Dec 30

Then There's Cultural Cringe

Apart from a mish-mash national identity - or no national identity at all - we can't end the year without mentioning that old favourite 'cultural cringe' as captured neatly by AustraliaCulture blogger, Andrew Frost: The exhibition......"which opened in September, reminded us once more that cultural cringe never dies. The show's possible achievements were nothing compared with the voracious need of Australians to read bad reviews and revel in the 'I told you so' one-upmanship (sic) of Facebook and Twitter commentary. Every country has its fair share of crappy exhibitions but only in Australia do we take them as proof that we suck". What show was he writing about? The "Australia" exhibition, a 200 work survey of Australian art at The Royal Academy in London no less! ['Seven things we learned about Australian art in 2013' by Andrew Frost, The Guardian online, 30 December 2013]

More info >

Dec 17

National Identity is Masculine

Those seeking the route to the Republic by defining our national identity, would do well to pause and reflect on just how masculine that identity is. Two events from this year when "order as we know it" appeared to be restored - to great relief - serve as a timely reminder. Firstly, the removal of our first female Prime Minister in June by a man whose public persona had a friendly face, a soothing voice and breezy way of going about things. Secondly, national rejoicing in mid December over the winning back of the Ashes from the old enemy England whose monarch we share. The way that the victory was achieved, complete with threatening retro moustaches, is described by Professor David Rowe as "macho, malicious and merciless......a reborn 1970s cricket masculine archetype." WfaAR has to question why beating the Poms at cricket is still such an essential component of our confidence if Australia is already an independent nation with certainty about its culture and national identity, totally separated from the power of our coloniser? ["The Ashes: Australian masculinity reborn amid English tumult" by Professor David Rowe, Professor of Cultural Research at the University of Western Sydney, The Conversation online, 10 December 2013]

More info >

Dec 6

Operations of Governor-General's Office Remain Secret

The High Court (5 members including the Chief Justice) dismisses with costs an application that would require the Governor-General's Office to release documents about Order of Australia nominations (see News Updates of 16 August 2013 and 25 May 2012). The Office used its exemption under the FOI Act to refuse release by claiming the information sought was not "administrative" in nature. "Administrative" matters were defined by the Court to be concerned with the management and administration of resources or relating to the provision of logistical support. Details about how Order of Australia nominations are considered will remain secret. The Honours Secretariat, which administers the Order of Australia and bravery awards, was established as part of the Governor-General's office at Government House in Canberra when the Australian honours system was introduced in 1975. The Governor-General is the Chancellor of the Order of Australia.

More info >

Dec 1

Reminder about Valuing Democracy

It takes a foreigner to see this......Aung San Suu Kyi says Australians "lack passion for democratic processes and it needs to be reinvigorated. We're just starting out on the road which you take for granted." She also said, " A constitution has to be acceptable to the vast majority of the people of the land. They all have to feel that it is there to protect them and the make sure they are the equal of everybody else in the land". Very wise words for all Australians to ponder. [Reported in "Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi given honorary doctorate at Monash", Jacqui Peake, ABC online, 1 December 2013]

Nov 28

Prince George Birth Certificates in Queensland

In moves not seen since Joh Bjelke-Petersen was Premier, Queensland's conservative Liberal National Party Government elected in 2012 has its skates on when it comes to embracing the British monarchy. First, it passed its own Royal Succession law refusing to agree to a law in the national Parliament covering all the States. Then it reintroduced the title Queen's Counsel for senior barristers in mid 2013. Even more disappointing was that 70 of 73 SCs made the change. Now it offers, at no extra cost, birth certificates with decorations commemorating Prince George's birth to babies born in Queensland in 2013. This required royal approval. Van Badham made some good points about what and who is behind it all in The Guardian online, "A Prince George birth certificate for Aussie babies? It's political artistry" (click on link below).

More info >

Nov 27

Big Australian Stories need to be told

Mark Seymour (ex Hunters and Collectors), composer for and performer in new musical play, "Dust" (about asbestos) says "I'm interested in the big Australian stories. They need to be told."  On the other hand, Karl Van Dyke from Macquarie University reflects on national beliefs when discussing that the Romans believed themselves direct descendants of the Trojans and twins Romulus and Remus, suckled by a wolf in the hills around Rome, "There is no truth in national myths. We are what we think we are." ["Making Dust" Artscape, ABC TV1, 26 November 2013; Karl Van Dyke talk on "Roman Gardens" at the Australian National Botanic Gardens Canberra, 28 November 2013]

Nov 26

Governor-General shows what Head of State would do

National Convenor, Sarah Brasch's letter to The Canberra Times: "Good on the Governor-General.  At the end of her final Boyer lecture, Quentin Bryce doesn't call for a republic but foresees the progressive nation we all recognise.  She holds up a mirror to ourselves thus demonstrating one important role of a head of state.  The currently elected President of Ireland is a good example to follow in this respect.  By cutting away the choking vine, she lets the sun in so that the plants below can flourish and bloom." Published on 26 November with top billing on the Letters page.

Nov 23

VoteCompass Data on Republic Released

The glittering prize from the ABC's reporting of the Governor-General's Boyer lecture republic comment is the release of the VoteCompass results for the republic question. People were asked their opinion on this statement: "Australia should end the monarchy and become a republic." The data was gathered in the run-up to the 2013 federal election.  With 1.4m respondents, this is the most comprehensive data on factors influencing attitudes to the republic ever collected. It is dissected by age; education level; gender; ideology; income; industry; language; marriage status; level of interest in politics; religion; place of residence (rural or urban); State; voting intention.  As WfaAR has always contended: education level, income, place of residence and level of interest in political/civic matters outweighs gender considerations on this subject (see attachment) although the gender data still shows women's support to be lower than men's. We also note that across the board around 40% are currently in favour, about 20% neutral and approx 40% are against.  Counting only those Strongly Against running at about 25% overall, up to 75% are potential YES voters as we would expect, the Neutrals and Somewhat Disagrees likely to move in favour in a concerted education exercise before any vote. In all dissections, those Strongly For and Strongly Against outnumber those Somewhat in Favour and Somewhat Against.


More info >

Nov 22

Governor-General alludes to Republican Future

Quentin Bryce concludes her final Boyer lecture: "Advance Australia Fair", by saying she hopes Australia might become a nation where "people are free to love and marry whom they choose. And where perhaps, my friends, one day, one young girl or boy may even grow up to be our nation's first head of state".  The Governor-General is clear that she isn't head of state. Although this statement is seen as contentious in conservative circles, particularly with its muted republic reference, it is refreshing to hear commentary about the future of our country from a non-political source. The Prime Minister did not object to the statements claiming that the G-G is free to express her views close to the end of her term. 


Nov 11

British Royals not Listening to Australians in 1972

The National Archives of Australia, the repository of Commonwealth Government records, presents a copy of the Larrakia petition from its collection to the Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation.  Signed by hundreds of Indigenous people, the petition appealed to Queen Elizabeth II, now Queen of  Australia, to help Aboriginal people gain land rights and political representation.  It reads in part: "Today, we are refugees in the country of our ancestors. We live in refugee camps without land, without employment, without justice."  In October 1972, the Larrakia people tried to hand this petition to Princess Margaret while she was in Darwin. After waiting 24 hours to meet with the Princess and being ignored, they tried to break through a police barricade but failed. [NAA e-newsletter 'news@archives' November 2013]

Nov 3

Governor-General gives 2013 Boyer Lectures

Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, presents a new role for the vice-regal representative by giving the 2013 Boyer Lectures on the ABC, a prestige series of four talks, significant for their contribution to our social history, national identity and nomination of important future challenges for national contemplation.  Departing from the usual low profile and controlled role of the GG in her last five months in the job and although not speaking overtly politically, Ms Bryce has opted to cover public issues such as equal rights, the role of women in Australian society, violence against women, and the future of citizenship, thus pointing to areas for attention by government.  Labor appointed Governors-General have sought to expand the GG's role in recent times. The last to do so was Keating-appointed Sir William Deane 1996-2001 who spoke out about injustice towards Indigenous peoples and the need for Reconciliation. [Dates for Quentin Bryce's Boyer Lectures are 3, 10, 17 and 24 November at 12 noon on Radio National, repeated the following Tuesday at 8pm]

Nov 2

Woman Writer active in 1990s Republic Campaign

An obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald records that Myfanwy Gollan (1933-2013), partner of well-known public intellectual, republican and anti White Australia Policy activist Donald Horne, was a passionate campaigner in her own right.  Ms Gollan was an organiser of the Citizens for Democracy campaign from 1976 to 1983 and helped to design a travelling exhibition on the history of Australian democracy. When her husband was campaigning for the republic in the 1990s, she supported the cause by travelling the country to interview 16 people about why they were republicans. The interviews formed the basis of "The Coming Republic", published in 1992, for which she is listed as a contributor in her own right, if not correctly as co-author. ['Writer, editor helped foster national identity' by Julia Horne and Nick Horne, SMH, 2-3 November 2013]

Oct 27

Danish Royals do excellent Condoling Job

Crown Prince Frederick and, Australian-born, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark in jeans and runners (that went down very well) make a fine job of visiting people in the Blue Mountains affected by destructive bushfires in the last week.  It is very obvious that we don't need the British Royals to do this task.  The heir to the Australian throne, just shy of 65, now being groomed to be our King, sent a rallying message to firefighters in his far-flung realm but that came from London.  We don't even need them to do that given there is a locally engaged vice-regal representative to stand in. Besides, why didn't our Queen do it herself?

Oct 18

Queen of Australia Title Jars

In "The Stalking of Julia Gillard, how the Media and Team Rudd brought down the Prime Minister", Kerry-Anne Walsh writes when speaking of CHOGM in Perth in late 2011, "Strangely, Aussies love this woman with the jarring title Queen of Australia......" (p 93).  Jarring or not, it is legally and technically correct.  'This woman' is also technically our head of state - although she carries out no functions that role entails for our country - by virtue of Section 1 of the current Constitution. 

Oct 15

Everyone's Talking about Sovereignty

Suddenly, "sovereignty" is in vogue. PM Abbott is talking about Australia's sovereignty, Indonesia's sovereignty and we have Operation Sovereign Borders in place to keep out people seeking asylum by boat.  So Australia is making it pretty clear that we are our own country, making our own decisions, that we are supreme over our land by force of our own power/s.  Music to the ears of republicans - for why then do we admit a foreign power (the UK) to our own government, indeed to head it up? - and to our Indigenous Peoples who have campaigned for recognition of their sovereignty for years.  We should talk about this much more often.

Oct 11

Australia and the Monarchy from Overseas Perspective

Tanya Gold takes the institution of the British monarchy and its many members to (expensive) task in her Guardian article about the increasing amounts that it costs British taxpayers to keep them and the evasion that goes with it.  WfaAR also notes the unfavourable reports in the British media about local attitudes during Prince Harry's visit last week as highlighted in this article.  They think it colonially juvenile and immature.  We should take good note. [Nothing's changed - the royals still grow fatter each year at our expense by Tanya Gold, The Guardian UK, 11 October 2013]

More info >

Oct 8

Prince Harry's Visit Laid Bare

Really good article by Emma-Kate Symons in the AFR that exposes even more fawning over the royals on pointless and costly visits to Australia. Now, new PM Abbott ups the ante after Julia Gillard's terrible efforts during the Queen's visit in 2011 (speech of welcome in the Great Hall at Parliament House in Canberra) and that of Charles and Camilla for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012 ("crimson thread of kinship" speech at the unveiling of Queen Elizabeth Terrace in the Parliamentary Zone).  We're seeing far too many royal visits: three in the last three years, and far too much inappropriate behaviour towards them by our Prime Ministers. Read the article below [Sycophantic Monarchism Unbecoming of Australian PM by Emma-Kate Symons, Australian Financial Review, 8 October 2013]

More info >

Oct 4

British Royals still Presiding over Australia

Prince Harry's presence at the International Fleet Review only shows we have come full circle since 1988 when the current republican campaign kicked off as Malcolm Turnbull observed Charles and Diana officially overseeing the Bicentennary celebrations. Harry stood alongside the Governor-General who already does the job representing the Queen of Australia. PM Abbott dared to say that we all felt like monarchists before he swooshed Harry off on a VIP Fleet jet to Perth. No, we don't. And when are we going to stop fawning over the British royal family? Pointless regal visits initiated by the Federal Government, paid for by Australian taxes, are a reminder of where we stand in our quest to become The Great Republic of the Southern Seas as is the fact that we now get No 4 in line to our throne to do the business.

Sep 18

Queen of Australia Come-back at Ministry Swearing-in

The Queen (and God) was back with a vengeance at the swearing-in of the new Ministry in Canberra.  PM Abbott swore on the bible and took the oath of allegiance: "I will be faithful an bear true allegiance to Queen Elizabeth the Second, the Queen of Australia".  Of his 41 strong Ministry (only six women), 39 did likewise. The other two, one of whom was Senator Marise Payne (Liberal NSW and strong republican over many years), took the affirmation of office as both Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd did when they were sworn in as PM. Stephanie Peatling of the Sydney Morning Herald (also a regular writer on republican themes) included some useful information about this topic on her daily election blog:

"In 2007 when Kevin Rudd and his ministry were sworn in they all used a new oath: 'I [name] do swear that I will well and truly serve the Commonwealth of Australia, her land and her people, in the office of the [insert title].'

Until 1996 it had included the line - 'I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second'.

Before 1993, the oath had included a pledge to serve the Queen.  PM Paul Keating then removed any reference to the Queen between 1993 and 1996. When the Coalition assumed power in 1996, allegiance to the monarch was returned."

More info >

Sep 6

Final Pre-election Thoughts

Dame this and Lady (legal wife of Sir) that - will the Coalition reinstate knighthoods if they win on 7 September?  We are sure they would find this another compelling argument against gay marriage!  Very disappointing that the future of our constitutional monarchy and certain destiny as a Republic did not feature at all in what was presented to the electorate by the two major parties during the campaign  Neither has a vision for the future or the courage to see it through.  Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman, reinstated the QC title for the State's senior counsel on 7 June this year, with 70 of the 73 appointees taking up the offer. Meanwhile in New Zealand, the republic/monarchy debate has had quite an airing in the last couple of months and a parliamentary committee is examining their royal succession bill - we haven't got one of those either yet, coming up in next Parliament.

More info >

Download: Read our letter to The Canberra Times about reinstating knighthoods [45KB, pdf]

Aug 28

Republican Gift to England

The Guardian reports that a "literary barbeque" at Hammersmith UK is to kick off a May 2014 festival, "Journey to the edge of the world" -  highlighting works from and about Australia and New Zealand.  At the launch will be writers Eleanor Catton, Hannah Kent, Courtney Collins, Kathy Lette and host Stella Duffy. "The festival aims to span the contemporary and historical exploring: migration; Indigenous history and languages; colonial links; the centenary of WWI; food and culture; and literary adaptations." Useful republican fodder there.  Writer and republican, Thomas Keneally, added his enthusiasm," Dear England, We're going to send you a big present: our Australian and New Zealand writers, film and music makers.  It will all be like a series of loveable and brilliant personages emerging from a gift box and invigorating and charming you.  It's about time, we got round to startling you, and the moment approaches".  The next moment will be the Australian Republic. ["New Festival celebrates Aus/NZ literature and arts in London" by Anita Sethi, The Guardian, 28 August]

Aug 18

Useful Role for future Queen of Australia?

Comparing her with the unhappy Diana, a British journalist says this about the Duchess of Cambridge: "so normal and grounded that she makes the rest of us feel like dysfunctional freaks".  Presume that's women she's referring to, considered in the context of a particularly unhelpful role being performed by a future Queen of Australia twice removed and one that we in Oz can well do without.  ["Will her fans ever let go of their grip on Princess Diana?" by Cristina Odone, The Daily Telegraph, London, 18 August 2013]

Aug 17

Who was who in the LG Referendum NO case

WfaAR reports on Australians for Constitutional Monarchy's close links with the vociferous NO case against the Recognition of Local Government Referendum, now abandoned.  The company ACM keeps!  Seems they want to say NO to all proposals for constitutional change.  Read our piece published on Independent Australia online here:

Aug 16

Challenge to Secrecy of Governor-General's Records

Karen Kline from Brisbane is challenging a decision by the Governor-General's office and two courts not to release documents relating to the award of Australian honours.  The High Court has now agreed to hear an appeal against the Federal Court's decision.  During the leave application hearing, the Governor-General's lawyer told the High Court that specific exemption of the G-G's records from the FOI Act was in "the public interest" defined as necessary to "preserve the confidentiality of the G-G and the Crown". Note the similarity between this argument and the reason why the Queen of Australia's archive at Windsor Castle is not subject to either Australian or British FOI laws.  The High Court's consideration of this case is expected to be a comprehensive airing of executive decision-making processes later this year. ["Transparency Row over Australia Day Honours" by Jane Lee with Markus Mannheim, The Canberra Times, 17 August 2013]

More info >

Aug 8

Portraits of "People's Poet"

An exhibition of portraits of singer/songwriter Paul Kelly is underway at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.  Kelly's best known lyrics "From Little Things, Big Things Grow" is the famous story of Vincent Lingiari's persistence with British landowner, Lord Vestey, over rights to his traditional land in the Northern Territory, eventually won.  Three of the 19 images are taken by Sydney photographer, Wendy McDougall who works the arts, theatre and music industries.  Her work is also held in the National Library, State Library of NSW, Museum of Sydney and the Powerhouse Museum.  "Paul Kelly and The Portraits" is at NPG until 1 September.

Aug 4

End of Local Government Referendum - Good News for Republic Vote

Buried in the announcement of the 2013 federal election date, came the news that the Local Government recognition referendum was to be deferred.  So that was the end of that.  Good news for the Republic.  That means there is a triple bill of important issues to be put to the vote during the next term: recognition of Indigenous peoples (this is one legislated) and local government in the Constitution plus one or two plebiscites on the Republic.  We're ready!!

Jul 28

Final Word on Third in Line to Australian Throne

We thought very little of the media blitz, hype and ridiculous hoop-la.  Thankfully Prince George, third in line to the Australian throne has disappeared from public view for the foreseeable future.  He is unlikely to resurface as the head of our government - under section 1 of the current  Constitution - for about 70 years short of an abdication or two.  Someone must have known it was a boy because the Australian Royal Succession Bill is languishing and won't be passed in this Parliament (election called 4 August).  WfaAR wrote to The Canberra Times commenting on the pointless and vulgar obsession with the new baby - they didn't publish it so here it is.

Download: WfaAR comment on the baby [45KB, pdf]

Jul 22

WfaAR Now on Twitter @ozfemrepublic

We'll be tweeting regularly - follow us @ozfemrepublic

Jul 20

Right Royal Clanger

We're overdosing on Kate's baby and it hasn't even been born yet.  The Australian media has lost its senses not to mention analytical skills.  At least, on some local websites, the royal baby hype is properly listed under "Celebrity News".  The general population is not much better.  We wrote to The Canberra Times to protest about planned celebratory events in the national capital (celebrating what?  painful prolonging of the Australian royal dynasty?), some of them promoted by federal government agencies.

Download: Read our letter here [5KB, pdf]

Jun 25

PM knits a royal kangaroo

Photographs published in the print media today show the Prime Minister knitting a toy kangaroo for the heir to the heir to the heir to the Australian throne.  Cute but not a republican act.  The knitting spread will feature in the July edition of The Australian Women's Weekly.

Jun 17

Still Going on Queen Elizabeth Terrace

WfaAR is still not satisfied with responses from the Government about renaming part of Parkes Place in the Parliamentary Zone in Canberra as Queen Elizabeth Terrace to mark the Diamond Jubilee. So, we have written again for more answers and to find out who in the Government made the decision (see link below).  If you are wondering why we are pursuing nomenclature of roadways in the capital, there is no further to look than the changes made to names given by the Griffins, who always imagined Australia as a republic, to central and important Canberra streets.  Their names: "Federal", "State" and "Australia" were quickly changed to "Kings", "Dominion" and "Empire" by conservative bureaucrats own concerns that "the American's designations were incompatible with Australian sentiment".  The revised names were intended to evoke Australia's colonial past and imagined future.  Seems things haven't changed much in a century. [Information sourced from the exhibition: "The Dream of A Century, the Griffins in Australia's Capital" at the National Library of Australia to 10 June 2013]

Download: our letter to the Prime Minister [143KB, pdf]

Jun 12

Female Opinion on Constitutional Change

Kathryn Kelly of Chifley ACT writes to The Canberra Times about finding a third way to solve the problem of selecting a head of state to meet the objectives of both parliamentary appointment and direct election supporters.  While WfaAR doesn't  think this proposal will suit direct electionists because it isn't direct enough  - it takes selection away from the people who will only endorse the choice of the parliament - we are pleased to see a woman speaking in the public domain about the republic and constitutional change, and making suggestions for solving the head of state selection impasse.

Download: Kathryn's letter here [48KB, pdf]

Jun 10

Another Queen's Birthday Passes By

We couldn't let this one go without comment.  National Convenor, Sarah Brasch, is published in Independent Australia saying that before long it will be the King's Birthday as we dander about with the republic.  Click on the link below to read the full version and see the great cartoons!

More info >

Jun 5

Women on Stage at National Republican Lecture

Dr Clare Wright, television presenter and author of a new book about the women on the Ballarat goldfields (see News Update of 31 December 2012) and Associate Professor Natasha Cica, Director of the Inglis Clark Centre for Civil Society at the University of Tasmania, join headline act Peter Fitzsimons for the NRL at Monash University.  This is the first time since Julie Bishop's 2008 lecture that women have stood behind an NRL microphone.  It is about time a woman again gave the NRL in her own right.

Jun 3

Republic Triple Header for Coronation Anniversary

To add to the Project Republic launch, first book on the republic for quite a while, Professor Anne Twomey from the University of Sydney is the guest on Margaret Throsby's interview program (ABC Classic FM at talking about how the Queen intervenes in the business of Australian governments more than we ever imagine.  WfaAR has a letter published in The Canberra Times about the Union Jack crowning our national parliament. Despite it being the 60th anniversary of the Queen of Australia's coronation on 2 June, it was a republic sort of day in Oz.

Download: our letter here [4KB, pdf]

Jun 3

Men Only at Project Republic Launch

A new book of essays about the republic is launched at Parliament House in Canberra.  There was not a single woman speaking at the event that had a decidedly Anglo, middle-aged male, establishment feel about it.  The book has articles by only four women (Joy McCann; Larissa Behrendt; Erika K Smith and Helen Irving) out of 20 contributors; no women are quoted in the frontispiece although one Indigenous leader is.  The forewords were written by Malcolm Turnbull (Liberal) and Wayne Swan (Labor) to represent a bipartisan approach.  No sign of The Greens who have an strong track record on the republic following the gallant and persistent efforts of Bob Brown in the Senate. Current Greens leader, Christine Milne, would have been a very welcome addition to the event and to the book. Michelle Grattan previewed the launch for The Guardian and The Conversation online. ["Project Republic, Plans and Arguments for a New Australia", ed Benjamin T Jones and Mark McKenna, Black Inc, 2013]

Jun 2

NO Case for Local Government Referendum launches

One NO voice for the referendum, expect it to be an extremely loud one, will be run by a small posse of entirely predictable people: ex Liberal Ministers Peter Reith, Nick Minchin, ex Labor Minister turned academic Gary Johns plus Julian Leeser, anti Bill of Rights campaigner and member of the NO case committee in 1999 and Tim Wilson of Q&A/IPA - no women please, we're British - launches online against an in-your-face backdrop of the flag, well mainly the Union Jack part and the odd star.  They have started by bleating about the lack of government funding for the NO case even though they look pretty well funded already. We'll be watching this one closely. You can too.

More info >

May 24

Dance Work showcases Australian Democracy

 "Monument" is premiered by the Australian Ballet in Canberra as part of the national capital's centenary for just four performances. The work is based on the design principles for new Parliament House, opened in 1988, and reveals the awe-inspiring glory of "a building that exists as an enduring symbol of the tradition of organised democratic principles" to quote the choreographer, Garry Stewart. The backdrop features 3D animations of the design minus standard atop the famous flagpole.  Happily, in this representation, we are spared the sight of the Union Jack towering over our Commonwealth.

May 23

Vale Hazel Hawke

Hazel Hawke dies after a long and distinguished career in public life.  She was a dedicated republican who believed the UK monarch was not right for Australia.  She was elected to attend the 1998 Constitutional Convention as an ARM delegate for NSW. The ARM later used her as a face of the YES case, one of the very few women publicly promoting the republic before the referendum.  For more info about Hazel Hawke's role in the 1999 republic campaign, see Dr Glenn Davies' article on Independent Australia. 

More info >

May 17

Uni View in Sydney Morning Herald

Sera Yilmaz, Chair of the University of Western Sydney Republic Club, writes to the SMH to put her point of view.  She emphasises our maturity as a nation, says becoming a republic will not cause a revolution or demolish the Constitution and ends by noting that Britain and Australia are very different countries.

Download: Sera's letter here [46KB, pdf]

May 9

Local Government Referendum Announced

The Australian Government announces a referendum on recognition of local government in the Constitution to be held on the same day as the federal election on 14 September. Before the 2010 election, Labor foreshadowed three referendums: the Republic, recognition of Indigenous peoples and local government. Although attempts to get the Indigenous recognition referendum up failed due to lack of government leadership along with a solid dose of racism and resentment among voters, the Republic trails a very distant last and is the only topic to have received no attention during the term of this Government. That will be a haunting legacy of missed opportunity.

May 2

Queensland Royal Succession Law Passes

In one of the silliest disagreements between the Federal Government and a State, Queensland stuck to its guns and quickly passed its own royal succession laws (see 26 April news item).  State Attorney-General, Jarrod Bleijie, said history warranted such a move. "As the Queen of Queensland dispute of the mid 1970s shows, the Government takes very seriously both the state of Queensland's and the executive government's ability to maintain its direct connection to the sovereign".  But the State also compromised in its law and made a request to the Commonwealth to implement similar legislation. Federal Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, commented that the present Queensland Government was only echoing Joh Bjelke-Petersen's claims to have a direct relationship with the crown but that a Commonwealth law was necessary to give the changes proper effect and ensure consistency: "The Queensland Government is more than welcome to pass its own face-saving legislation, secure in the knowledge that it will have no practical effect".  The Queensland law was ridiculed by a number of female members of the State's parliament as it was passed.

Apr 26

Queensland Still Holding Out on Uniform Royal Succession Bill

The British bill cleared the House of Lords on 22 April but Queensland still wants to go it alone and pass its own legislation so that daughters cannot be displaced by younger sons in the line of succession, declining to refer its powers to the Australian Government to pass a law on behalf of all six Australian States and ensuring the same head of government in all parts of the country.  Even the Queensland Parliamentary Committee considering the State's bill queried the point of this move.  Why are we bothering with this nonsense?  Because the federal Constitution ties us to the British monarch as head of our government.  When laws relating to the succession over there are changed, then, over here, we have to make complementary changes so that a) the British law can take effect and b) we have the same head of government as the other 15 realms. The Australian Government says it will go ahead with federal legislation despite Queensland's objections and put it into parliament in May as time runs out before the election.

Apr 22

Abbott's Selection Criteria for Governor-General

In a backhanded swipe at the current Governor-General Quentin Bryce, Tony Abbott announces that "former military personnel and former judges by and large make the best vice regal representatives" (she is neither).  This was part of a spat with the Government over the appointment of the next GG.  Thank you Tony for giving us that male profile for a good Governor-General.  Both the PM and Abbott say that they will not change the arrangements for choosing the next GG due by March 2014.  The person can be chosen solely by the Prime Minister and the recommendation must be accepted by Queen of Australia.

Apr 21

New Women's Blog on the Constitution

Professor Helen Irving of the Law School at Sydney University has launched a new blog, "A Women's Constitution" for women's contributions to constitutional thinking and analysis. In her first post, she quotes Elizabeth Ward of New South Wales in 1897: " a nation with a constitution that does not reflect the interests of women as well as men 'will be one-sided, inharmonious and dwarfed.'" To find this blog, click on the link below.

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Apr 19

R Word Hits the Streets

The R word is abroad again but it's not Republic this time.  The new campaign for the recognition of our Indigenous peoples in the Constitution, building on the Youmeunity campaign that ran for the last few years, launches today.  R is for Recognise - a big red R on a black background.  Good to see the R word back whatever it stands for.  WfaAR strongly supports R for Recognise and R for Reconciliation as well as R for Republic. For more info about or to sign up for Recognise, click on the link below.

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Apr 4

Ever-Reliable Women's Weekly

The commemorative edition for 80 years of The Australian Women's Weekly contains many photos and snippets of the royals, not only the British ones.  In this pictorial record of women's social history in 20th century Australia, hardly a page goes by without a reference to or pictures of royals including several full-length glamour shots of QEII.  The section on the 1940s is titled "Fighting for King and country: patriotism and practicality" even though we were 40 years into the Federation by then and this was the catch cry for our participation in WWI as part of the British Empire!  By the 2000s, the Weekly proclaims "our own royal", that is Princess Mary of Denmark "although the British royal family continues to be of fascination".  When it comes to royals, the magazine has supplied a wholesome diet of regal allure and fashion over the years but not nearly enough critical analysis of what monarchy is really about and why it isn't right for our population of equals.

Mar 15

Referendum Recommended

The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government recommends a referendum at the same time as the next federal election.  Another glimmer of hope for a referendum after a very long (too long) drought.  The last one was the Republic Referendum in 1999!

Mar 8

Where's the Royal Succession Bill?

Our stable, constitutional monarchy isn't working properly.  This time, it's Queensland refusing to give up its direct constitutional links to the Crown and  not cooperating with the rest of the Federation in one piece of federal legislation to recognise the changes to British royal succession that would, at the very least, remove the sexism inherent in the current rules: male children succeed ahead of female children regardless of birth order.  The British are intent on fixing this before the next heir appears around July but the Australian squabblers can't get their act together.  Queensland has put its own legislation into State Parliament, no sign of the overarching change law.  We're now way behind Canada (31 Jan) and New Zealand (18 Feb) both of which have tabled their own (rather different) bills.  WfaAR wrote to The Canberra Times about this - see our letter to the editor below; published 15 March.  And in what has become very complex legal territory as ancient UK laws need to be amended and adapted by each realm, Professor Anne Twomey has put out two very good blogs recently to illustrate the debacle.  The upshot of all of this is that we need to put our own streamlined, modern system in place instead of sticking around with the Brits and the legal quagmire that brings

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Download: our letter here [55KB, pdf]

Mar 5

No Answers on Queen Elizabeth Terrace

WfaAR has had a reply from the Government that provided no answers to our questions and no information that we didn't already know.  This isn't satisfactory so we have written again inviting responses to our detailed questions - see News of 25 October 2012.

Download: our letter to the PM here [145KB, pdf]

Mar 1

Women's History Month - Mothers of Federation

This year Women's History Month features and celebrates Founding Women: Mothers of Federation.  For further information and events during March, see the WHM website that contains a gallery of outstanding women who were active in the development of federation and achieving the vote for all Australian women.  WHM recognises and honours Australian women who influenced the movement towards nationhood and the first Constitution of the federation.

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Feb 21

British Royal Female Bodies - How Hilary Mantel Lit Up the Media

In a speech given at the British Museum, Brooker Prize winning author Hilary Mantel, comments on the way that the British Monarchy suppresses and the media interprets its women: (glamorously) seen but not heard and largely unknown.  Athough her perceptive statements about "their Kate" were savagely criticised by all forms of the media and by the Prime Minister himself, sales of her books reportedly soared.  After a few days, more rational analysis prevailed including this one by Donna-Marie Bohan on  (25 Feb) at   WfaAR applauds Hilary Mantel as a woman who speaks her mind and expresses her own opinions in the public domain in whatever voice and form she chooses.  She is 100 percent correct about the British monarchy, reinforcing how unsuitable they are to provide the Australian monarch. Click on the link below to access Hilary Mantel's original article published in the London Review of Books.

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Feb 13

Act of Recognition Passes

After the failure of the proposal to hold a referendum to add Indigenous recognition to our Constitution, the Government succeeds in getting an act of recognition passed in the lower House on the fifth anniversity of the apology to the Stolen Generations.  The new Act commits the federal Government to hold the referendum within two years.  As a first step, a Joint Parliamentary Committee is being set up to consider the matter.  But the Act does not set out a process to get to a referendum or propose a Constitutional Convention so that Indigenous peoples - or anyone else - can discuss the questions to be put, criticisms made by WA Greens Senator, Rachel Siewert, when the bill was introduced in November 2012.

Feb 2

Nicola Roxon to leave Federal Parliament

WfaAR notes with regret that Nicola Roxon has resigned as federal Attorney-General and will return to the backbench before leaving Parliament at the next election due in September.  Ms Roxon is the most publicly enthusiastic republican in the Cabinet, if not among the parliamentary members of the  ALP, and her support will be greatly missed. See her comments as incoming Attorney-General, News, 12 December 2011.

Jan 30

Scottish Referendum Question Settled

The question has been changed from:  "Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?" to "Should Scotland be an independent country?" on the recommendation of the UK Electoral Commission.  Campaign funding has been doubled for the 16 weeks prior to the vote when campaigning will be allowed.  The referendum will be held in the northern autumn in 2014. At least they've got a date and a question.

Jan 26

Another Woman wins Republican Short Story Competition

Jennifer Morris from country Victoria was today announced as the winner of the Fourth National  Republican Short Story competition.  Women authors have a distinguished track record in this contest.

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Jan 25

Ausflag launches new flag design

As it customary around Australia Day, Ausflag launches another new flag design, this time based on the Southern Cross and the national sporting colours of green and gold.  Five of the sixteen directors of Ausflag are women - Anna Booth, Lesley Brydon, Janet Holmes a Court, Anne Keating and Lowitja O'Donoghue.  While this particular version lacks star power or the wow factor (WfaAR prefers a design based on the golden wattle and we'd like to see what female designers can do with that), a new flag is essential to getting the general public interested in the Republic so we welcome all proposals and ideas on this subject.

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Jan 23

Republican Anniversary - Charles Harpur

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of poet Charles Harpur. Along with John Dunmore Lang and Daniel Henry Deniehy, one of our most prominent 19th century male republicans.

Jan 22

New UK Succession Law Faces Hurdles

The new UK law changing the gender rule for royal succession was introduced into the House of Commons for fast-tracking through both Houses on 13 December 2012.  The Lords Constitution Committee cautions against speedy passage of the legislation saying that the issues raised require detailed consideration because of their complexity and the possibility of unintended consequences as a number of ancient laws will need to be amended, including one that was originally drafted in Norman French.  However, the contentious issues relate to the provisions that enable the monarch to marry a Catholic rather than those that change the order of succession giving female and male children equal rights to the throne regardless of birth order. The discriminatory elements of the British succession to be removed under the new law are: a) male children inheriting the the throne ahead of any female siblings; b) preventing the monarch or direct heir from marrying a Catholic and c) the requirement for all descendants of George II to obtain the monarch's permission to marry (now applying to several hundred people; this will be replaced with consent required for only the first six in line to the throne).  Concurrent legislative action in the 15 realms is being coordinated by New Zealand.

Jan 11

First Presidential Election in Czech Republic

The first vote for a directly elected President is held in the Czech Republic 11-12 January. Candidates required 50,000 signatures from citizens, or the support of 20 Deputies or 10 Senators. Nominations had to be submitted 66 days before the election for verification.Three of the nine candidates were women (each had more than 50,000 signatures); all the candidates were current or former politicans. Campaign funding was fixed and limited for each round, managed by an election committee for each candidate.  A second run-off was required 25-26 January, contested by two men.

Jan 9

Queen changes titles in advance of new succession law

Details of the Letters Patent signed by the Queen on 31 December 2012 decreeing that all children of the Duke of Cambridge (heir to the heir to the British throne) would be titled Prince or Princess are released in London. Before this change, only the eldest son would have been called Prince, daughters would have had the title of Lady. Issuing a Letters Patent allows the monarch to give orders without involving the UK Parliament or the realms. 

Jan 3

Queensland holds out on change to succession law

The Queensland Government has declined to give powers to the Federal Government to pass a single Australian law giving female and male children of our monarch equal rights to the Australian throne; the other five States agreed (COAG  7 Dec 2012).  If that isn't done, male children will continue to take precedence over females as Australian monarch regardless of birth order.  The succession law, mirroring the current UK law, is contained in covering clauses to the Constitution Act (UK) that sets out the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia.  Qld Premier Campbell Newman says that Queensland is a sovereign state and will pass its own legislation because it has a direct relationship with the Crown. As each Australian State has continued to have its own constitution since Federation in 1901, the issue of whether Australia has one Crown or seven remains unclear. (This is one of the technical legal issues at the core of the republic debate but is not crucial to individual voters' opinions about whether they favour a republic or not).  Canada, a federation with nine provinces, faces a similar issue in relation to the new UK law although it has, at least, repatriated its own Constitution from Britain. The new UK law is not intended to take effect until all 15 other realms have passed complementary legislation through their parliaments.  

The new UK law does not go far enough. All the children of the monarch should be assessed for their suitability to take the role regardless of gender or order of birth, with the most suitable one appointed to the job on merit. Even that doesn't sit very well with modern Australian notions of equality as would exist if we elected an Australian citizen as head of state rather than relying on a particular family to inherit the job, excluding all other citizens.

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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