedictory speech in the Senate which she joined in 1996. Like Amanda Vanstone who left the Senate last year, Senator Stott Despoja's unswerving support for the Republic will be sorely missed. She leaves a prominent legacy of personal involvement in the 1998 Constitutional Convention and campaigning for the YES vote in 1999; membership of the Senate Inquiry into a Republic 2003-04; her private members bills; membership of ARM's National Council while serving in the parliament and launching the Democrats' policy for progressing the republic for the 2007 election (the only party that put out a republic proposal last year).

Jun 4

WfaAR isn't part of ARM

WfaAR ends its formal links with the Australian Republican Movement to avoid perceptions that it is a subsidiary group of that organisation. WfaAR continues to have a good relationship with ARM and individual members of ARM. We share many objectives in common. WfaAR looks forward to working closely with ARM to advance the Republic and to promote women's interests in and involvement in the Republic.

May 17

Republican Gathering 4

Republican Gathering 4 was held in Sydney hosted by Democracy First. Other groups attending along with WfaAR were: the Australian Republican Movement; The Copernican Republicans; Foundation for Constitutional Renewal; Patriots for the Australian Republic; Real Republic; Republic Now! and the Republican Party of Australia as well as a number of individual advocates. Groups discussed the form of plebiscites and referendums; desired alterations to the Constitution as well as the way forward after the recent change of government. This culminated in the first media statement made by the group acknowledging that a) choices about the republic belonged in the hands of the people and b) there should be one or more initial plebiscites followed by a single referendum (in contrast to the 2020 Summit recommendation).

Download: Media statement [44KB, pdf]

Apr 30

Changes made to 2020 Summit Recommendation on Republic

Ten days after the 2020 Summit, the Top Ideas from the Governance Group were changed (the only group of ideas where changes were made). The No 1 recommendation on the republic was changed with Stage 1 to be a plebiscite (a non-binding vote) on the principle that Australia becomes a republic and severs ties with the Crown and Stage 2 to be a referendum on the model of a republic after extensive and broad consultation. WfaAR does not agree with this staging and thinks that the people should make a number of choices at the first vote to prevent the threshold question from being voted down because it lacks detail. The proposed Stage 2 is interesting because it suggests choices on "the model for the republic" instead of the usual: "model for selecting the head of state". The Government needs to clarify its intentions and whether it accepts the Summit proposals.

Apr 20

Standing Ovation for Republic at 2020 Summit

The proposal for the Republic gets an rousing ovation at the 2020 Summit from the 1000 summiteers, the only idea to do so. But the recommendation of the Governance Group to introduce a republic with no time line: first by plebiscite asking whether we want republic or not, after which the Governor-General would retain all current titles and powers for five years, during which time we would explore and understand models for selecting the head of state, is not only odd and needlessly time-consuming but completely reverses the Corowa recommendations from 2001, voted on by 400 people. WfaAR immediately wrote to the Prime Minister seeking clarification of the 2020 recommendation,

Download: Letter to the PM [6KB, pdf]

Apr 19

Margaret Rolfe says Current System Needs to be Fixed

Margaret Rolfe writes to The Canberra Times again. This time she says in refutation of David Barnett's article that "Royalty protects us from tyranny", that the Governor-General does have independent political power and cites the 1975 sacking of the elected Government without reference to our head of state. She writes the system goes back to colonial days, with power supposedly reverting back to Britain, but no longer works - it needs to be fixed.

Apr 13

Appointment of First Woman Governor-General at last

Quentin Bryce is announced as our first female Governor-General to take up her job in September 2008. Fantastic to have a woman (finally catching up with Canada and New Zealand) but shame that this reputed republican is beholden to our foreign head of state. Let's hope that by the end of her term in 2013, we are well on the way to becoming a Republic with our own head of state.

Apr 11

Margaret Rolfe clarifies the 1999 "NO" vote

ACT republican, Margaret Rolfe, tells another letter writer to The Canberra Times that the vote against the republic in 1999 was not an overwhelming "no". She says it was the vote of those who were against a particular method for selecting the head of state joined with those who were against any form of republic, and that surveys show that the majority do want a republic now.

Apr 11

Michelle Grattan Highlights Government Caution on Republic

Michelle Grattan writes that even if the Prime Minister does want a republic, he knows that he must tread carefully and ensure that the momentum for change comes from the people not the Government. She thinks some Labor Ministers are minimalists and that all the devil will be in what's acceptable to the Government for selecting the head of state. ["A difficult tie to break, The Age, page 13]

Apr 9

WfaAR's 2020 Summit Republic Ideas

WfaAR submits three ideas papers to the 2020 Summit. See also the 2020 Summit site at www.australia2020.gov.au (Topic 9 Governance).

Download: Women's Vision for Australian Government in a Republic in 2020 [12KB, pdf]

Download: Women's Manifesto for the Republic [10KB, pdf]

Download: Top 10 Ideas for Fast-Tracking the Republic [12KB, pdf]

Apr 7

PM as King of Cool on Republic

The Age's Michelle Grattan accompanying the Prime Minister on his first overseas trip writes from London that the PM is 'king of cool on the republic" because he would not say that he would push for Australia to become a republic on the eve of an audience with the Queen, our Head of State, but that we'd get there eventually [The Age page 4].

Mar 30

Letter to the SMH about Talking Up the Republic

WfaAR is disappointed by George Williams' article in the Sydney Morning Herald, "Frozen Continent" [SMH 29/30 March 2008], in which he talks down the prospects of the Government's list of items for constitutional change, particularly those of the Republic. Professor Williams, a constitutional lawyer, is also a member of ARM's National Council. This is not good enough! All republican advocates should be positive about the Republic, all the time. WfaAR is very confident, in spite of the history, that a republic referendum held after at least one non-binding indicative vote to set the framework for the Republic (title of head of state; method for selecting head of state; what head of state is to be called etc) will get across the line easily. The people want to vote YES this time.  Our letter was not published.

Download: Our letter [4KB, pdf]

Mar 29

Republic of Equals at Weekend of Ideas

Professor Kim Rubenstein, Director of the Centre for International and Public Law at the ANU and adviser to WfaAR, delivers the Dymphna Clark Lecture at the Manning Clark House annual Weekend of Ideas. She talked about a "republic of equals", the connection between women and the full expression of citizenship in an Australian Republic.

Download: Kim Rubenstein DC Lecture [68KB, pdf]

Mar 28

No Women Republicans at 2020 Summit

No active women republican advocates are invited to attend the 2020 Summit. In fact, there's only one male republican activist among the 85 people in the Governance Group

Mar 25

WfaAR writes to the Prime Minister about Republican Constitution

WfaAR writes to the Prime Minister offering to canvass our ideas with him for implementing the Republic. We say that we do not confine our interests to the best method for selecting the head of state but see the adoption of a new republican constitution to be deeply significant in the change to a republican form of government.

Download: Our letter [19KB, pdf]

Mar 6

Republic to settle "other outstanding matters"

Professor Larissa Behrendt of University of Technology Sydney says in an opinon piece in the National Indigenous Times that the unfinished business of the Australian Republic is the perfect opportunity to settle "other outstanding matters". She writes that Australia "will not mature into a 'just society' until the nation-building processes have included Aboriginal people. Evolving into a republic is a moment that offers this opportunity. And it will also be the moment many other sectors of the community excluded from the original nation-building exercise can also place their stamp on the country." Larissa was the ARM's 2005 National Republican Lecturer. Read her article in full at www.nit.com.au (search the archive on Larissa Behrendt 6 March 2008)

Feb 14

Women suggest Process for Selecting Governor-General

A group of women advocates for the republic writes to the Prime Minister with suggestions for making the selection process for the Governor-General more open and more transparent. They suggest a website for nominations from the public with guidelines for proposers, announcing the shortlist at a suitable time in the process and involving the Leader of the Opposition in the decision. Writers include individuals, academics and the Sydney-based group Women Into Politics (www.womenintopolitics.org.au), which has been actively lobbying for a woman-friendly selection process for the President for some years, supported by WfaAR.

Feb 13

National Apology to Stolen Generations rekindles Interest in Republic

National Apology to the Stolen Generations Day and the first step towards Reconciliation - a very inspiring and heartening occasion. Surely, a country reconciled between black and white will be the Commonwealth reconstituted as a Republic. That is WfaAR's fervent hope and long-held objective.

Feb 5

WfaAR writes to the Prime Minister about 2020 Summit

WfaAR writes to the Prime Minister about adding "the republic" to the list of topics for the Australia 2020 summit to be held in Canberra 19-20 April. We state that at least half the 1000 participants should be women.

Feb 2

Royal Commission Proposed into Australia's Future

Lisa Pryor, a journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald says it's time for us to "make a decision about the the kind of future we want as a state and as a nation. The time has come for structural reform, a genuine change in the way we do things." She recommends a Royal Commission into the entire system from top to bottom. ["Nothing less than a Royal Commission into languishing system will do", Lisa Pryor, SMH]

Jan 30

WfaAR writes to the Prime Minister about next GG

WfaAR writes to the Prime Minister about the appointment of the next Governor-General asking him to hold a public nomination process, appoint a small committee to assist him come up with the shortlist of nominations, at least half of which are women, and to discuss the appointment with the Opposition Leader before it is announced. We have also urged the PM to pursue women and Indigenous candidates noting that it's high time a woman was appointed to the job.

Download: Our letter [25KB, pdf]

Jan 27

Malcolm Turnbull's opinion about Timing of the next Republic vote

WfaAR is strongly critical of remarks made by former ARM head and now prominent parliamentarian, Malcolm Turnbull, that the catalyst for the republic will be the death of the Queen. The comments received unfortunately wide media coverage. We point out to Mr Turnbull that at least three catalytic events for the republic have already taken place: the 1967 referendum recognising Aboriginal people as citizens; the Governor-General dismissing the Whitlam Government in 1975 and the Bicentennary of white settlement in 1988. Each of these events left deep marks on the Australian psyche and has altered our national identity to the point where changes in the structure of our government are unavoidable. We think that the catalyst for change will come from the Australian people, not from events 12,000 miles away. We expect Mr Turnbull to be promoting the republic during the first term of the Rudd Government and working cooperatively within the federal government, of which he is part, to bring it about.

Jan 26

Woman Republican awarded OAM

Victorian republican advocate, Kerry Lovering, is awarded an OAM in the Australia Day honours list for services to women. Kerry is an active member of ARM.

Jan 26

Ausflag revives

The organisation searching for a truly Australian flag announces its revival. Their website can be found at www.ausflag.com.au. WfaAR supports a new Australian flag as an important symbol of the Republic and is pleased to see Ausflag back in business.

Jan 22

No January opinion poll on Republic this year

There was no opinion poll on support for the republic this year - see previous January items for results of earlier polls.

Jan 20

Appointing the next Governor-General

The Prime Minister says he won't appoint a politician - or former politician - as the next Governor-General. As the present G-G plans to leave office in August this year, this will be a big test for the new PM because replacing the Head of State's representative will be an early indicator of his ability to deal with contentious symbolic issues and desire to promote government renewal. That announcement immediately triggered media speculation about possible names. Phillip Adams went for women: Germaine Greer (GG for GG) or Lowitja O'Donoghue. WfaAR strongly supports a woman being appointed as the next Governor-General and a more public selection process than seen at any time since Federation. Both Canada and New Zealand have had women Governors-General, so why can't we? There's no shortage of good women candidates. ["If Bomber won't do, let's have Germaine." Phillip Adams in The Australian, 22 January 2008]

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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