Dec 31

Exit Gallipoli, enter Eureka

"Eureka, The Unfinished Revolution", by journalist and commentator, Peter Fitzsimons, will be made into a television series in early 2014.  "The time is coming when Eureka will be acknowledged as the great Australian story" says Fitzsimons.  The book tells the story of the Eureka Stockade of 1854, when the Irish-led goldminers of the Victorian goldfields rebelled against the British colonial authorities.  Books about women's role in the uprising have been written by Laurel Johnson, "Women of Eureka", portraits of 23 women who took part and by Clare Wright whose "Sex, Power and the Pursuit of Freedom on the Victorian frontier": the perspective of the 5,000 women on the Ballarat goldfields, will be published by Text in 2013.  Robyn Annear from Castlemaine is the author of "Fly a Rebel Flag: the Eureka  Stockade" published in 2004.  For younger readers, it was shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Young People's History Prize the same year.

Dec 13

Mothers of Federation theme for WHM 2013

Australian Women's History Forum announces the theme for Women's History Month (March 2013) will be Founding Women: Mothers of Federation.  It will recognise and honour women who influenced the movement towards nationhood and the constitution of the new federation as well as women's right to vote.

Dec 5

Australian women all over ponder the republic

Tasmanian blogger, Meg Bignell, is thinking about the republic and whether she should vote YES next time.  Find her take on the pros and cons at: http://megoracle.com for 5 December 2012.

Dec 4

Support for Monarchy declines in six months

A Morgan Poll taken 27-29 November, following the royal visit for the Diamond Jubilee, showed that support for the monarchy had declined by six percent since June 2012.  622 people were asked by phone: "In your opinion, should Australia remain a monarchy or become a republic with an elected President"  This is a very small sample with a high margin of error; the results were not disaggregated by gender.  

 

Dec 1

No Queen by 2015 Petition

Advancing Democracy launches a new proposal to improve the Constitution that removes the monarchy from our foundation document.  The No Queen by 2015 petition can be found at: http://www.communityrun.org/petitions/no-queen-by-2015.

Nov 28

Senator Singh addresses the Senate about new republic campaign

Senator Lisa Singh (Tas), speaks in the Senate about the recent launch of the ARM's Our Identity campaign (www.ouridentity.org.au) in Hobart.   She also mentions the ALP's new Policy Action Caucus supporting the movement for a republic. She says that the group called Labor for an Australian Republic, under grassroots convenor Daniel White, is reinvigorating the movement inside the ALP.

 

Read Senator Singh's comments: http://www.lisasingh.com.au/newsroom/speeches/adjournment---australian-republic/

Nov 28

Vale Joan Bielski

A memorial service attended by the Governor-General, is held for feminist activist and republican, Joan Bielski.  Joan would have been highly indignant that the event, held in Parliament House Sydney, was overlooked by signed photo-portraits of the Queen and Prince Phillip.  Joan was a representative of Women into Politics on the organising committee for the Women's Constitutional Convention in January 1998 and was pictured on the front page of The Australian on 2 February 1998 as one of the "Mothers of the Republic".

Nov 25

Record number of women on ARM National Council

Women just elected to ARM's national council are Michelle Wood (NSW) Kathy Schoo and Deborah Crossing (both from the ACT), Rhiannon Newman (SA) and Kathleen Jones (Qld). Half the elected council members are now women.  This is a big step forward for ARM as it's many years since there have been more than one or two - or none! Together with the two ex-officio branch convenors, seven out of 18 members of council are female. 

Nov 20

"Our disappearing Republic"

In an interview on ABC Radio Melbourne, writer Amanda Lohrey says that she is interested in searching for "our disappearing republic".  WfaAR associate, Judith Brooks, quipped in reply that she knows how to lure it from its hole, "The Australian Republic is, like many Australian animals, nocturnal, rarely seen by day and spends most of its time hiding from its historic predators: Mythic Glory, Sentimental Duty and Rationalised Subservience."
 

Nov 15

Faux Pas at Opening of Queen Elizabeth Terrace

National Convenor, Sarah Brasch, writes to The Canberra Times about awful remarks made by the Prime Minister at the opening of Queen Elizabeth Terrace:

"We were astonished to hear the PM refer to 'the crimson thread of kinship' in her embarrassing speech cosying up to the royals at the newly minted Queen Elizabeth Terrace last Saturday. The words have always been code for the White Australia Policy, confirmed by the Australian Government's own National Archives on its website. They were frequently heard until the 1950s as successive Prime Ministers extolled our Britishness, our deep ties to 'kith and kin' and a place that intentionally excluded non-white races. Back then, we were even claimed to 'speak British'. Whoever wrote the speech doesn't know much about Australian history and, unfortunately, neither does the PM. Little wonder she does nothing about the Republic."

Nov 10

Royal Visit diminishes us and them

Late afternoon and, thankfully, another tedious royal visit ends.  The colonials have been inspected for six days by Charles and Camilla! Quite bizarre, especially the six scrubbed merinos in a pen atop the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney for a gig promoting our wool industry - Charles wore a suit made of Australian wool and, presumably, at a similar event in New Zealand, a Kiwi grown ensemble. Actually, WfaAR feels quite sorry for them as they looked as if they wished they were anywhere else, like at home with their feet up, both the Cornwalls and the sheep. The "crowds" were underwhelmingly small, mostly royal obsessives clutching dogs or expat and visiting Brits. The Canberrans, who get it, stayed away in droves from the opening of Queen Elizabeth Terrace. PM Gillard gave another woefully fawning speech to mark the occasion (she'd been out of the country all week). That was full of mistakes and embarrassed us all.  Another costly royal visit ......and we aren't just talking about the money.

Nov 9

Question for Scottish Independence Referendum 2014

"Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country" is submitted to the Electoral Commission for 12 weeks of testing.  Critics claim this wording is biassed towards a YES response.  Sounds familiar.  Research, it is also claimed, has shown that it will make little difference by the end of a two-year campaign what the wording is, by that time voters will be aware of the choice they are making. ['SNP formally submits independence referendum question' by Simon Johnson, Telegraph, 9 November 2012]

Oct 28

Australia in the Asian Century omits Republic

The Australia in the Asian Century White Paper is released.  It sets out a plan to ensure Australia takes advantage of the opportunities offered by deeper engagement with the countries and peoples of Asia. The PM commented, "It is not enough to rely on luck - our future will be determined by the choices we make and how we engage with the region we live in. We must build on our strengths and take active steps to shape our future."  The paper makes no reference to Australia becoming a republic, so strenghtening ties with the large number of Asian republics that we are surrounded by and trade with.  Another policy opportunity missed.

Oct 25

Why do we need Queen Elizabeth Terrace in the Canberra Parliamentary Zone?

Why indeed? Especially when an Australian of considerable note was bumped to provide another Diamond Jubilee commemoration for the Queen of Australia. We have dozens of buildings, hospitals and geographical landmarks named after our monarch.  Yes, we are obliged to mark the occasion by the fact of what's in Section 1 of our Constitution but paying for and staging one major royal visit by the Queen herself in late 2011 was enough.  It's the second time that Sir Henry Parkes has made way for our Queen.  She was reinstated on the $5 note featuring Catherine Helen Spence and Sir Henry, "the Father of Federation" after the Centenary of Federation in 2001 at the express direction of Prime Minister Howard. WfaAR has written to the Prime Minister saying that we are unimpressed about the Government's decision to change the street name and asking for clarification about how the decision was made.

Download: Here is the text of our letter [119KB, pdf]

Oct 24

Governor-General's Appointment Extended

Quentin Bryce's appointment has been extended for six months from September 2013 until March 2014, seemingly to avoid having to appoint a replacement in the run-up to or around the time of the next federal election due in the second half of next year (chosen solely by the Prime Minister who may or may not consult with others about the decision).  WfaAR reminds both the Government and the Opposition that having a woman to represent the Queen of Australia is no substitute for the Republic.

Oct 15

Progress on Scottish Independence Referendum

A referendum to decide Scotland's future - maximum devolution but stopping short of independence - will be held late in 2014.  This is described as the biggest shake-up in the United Kingdom since the Irish declared their independence in 1921 and Scotland's biggest political decision in 300 years.  The vote cannot be deferred if it's unlikely to succeed and 16 year olds will be participating.  Spending limits on the campaign are already contentious but not yet settled.  England is opposed, wanting the vote in 2013 and under 18s excluded but had to give ground.  The referendum is also described as "socially important" for Scotland.  More interesting stuff happening in Scotland than in Australia. ['Scottish referendum countdown begins with Cameron visit to Scotland' by Nicholas Watt and Severin Carroll, The Guardian, 15 October 2012]

Oct 1

Women's Weekly Love Affair with the British Royals

WfaAR doesn't think much of it (see our 1 September news item) and said so to the AWW.  They didn't publish our letter so here it is. We urge the AWW to run an article covering opposing views and assist women to understand what a republic is all about - and include more commentary on these sorts of issues by women rather than those of three men that accompanied the 25 page special "Young, hip and royal".  The article also contained the statement "It's never been more hip to fly the flag for the monarchy" written by a British journalist for a British audience and borrowed from a British newspaper!

Download: Read our letter here [6KB, pdf]

Sep 28

Governor-General unveils Jubilee Portrait of Queen of Australia

Another portrait of the Queen of Australia is unveiled in Canberra by the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce.  Asked why he was chosen to paint the only official jubilee portrait, artist Ralph Heimans speculates that because the portrait was to be unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery and displayed in Australia probably played a part.  Quite cooincidentally, WfaAR is sure, Heimans is Australian born but lives in the UK.  The portrait is on loan from the artist for the 'Glorious' exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery with works representing our Queen in the early and late years of her reign drawn from NPG's collection, together with portraits of Australians on whom she has bestowed honours.  It runs until 31 March 2013. [Artist captures 'vulnerable' Queen in true light by Ron Cerabona, The Canberra Times, 20 September 2012]

Sep 20

Indigenous Recognition Referendum Shelved

In a move that was strongly foreshadowed in a speech given by Attorney-General Nicola Roxon on 20 July, the Government announces that the referendum to recognise our First Peoples in the Constitution would be deferred in favour of an Act of Recognition (with a sunset clause) to be introduced into federal parliament by the end of the year.  Reasons cited were lack of community support (no doubt registered in the much favoured focus groups and telephone polling) and lack of Coalition support (the Opposition claims that only Tony Abbott as PM could carry the day, in yet another dig at Julia Gillard).  The Government forgot to mention its own lack of leadership on this issue having farmed out the work to Reconciliation Australia while providing no strong public supporters of its own. The proposed referendum on Indigenous recognition resulted from the agreement between the Greens and  the independents to assist Labor form government in 2010 [see also News of 26 January below]

Sep 10

Cool View from Overseas

Australian born writer, Kathy Lette, now resident in the UK, sees things as they are.  She reports that a new survey about a Cambridge baby rates the child - now the subject of intense speculation and the heir to the heir to the heir to the British throne, if it's a boy that is - as "the most influential child in the world" and concludes that "Australians are fond of all kinds of queens, but it doesn't mean that we want to be ruled by them. So let's not allow a royal baby to be a PR stealth weapon, flying right under our royal radar." [Republicans beware: a royal baby will help the monarchy by Kathy Lette, The Age, 10 September 2012]

Sep 4

2012 Republican Short Story Competition - Speculate on our Republican Future

The fourth National Republican Short Story Competition is now underway with the theme: 'defining Australian identity in a future Australian republic'.  Entries close 6 November and cost $11.99.  Length 2000-4000 words with first prize of $500; second $60 and third $40.  Details and entry form at http://republicanfiction.blogspot.com or enquiries can be directed to: fiction@republic.org.au  Women have done well in this competition  - winning twice so far - so let's keep it up.

Sep 1

Women's Weekly overdoses on the Royals

The September edition of the Weekly has a 25 page feature on the young royals with a heavily made-up Kate on the front cover.  They're obviously selling but the content doesn't gel especially as the main article,"Why it's hip to be royal" is clearly intended for British readers. Why would the AWW print in an article by Katie Nicholl, Royal Editor for the Mail on Sunday,an English newspaper, including upfront, "The British monarchy has never been cooler and that's official..... There's no need to whisper - it has never been more hip to fly the flag for the monarchy...."? Not at all hip for us, of course, in spite of brief comments from a few local supporters, including Tony Abbott, added as an afterthought. WfaAR notes that all went to print before shots of Prince Harry sans clothes in Las Vegas and the Duchess of Cambridge likewise in France hit the media.

Jul 27

The Olympics and the Republic

The Olympics provide yet another perspective on the Australian Republic.  Once again there was the enervating spectacle of the unremarkable flag, hardly distinguishable from that of New Zealand, alongside green and gold boxing kangaroos. The medal ceremony for first (UK), second (Australia) and third (New Zealand) in one of the women's rowing events looked like the mother country and two colonies.  Boxer Damien Hooper was a champion in all senses, opting for an Indigenous T shirt to express his opposition to the Union Jack on our flag.  He also commented, "I made a fan page and six hours later  had 10,000 likes on it.  I had all that support flowing in, non-Aboriginal people supporting me as well....we are two cultures living in one nation.  We get along thesedays."  Over at the Channel 9 studio, Leila McKinnon could hardly contain her excitement in getting to talk to Princes William and Harry leading to a very dull interview indeed.  Prince William thought that Australia should join with other Commonwealth countries to beat the Americans.  That's an odd notion for Australians.  We only have one objective in sport and that is to whip the Poms, in which objective we failed miserably on this occasion.....next time...... meanwhile, we should whip them with our Constitution and make ourselves a Republic.

Jul 3

Girl Guides Drop Queen from Oath

Girl Guides Australia announces that it has changed its Promise (the oath taken by all guides) and dropped allegiance to the Queen.  Guides Director, Brenda Allen said that the change had been made after 18 months of consultation and added, "Our community comes from about 200 different countries. We need to be able to reflect our members and have wording...that is meaningful and relevant to Australian girls in the 21st century."  The usual media beat-up here described the change as controversial but it is hardly that, merely sensible as we move away from our colonial past. Monarchist organisations were appalled.The new wording of the Promise received wide media coverage overseas where some commentators interpreted it as inappropriate in the Diamond Jubilee year.  The Girl Guides themselves made the choice, WfaAR cannot believe that our monarch would be terribly bothered.

Jun 12

What a difference a pop concert makes

A British poll finds that its royal family is enjoying record popularity with 69 percent in favour, the largest support recorded since 1997, but only 39 percent wanted the throne to pass to Charles, 48 percent preferring it to go straight to William. However, those figures reversed in just a fortnight with 48 percent favouring Charles ahead of William (38 percent) after Charles stood in for his sick father at Jubilee events and made a warm and witty speech to "Mummy" at the pop concert outside Buckingham Palace. [Guardian/ICM poll May 2012].  Those interpreting the poll say that despite the Queen's popularity in Britain, things gets could get much more complicated after she leaves the scene but only 10 percent of Britons want an elected head of state after her death.

Jun 11

The British monarch and Australia in the cold light of day

Following the Diamond Jubilee events in London and yet another Queen's Birthday holiday weekend here, it seems as good a time as any to review the role of the British monarch in Australia. Firstly, does she advise, warn or counsel? (Bagehot).  Secondly, does she "perform the ceremonial and official duties of Head of State, including representing Britain to the world; provide a focus for national identity and unity; provide stability and continuity in times of change; recognise achievement and excellence; encourage public and voluntary service" in addition to holding a large number of garden parties and walkabouts (The role of the sovereign www.royal.gov.uk).  For Australia, it is clear that she does not do these things although she may do some of them if she is in the country, 16 visits in 60 years.

Jun 3

Is Australia's Sovereign semi-divine?

British Journalist, Catherine Bennett, asks the question as she reviews new tributes to the Queen of the United Kingdom and Australia exploding out of the Diamond Jubilee and ranging across her "abilities, wisdom, beauty, self-denial, endurance and devotion and that do not excude the physically superhuman".  Comparing Britons to the leader worship displayed by North Koreans, she wonders if they are almost as mad (what does that make us?).  She describes the royal family as uncontaminated by ideas, ambition or democratic election and concludes "no one should mistake mass worship of Queen Elizabeth for the end of republicanism". Quite right says WfaAR. [New Elizabethans? No, our triumphs owe nothing to her by Catherine Bennett, The Observer, 3 June 2012]

May 27

Brits think Perth WA is remote

In a BBC documentary about the Diamond Jubilee, WfaAR was both astonished and amused to hear the WA capital city, referred to as "the remote city of Perth".  Modern Perth, with more than 1 million people, is not "remote" in the Australian meaning of that word and, as far as the Brits are concerned, is much closer geographically to the UK than any of our east coast cities.  How quaint!

May 25

Her Majesty's Secret Documents

Anne Twomey tells us that we know very little about how the Queen has fulfilled her constitutional functions, including with Australia, because of the effort made to prevent scholars, historians and her subjects from finding out.  Documents held by the Royal Household are not public. Correspondence between the Queen and her Governors-General are archived at Windsor Castle and not subject to FOI.  Professor Twomey says that this is not a ringing endorsement of constitutional monarchy in our age of transparency, scrutiny and accountability.  In 2011, a new British law came into effect so that any government documents recording communications with the Queen, the heir and the second in line to the British throne cannot be released for a minimum of 20 years after they are made and then for the lifetime of that royal family member plus an extra five years after their death. [Her Majesty's Secret by Anne Twomey, Australian Financial Review, 25 May 2012]

More info >

May 23

Canberra 100 to lead on Republic?

WfaAR writes to the ACT Chief Minister requesting that the reference to the monarch be dropped from the City of Canberra's coat of arms.  The current motto is "For the Queen, the Law and the People".  This does not sit well with the decidedly republican population in the capital territory that voted 64% YES in 1999. We say that the Centenary of Canberra in 2013 would be a good time to make this change.  Western Australia, South Australia and the City of Sydney do not have mottoes on their coats of arms.

May 14

Independent Scotland could be a Republic

Christine Grahame, a senior MP in the Scottish National Party, confirms that the party intends to hold a referendum on the monarchy.  She says that  there will be a vote about an independent Scotland having a "full blown monarchy, an edited version or a republic".  She favours a republic.  This conflicts with Alex Salmond's claim that the United Kingdom monarch would automatically remain Scotland's head of state following separation from England.  The report got good coverage in the Australian media. We are now behind Scotland, in both approach and timing!  The same paper ran a headline referring to the Queen by her pet name "Lilibet". [Queen could be ousted as Scotland's head of state by Simon Johnson, Telegraph, London, 13 May 2012]

May 10

Farewell to Ningali Cullen

WfaAR sadly records the death of determined republican Ningali Cullen, known to many as Audrey Kinnear.  Ningali, born on traditional lands in South Australia but who later lived and worked in Canberra, was a link between the republic and reconciliation movements (National Sorry Day Committee Indigenous co-chair and Journey of Healing).  She campaigned strongly for both and was a member of ARM's National Council for several years. "Ningali is in the Dreamtime right now organising for a republic" [Derick Cullen, 19 May 2012].

May 10

Nobel Laureate's Thought about Australia's Future

A striking sight in the "White Whiteley" exhibition opening at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, today until 22 July.  The centrepiece of the 11 works is Whiteley's large portrait of the writer "Patrick White at Centennial Park 1979-80" that usually hangs in the NSW Parliament building.  Whiteley attached a handwritten list of the Nobel prize winner's Loves and Hates to the portrait.  In slightly faded red biro capitals in the Loves column is "The Thought of an Australian Republic".  Another artist in the lead before the current campaign got going the 1990s.

May 9

Queen's Speech to UK Parliament on Change to Succession Law

At the opening of the UK Parliament, the Queen says, "My Government will continue to work with 15 other Commonwealth Realms to take forward reform of the rules governing succession to the Crown".  This means legislation to provide that children inherit in birth order irrespective of gender should be introduced this session after agreement by all the realms at CHOGM in Perth last year.  The Deputy Prime Minister, NIck Clegg, later confirmed that the date of effect would be October 2011.  Progress is awaited with interest.  The Brits have had several attempts at this change in the last 10 years through private members' bills rather than the Government taking the initiative as is the case this time round.  Australia has already agreed to the change and will need to pass similar legislation not only through the federal parliament but also through the six State parliaments, all of which have continuing constitutional links with Britain and its monarch (also applies to Canada).

Mar 28

Woman Wins Republican Short Story Competition

Writer Valda Marshall, born in Adelaide now living in Sydney, wins the third Republican Short Story Competition for "The Child of the Holocaust" on the theme of Citizen or Subject.  Valda describes herself as a longstanding, staunch republican, "At the movies in the 50s, when they played God Save the Queen, even then I thought, why are we doing this?".  This is Valda's second foray into writing about the republic.  Her novel "The First President" about a woman running for and becoming the Australian republic's first head of state in 2016 was published two years ago (see our News Item of 18 December 2009).  In contrast, the three winners of the Inaugural Young Republicans National Essay Competition, also run by ARM, were all young men.

Feb 17

Republic will Fly - WfaAR Letter to The Canberra Times

The republic debate in The Canberra Times is still going.  Read our latest letter in reply to a persistent critic.

Download: Letter to The Canberra Times [55KB, pdf]

Feb 4

Women Speak at Head of State Conference

The keynote address at the ARM's Our Say/ Head of State Conference held at Deakin University in Melbourne is given by Senator Lisa Singh, Labor Senator for Tasmania and former ARM Tasmania Convenor and Tasmanian Government Minister 2008-2010.  The other woman to speak was Professor Anne Twomey, constitutional lawyer and author of "The Chameleon Crown".

Senator Singh's speech is published at http://www.lisasingh.com.au/newsroom/speeches/address-to-the-australian-republic-movement-on--wh/

 

Jan 26

WfaAR Republic Prediction for 2012

In the absence of new republic polls for Australia Day, WfaAR predicts that 2012 could be a pivotal year for the Australian republic.  Things to watch are:

- the reaction to the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall for the Diamond Jubilee

- developments with the referendum to recognise our First Peoples in the Constitution

- Jamaica's progress towards a republic

- the Scottish independence referendum that could be the start of Scotland's exit from the United Kingdom and removing the UK's monarch as head of state.

Jan 10

100% increase in women on ARM National Council

Longstanding Council member, Lyn Petrie (SA), has been joined by Elizabeth Borello, WA Convenor.  Both are automatic members because they are State/Territory convenors.  There are still no elected women representatives on ARM National Council.  Elections are due late this year.

Jan 6

Jamaica to Become a Republic

New Jamaican Prime Minister, Portia Miller Simpson, announces at her inauguration that Jamaica would be well on the way to becoming a republic by the end of the year.  A previous attempt stalled in 2007.  Jamaica's change could influence other small Caribbean nations.  Domenica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago have already become republics while Barbados has previously announced it intended to.  Jamaica's move is considered to be motivated by anti-slavery sentiment and a desire to distance itself from the colonial power and from final appeals to the Privy Council.  The decision by the new Jamaican Government will have to pass at referendum.

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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