Dec 25

Village Greens?

In her Christmas message, the Queen of Australia referred to sporting and other healthy activities taking place and being encouraged on "village greens up and down the country". No village greens, and often no green, to be seen in Australia so this could only be a reference to community life in the UK.

Nov 30

Royal Engagement Tweets

1. Another European Royal Engagement should be irrelevant in Oz.  Flashy smiles, Diana's ring and hype perpetuate attachment to our colonisers (17 November)

2. So Kate, but not William, is connected to only some of us by having a convict ancestor, not a transported one though (19 November)

3. GG overwhelmed by English royal engagement.  Surely she doesn't want it to unify us to them?  Is it really Oz behind the Yarralumla gates? (19 November)

Nov 20

GG overwhelmed by British Royal Engagement

Quentin Bryce got the gushes when it came to the prospect of another British Royal wedding.  In her official statement of congratulations, she described the betrothal as a "unifying time" for the country. As this event really has little to do with us, and everything to do with the United Kingdom, WfaAR thinks that the criticisms in Australia of this statement and its intent were quite justified. Surely she didn't mean that the wedding hoopla would unify us with them?

Nov 17

Royal Engagement Hype Misses the Point

Media coverage of the engagement of our next-but-one head of state fails to mention what's important for Australia.  In  2010,109 years after Australia's Federation, the betrothal of the heir to the heir to the British throne should be irrelevant to us, of little more interest than the engagements and weddings of other European royals.  Prince William, who is not Australian, will eventually be the head of our government unless the current Constitution is changed by the people, the majority of whom want Australia to be a Republic with an Australian citizen as head of state.  That change needs to be made to move our democracy into the 21st century - and sooner rather than later.

Nov 15

V for Vision = R for Republic

So the PM is being pressed to come up with a Vision for the country.  That can only mean R for Republic - and R for Reconciliation while we are about it.  We're just marking time until we seriously embrace government by the people, all of them! And fix up the omissions of the 1901 Federation.

Nov 6

Woman Co-Winner of Short Story Competition

Sydney librarian, Helen Bersten, is announced as the co-winner of the 2010 Republican Short Story Competition for her work, "Double Lives".  Ms Bersten has been the Hononary Archivist at the Australian Jewish Historical Society for many years for which she was awarded an OAM in 2005.  She has also been a voluntary reader on Radio 2RPH assisting people with reading difficulties, an avid writer of letters to the editor and an amateur poet.


Sep 21

ARM Council Low on Women

The number of women on ARM's National Council continues to decline.  After this years election, there are no women elected to Council and only one official member, SA Convenor, Lyn Petrie.

Sep 17

WfaAR's Views on Anzac Centenary 2014-2018

WfaAR contributes to public consultation on the Anzac Centenary.  We say this commemoration should be inclusive and low-key.  In particular, it should be forward-looking encompassing changes like the Republic, not acting against national developments by enshrining conservatism, Britishness and the Union Jack on the flag.  We also say 2015 would be a good year to implement the Republic as a fitting commemoration of the Gallipoli campaign and what it represents in the country today.  We note that 2015 will also be the centenary of the women's peace movement in Australia.

Download: Read the Submission [140KB, pdf]

Download: The 2015 Republic (attachment) [127KB, pdf]

Download: Attachment 1 - Vision for a Republic 2020 Summit [113KB, pdf]

Download: Attachment 2 - Women's Manifesto for Republic 2020 Summit [120KB, pdf]

Sep 1

Labor and Greens Agree on Referendums in next Parliament

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has agreed with the Greens to hold referendums during the new Government's three year term, or at the next election, on Indigenous recognition and recognition of local government in the Constitution. The prospect of referendums also holds promise for non-binding votes on the Republic at the same time. See also News of 21 January 2010 and 2008 and 2009 news items about Senator Bob Brown's proposal for a republic plebiscite considered by the Senate during the last Parliament.

Aug 19

Republic just won't go away

Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra on the eve of the election, Julia Gillard was asked what she would do in the next three years to get Australia ready for transition to a republic.  Among the familiar barrage of verbiage, the answer to that question emerges as a clear No.  Julia Gillard isn't going to do anything.  What she wants is "an organic coming together in the community - a sense that people want change".  She may get more than she's bargaining for post-election given the mood!  And it's all about the Government being able to win the day. The PM also said that the sense of activism from 1990s (now lost according to her) would have "to be rebuilt before it is credible to suggest that we would go to any form of vote with a hope of success".  That only appeared, on anything like 'community-wide' breadth, after the Constitutional Convention staged by the then Liberal Government in 1998. The polls were still well over 60% in 2009, including 55% of women supporting, so the jury is in. [Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Australians don't have real hunger for republic by Alison Rehn The Courier-Mail]

Aug 17

'Republic' on the hustings in Townsville

Late in the election campaign, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, says in Townsville that the best time for change to a Republic would be following a change of monarch.  She also said that the QEII should be the final queen of Australia despite "deep affection" for her. Other quotes from Townsville were: "What I would like to see as Prime Minister is that we work our way through to an agreement on a model for the republic" and "Obviously, I am hoping for Queen Elizabeth that she lives a long and happy life, and having watched her mother, I think there's every chance that she will."  Anyone for a citizens' assembly?  Meanwhile, Opposition Leader and PM contender, Tony Abbott commented, "I am far from certain that, at least in our lifetimes, there's likely to be any significant change" having said previously that a Republic would be created over his dead body.  Meanwhile Victorian Liberal Opposition Leader and republican, Ted Baillieu, described the PM's references to the Queen's longevity as "unfortunate".   [Julia Gillard says Queen Elizabeth should be Australia's last monarch by Matt Johnson AAP]

Aug 13

Republic Warning Bells if Abbott in PM's job

WfaAR writes to The Australian, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times about what might happen to the Republic push if the Coalition wins this weeks election.  The National Convenor's letter is published in The Canberra Times:

"Voters should indeed be wary of the glint in Tony Abbott's eye.  All 14 million of us have the right to know if he will reintroduce knighthoods apeing the recently elected conservative government in New Zealand.  Former NZ PM, Helen Clark, referred to them as markers of "snobbery and social distinction".  Is that what we want here?

While he's about it, Abbott also must categorically state that he will not legislate to make it harder for us to become a Republic as Joh Bjelke-Petersen did in Queensland.

We need both assurances in writing."

Sarah Brasch  Women for an Australian Republic  Weston ACT

Aug 12

Julia G unplugged on the Republic

The Prime Minister expanded on views about Australia becoming a republic in an interview with four journalists in Melbourne.  There were two new lowlights: firstly that she sees herself as a participant in a future debate about the republic rather than a leader.  Secondly, she states clearly that she does not support direct election of the President, even though it is supported by the people, because it "would be too much of a distortion to our current system of government."  The PM is stuck in 1999 - time to move forward Julia.

More info >

Aug 9

Referendum Planned but Not for Republic

Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin, announces that the next Labor Government would hold a referendum to introduce constitutional recognition of our First Peoples.  To do this, the Government will seek bipartisan support from the Opposition. No timing for the vote was announced but this would be a good time to also run a plebiscite on the Republic.  WfaAR noted that this statement was accompanied by the now well-worn and often repeated ALP warning that if this change is to be made to the Constitution, "it needs to have very broad community support" to quote Minister Macklin.

Aug 5

Republic Policy Statement for 2010 Election

Women for an Australian Republic, Real Republic and ARM issue a policy statement for the 2010 election calling on all political parties and candidates to lift their game and start talking about the nation's future as a republic because it affects all 14 million voters, more than half of whom are female.

Download: Read the joint statement and media release [547KB, pdf]

Aug 1

PM talks Republic to Women's Weekly

This is what Julia Gillard says about the Republic in her lengthy WW interview: "I am a republican.  It's a continuing debate.  I think the debate has cooled.  I get a sense that the next time the nation will really think its way through all of this is when Queen Elizabeth passes." [Julia 'I made my choices' by Bryce Corbett, Australian Women's Weekly, August 2010, pp44-56]

Jul 19

Informing PM about Current Republic Campaign

WfaAR says that the Prime Minister is uninformed about the process republican groups propose to move forward, to quote Julia Gillard's central campaign slogan. The people will be involved when given their chance to express their opinions on all aspects of the Republic. That requires an act of political leadership by our next federal Government.  Our advice for PM was sent to The Australian but not published.

Download: Read our letter [103KB, pdf]

Jul 15

PM distances Government from Republic Vote

At the National Press Club in Canberra, Julia Gillard is asked about the Republic.  She said "where the republic debate went wrong was that it became too much about what people like me think and not enough about what the community thinks".  She said that there has to be consensus (not yet evident) and a change from the NO vote of 1999 to YES.  She strongly signalled that unless her Government could clearly see that a referendum will succeed, then it will take no action.  She also commented that she doesn't see the same level of engagement with or activity on this issue as was the case in the late 1990s.  WfaAR reminds the Prime Minister that voter engagement with the Republic was minimal until the Constitutional Convention was convened by the Howard Government in 1998 and continued at a high level until the 1999 referendum.  After that, it dropped off quickly when it became evident that no further votes were on the horizon with the then Government remaining strongly opposed.  If a Gillard Government holds one or more non-binding polls or a referendum, the electorate will engage - strongly.  It must, it has to vote and make a choice.  See also Australia Will Not Vote on Ties to British Monarchy by Bonnie Malkin in the UK Telegraph 15 July; PM Lukewarm on Republic by Michelle Grattan in The Age 16 July.

Jul 1

Add Rights to the Constitution

Professor Larissa Behrendt of UTS Sydney says three rights should be added to the Constitution: due process before the law; equality; and freedom from racial discrimination.  She also says that the current Constitution doesn't protect basic human rights even though most people think that it does and contends that Indigenous people should be recognised in the Preamble if there really was a new relationship with the Australian State after the 1967 Referendum  - which should have brought about a new era of non-discrimination against Indigenous people.  Other speakers at the "A Constitution for all Australians" forum held at Parliament House in Canberra were Professor Carmen Lawrence, former High Court judge Michael Kirby and Professor Greg Craven.  Michael Kirby said we shouldn't be fixated on celebrating the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli in 2015, or engaging in faraway wars, but should concentrate instead on giving people rights. 

More info >

Jun 29

2010 Republic Short Story Competition

The second Republic Short Story competition has been announced.  There is a $500 prize for the winning entry on the theme of "Life and Death in an Australian Republic".    Entries close on 31 August.  Contact:

More info >

Download: Competition Info and Entry Form [95KB, pdf]

Jun 24

New Prime Minister a Republican

New Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, supports the Australian Republic. Being in favour is one thing, doing something about it is quite another.  So far, Ms Gillard has not shown any enthusiasm for the Republic even though she has been a leading member of the government since 2007 (see News item of 21 January 2010).  WfaAR calls on the Prime Minister to cease being poll-driven and implement the Republic as an act of political leadership during her term as head of the federal government.

Jun 13

Queen's Birthday Holiday Again Highlights Republic

In an article on the Queen's Birthday weekend, Stephanie Peatling writes in the SMH that the Liberal Party is actively talking to republicans about proposed changes to the Constitution even though the Opposition Leader,Tony Abbott, is a fervent monarchist.  Joe Hockey, the Shadow Treasurer and long a publicly declared republican, is now the Coalition's republic negotiator having taken over from Malcolm Turnbull. [Hockey Takes on Republic Cause, Stephanie Peatling in the Sydney Morning Herald].  Australia is one of few Commonwealth countries that has a public holiday to mark the birthday of their monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II.

May 29

Republic about National Identity and Symbols

ABC newsreader and journalist, Virginia Haussegger, speaks at the annual ARM dinner in Canberra.  Virginia links the push for a Republic with a desire for national identity, particularly among Anglo-Celtic Australians, comparing their lack of belonging with the strong cultural identity of Indigenous people.  She also commented that Australians still cling to the UK - and hence to the Queen - as "home" and said that the current flag was tainted and a relic of the past.  She thoughtfully analysed what the Republic debate has now become, demonstrating that it is no longer enough to say that you support a Republic, it's also necessary to say why you do.

Apr 21

Charter of Human Rights as Prelude to Republic Falters

The Government announces that it will not proceed with a Charter of Rights following the National Human Rights Consultation.  Submissions to the Inquiry were overwhelmingly in favour of the Charter. It had been assumed that further progress on the Republic referendum would follow a positive outcome of the Consultation to determine how to introduce the proposed Charter. 

Mar 11

Is Australia Ready for a Republic?

Lee Rhiannon thinks so.  The Greens Member of the NSW Legislative Council gives us her reasons in this speech.  Lee was elected as a NSW Senator for a six-year term starting July 2011 at the 2010 federal election.

More info >

Mar 9

No Sign of Republic Bill in Senate

Senator Bob Brown's Republic Plebiscite Bill (see News item of 29 April 2009) for a referendum at the time of the next federal electon due by April 2011 has not been listed on the Senate business list and is highly unlikely to appear this year.  Listing depends on the Government agreeing to further debate on the Bill following the 2009 Senate Inquiry .

Feb 12

Head of State to Address the UN

Things got feverish when news broke that Australia's "Head of State" would be addressing the UN.  No, it wasn't the Governor-General who would be in New York.  The argument over who is Australia's Head of State was settled for once and for all by the Buckingham Palace statement notifying that the Queen, as Head of State of Australia and 15 other countries, will address the UN General Assembly on 6 July.  According to media reports, the statement "took Australian diplomats, officials and constitutional combatants by surprise".  A male journalist positively salivating at the prospect writes: "The title fight - pitting the two female leaders, the sovereign and her representative, head to head - revives a debate that raged around the republican debate more than a decade ago" (this isn't correct, the argument about who is the Head of State only gained traction after the referendum - WfaAR).  Unsurprisingly, there was no comment from Yarralumla although Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said that the Government already knows about the speech and will ensure that the Queen is aware of Australia's views.  The Palace told The Australian that describing the Queen as Australia's Head of State was used "in a collective sense to refer to the Queen's position in relation to the UN member states that are also realms" (of The Commonwealth). [Queen takes on Bryce in Right Royal Title Fight by Tom Dusevic in The Australian]

Jan 21

Julia Gillard quashes Republic Referendum Proposal

A Royal vistor's presence renews speculation about a second referendum on the Republic.  Attorney-General, Robert McClelland says the Republic is an obvious question to include in the next referendum if Labor wins this years election.  Other topics at the top of the list are recognition of (a) our Indigenous peoples; (b) cooperative federalism and (c) local government in the Constitution.  But Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, rapidly killed off the suggestion saying this was not in the Government's plans and that "the referendum on the republic is something that will happen at some point in the future".  Kristina Keneally, NSW Premier, supports the reopening of the debate. [Royal Visit Reopens Referendum Debate by Angela Dorizas on; Gillard Talks Down Republic by Misha Schubert in The Age]

Jan 20

No Women's Weekly Splash for Prince William

Helen McCabe, Editor-in-Chief of the Women's Weekly says that the magazine has no plans to cover William's visit to Australia.  She writes that the Prince is now much more like his father in personality lacking both sparkle and an accompanying princess.  She says that the Weekly's assessment of the Prince's value to the magazine is not linked to the country's innate republican sentiment.  [A Lovely Young Man but Regally Bland by Helen McCabe in The Australian]

Jan 19

Kristina Keneally favours Republic

Kristina Keneally, American born NSW Premier, is interviewed after greeting Prince William on his arrival in Sydney. Although impressed by the Prince whom she described as "charming", she says that she is a republican.

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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