Dec 25

Royal Christmas Night on ABC TV

Suddenly ABC TV has gone all British royal. Christmas Day programs have a distinctly regal feel about them. Evening ABC 1 started with the Queen's Christmas Message at 7.20pm, followed by the Royal Variety Performance presided over by Charles and Camilla, then two repeats of documentaries about our Head of State including "The Queen at 90".  A real overdose after plum pudding and enough to give one indigestion from too many crowns, jewels, expensive frocks and the like.

Dec 21

WfaAR Letter in The Canberra Times

There was a wide-ranging and extended response to the ARM dinner speech. Following one such article in The Canberra Times that called for an immediate referendum without any preliminary plebiscites, National Convenor Sarah Brasch, wrote to the paper to set out the facts - you can't have a referendum without spelling out what changes will be made to the Constitution and therein lies the conflict that needs to be resolved first - and involving all voters. The CTimes edited the text but the submitted letter is printed in full below.

Download: WfaAR Letter to The Canberra Times [6KB, pdf]

Dec 17

That Republic(an) Dinner

Guest speaker, PM Malcolm Turnbull at the ARM 25th Anniversary Dinner held in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney, looks hot as well as exhausted. Wearing a blue tie, he distances himself from todays republic(an) movement as fast as he can go. "You," he said to the well-heeled crowd in front of him, "have a lot of work to do" and he meant developing enough grassroots support to persuade his government that they should move on the Republic. More stalling tactics really. Best speech of the night was made by the Deputy ARM chair, Michelle Wood, who spoke plainly and put it to the PM that he had to support the movement and stay in the game for the longhaul. The efforts of two women were highlights of the event: Michelle as mentioned while life membership was bestowed on Allison Henry, long time ARM worker, campaigner and National Director 2003-2006. The latter was a very well deserved award.

Dec 7

Increased Number of Women on ARM's National Council

Direct election resulted in four women gaining membership of National Council for the next two years. They are Michelle Wood (NSW); Alice Crawford (Vic), Allison Henry (NSW) and Jessica Liddell (Vic) who will fill four of the 10 spots (the State and Territory convenors are automatically members of the NC). Together with Youth Convenor, Charlotte Barclay from the ACT, they make up 45.5 percent of the 11 elected members. Charlotte was the only female nominee for Youth Convenor out of five candidates. It was interesting to observe that seven women put themselves forward for the 10 positions out of a total of 27 candidates, so the success rate for female nominees was high; that a ticket of sorts operated for this election (for the first time) and eight of the ten elected were publicly supported by other candidates as part of a group. Most of those elected (and on the ticket) have close connections to the ALP, either currently or in the recent past as advisers or party officials. There were four nominees who appeared to have non Anglo-Celtic backgrounds with one elected - Jason Yat Sen Li who has had a high republican profile since 1998. The other person elected was Allison Henry who has a prominent ARM profile as a former National Director 2003-2006 and who has served on NC in several roles almost continuously since then. This election was also remarkable for the fact that two leaders of other republic groups stood - Peter Consandine from the Republican Party and Daniel White, Convenor of Labor for the Republic - but neither was successful.

Dec 4

Italy Turns In Negative Referendum Result

Italy's referendum on parliamentary and financial reform was overturned with an unexpectedly large majority - turnout 65.47 percent (non-compulsory voting) with 59.11 percent against and 40.89 in favour (overseas voters were 64.7 percent in favour). The result led to the immediate resignation of Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi. Some commentators saw it as a vote on the PM's popularity, others on membership of the EU. Another republic predicted to enter "a period of uncertainty".

Nov 30

No Sign of Barbados Republic

Nothing to report on Barbados Prime Minister's proposal from earlier in the year. But here is an interesting article from the CaribFlame where a people's parliament puts the proposition plainly and simply with a clear understanding of both the symbolism and unfinished business - click on link.

More info >

Nov 25

Lurking Just Below the Surface

As it always is. Front page cartoon of The Australian to illustrate the lead article on the recent pattern of predictable (and some say, unsuitable) choices for Australian of the Year. Over the barbeque, one punter says to another: "We have to change the way we select the Australian of the Year" and gets the reply: "Direct election or 2/3 parliamentary vote" followed by a swift rejoinder from the first speaker: "Never mind"........!!

Nov 8

Presidential Election Sparks Call for US Monarchy

The unruly, convention-breaking 2016 US presidential election - all 546 days of it - between two highly unpopular candidates selected as a result of people voting has led some to call for the US to become a hereditary monarchy. WfaAR comments: one swallow doesn't make a summer. Monarchies have had plenty of problems of their own in the last century, including poor candidates for an inherited job. If you have a commitment to democracy, then education about how it works; and individual responsibility and voting should be a priority. However, this article by Nikolai Tolstoy of the International Monarchist League in The New York Times is thought-provoking for anyone serious about the Australian Republic. Click on link below.

More info >

Oct 20

Second Go for Scottish Independence Vote

The Scottish Government isn't taking no for an answer and has published a draft bill for a second independence vote in response to the Brexit result (majority of Scots voters voted to Remain in the EU). First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced that she intends to hold a new poll only two years after the narrowly lost YES vote in 2014. The eight-page bill sets out rules for the campaign and conduct of the poll and how votes are to be counted. 16 and 17 year olds plus EU citizens in Scotland will be able to vote. ["Scottish independence: draft bill published on second referendum" by Libby Brooks, The Guardian online, 20 October 2016 - link below]

More info >

Oct 11

Plebiscite Abandoned

The same-sex marriage plebiscite was effectively canned when the ALP (with The Greens, Senator Hinch and the three NXT senators) decided not to vote for it. Thus, the Government does not have enough support in the Senate to get the enabling bill passed; so end of plebiscite. The final vote on the bill, defeated 29-33, was taken in the Senate on 7 November after further debate in the upper house. However, it was an educative exercise for republicans to see how legislation for a contemporary plebiscite would be framed. Attention now turns to the politically troubled, extremely complex and contentious Constitutional amendment on Indigenous recognition, with the Republic lagging a fair way behind, even further than recognition of local government in the Constitution. Things are getting a bit jittery about "the people's choices" after the Brexit result and with the possibility of a US presidential election debacle now imminent.

Sep 25

Royal Visit to Canada on Recycle

ABC deems it newsworthy to remind us that Kate and William plus heirs (both of them) in tow are now on their second visit to Canada. Thankfully, we do not get the minute-by-minute coverage of the Queen's very large extended family that prevails in Britain. But this reminds us that Oz will be next - and not too far off most likely. Royal inspections serve the useful purpose of reminding us of the British family to which we have closely hitched ourselves and show no concrete signs of dumping. Reports like this, straight out of the press releases, are also a reminder of how tightly managed and predictable these visits are - no doubt, as boring for the royals as they are for us. It would be highly desirable to see the ABC turn its journalistic talents to an in-depth examination of our first family: its role in and manipulation of the realms and how its extensive PR machine controls the public presentation of all members of the family and dictates public opinion towards the monarchy. It is, in fact, surprising that more effort isn't being put into Barbados given its Prime Minister has promised a republic by 30 November...... maybe they are not so bothered about Barbados? Good to see the Duchess of Cambridge referred to as Kate Middleton - well done ABC: much more egalitarian - and that some of the lesser quality women's mags in the supermarkets (not AWW of course) are starting to pick up on the trite international gossip sites that sensationalise alleged feuds between Camilla and Kate over who will be the next Queen of England.

More info >

Sep 15

Plebiscite Bill Tabled in Parliament

The Prime Minister himself tables the same-sex marriage plebiscite bill in the House of Representatives. The bill confirms the details that had been made public two days earlier (see News of 13 September) as well as some others: the result will be determined by the majority of votes for YES or NO minus the informals (we are yet to find out if writing anything on a ballot paper other than Yes or No will make it informal); surplus funds, including those donated to the YES and NO committees, will be transferred to the DisabilityCare Australia Fund Special Account - this seems to be fashionable after the proposed Medicare co-payment was to be put into the Medical Research Fund. No text or automated phone messages will be allowed, much to everyone's relief. The 35 page bill borrows heavily from the lengthy Referendums Machinery Act so the vote will be complete with postal and pre-poll voting and other referendum add-ons, thus requiring a 48 page explanatory memorandum! No effort has been spared to get everyone to vote given it's compulsory at a cost of $170m, to which the PM commented "What price democracy?" and left it at that (we agree). Labor has heavily hinted that it will not support the bill on the basis of public funding of the YES and NO cases; its potentially divisive nature and exclusion of those affected; the unusual nature of the vote on a matter that would be ordinarily be decided by Parliament and its cost. On the other hand, we still don't know what legislative changes the Government intends to table and when, if the vote gets up as would be known ahead of a referendum to change the Constitution. This includes potential amendment of the Sex Discrimination Act to protect businesses/individuals who refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings.

Sep 14

Our Head of State Requested Australian Knighthood for Husband

According to Chris Mitchell's new book - he being the former editor of The Australian newspaper - Tony Abbott told him that the Queen 'had made it known' (to the then Prime Minister whose honours system it was) that she wished for Prince Phillip to receive a knighthood because he had received few honours from our country. If so, our head of state in distant England, who supposedly plays next to no part in the conduct of our Government, must have been mortified to find this information publicly circulating in her most republic-leaning realm.There was no comment from London including about conflict of interest or secret lobbying of HM's own PM for personal gain. The fact is that the Queen spends a lot of time awarding members of her family and court personal honours (see, for instance, Wikipedia entry on the Order of the Bath). This is a compelling reason why we should unburden ourselves of the monarchy and its archaic, self-interested, incestuous practices that sit so uncomfortably with a modern, unfettered, classless nation like Australia. We're done with queens, kings, fealty and all that goes with it. ["Tony Abbott said Queen wanted knighthood for Prince Phillip according to Chris Mitchell's book" by Renee Viellaris, The Courier-Mail, 15 September 2016 - link below]

More info >

Sep 13

Process for February 2017 Plebiscite

What we know so far. The question for the 11 February 2017 poll is: "Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?" (appears straightforward). Voting will be compulsory  - compared with voluntary voting for the three-choice 1977 vote on the national anthem, the last plebisite conducted; result will be by simple majority; there will be oversight (unpecified) of robocalls and SMS. If YES gets up, the Government says it will introduce legislation to amend the Marriage Act but there is no Government guarantee that it will pass.There will also be $7.5m for each of the YES and NO cases (same as for the Republic referendum in 1999, hasn't been indexed - this isn't much funding and isn't going to go very far). Each case will have a 10 member committee, chaired by a Government MP, to decide how the money will be spent consisting of five MPs and five members of the public.The bill is expected to be introduced into the House of Representatives this week.

Sep 12

Republic About Belonging

In an interview on ABC Classic FM radio, composer Deborah Cheetham describes the main theme of her opera "Pecan Summer" as 'belonging'. She says that this is a key element in all her work which focuses on Indigenous people and their struggles for recognition. WfaAR comments:  Everyone wants to belong to something bigger than themselves. This is also a key theme among groups of contemporary Australians who feel lost but still search for a national identity while wondering if they recognise the society that they now find themselves in. Becoming a Republic is an important step is providing a sense of unity among people of many different backgrounds who have come to our country since 1788 joining with our First Peoples: their heritage going back 60,000 years is also our heritage.

Aug 1

WfaAR Concerned about Conduct of Plebiscite

After the Government took a policy to the July election to hold a plebiscite on same-sex marriage, lobbying has increased about the form that the vote will take with the Prime Minister and various of his Ministers making statements about how it will be conducted, mostly to say that it will be along the lines of a referendum without providing much detail. As this could be a forerunner to any plebiscite conducted on the Republic, this is a key issue for campaigners. So, we wrote to the Prime Minister to set out our opinion on any Yes/No question, how the question might be framed and about the undesirability of a high hurdle proposed by the PM of a majority vote in four States ahead of legislation being brought into the Parliament. The text of WfaAR's letter can be read on link below.

Download: WfaAR Letter to Prime Minister About Plebiscite [55KB, pdf]

Jul 26

Republic More Important than Next Plebiscite

WfaAR strongly disagrees with the comments of Lyle Sheldon, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, as reported in the media: "This is a bigger decision than the republic because it's redefining marriage and families...this is a bigger decision than merely a ceremonial head of state".  At the time, Sheldon was arguing for public funding of the YES and NO Cases. However, we have news for him. Australians have been redefining marriage and families for years now without needing a plebiscite and.... the Republic is much more fundamental change to our system of government than just having a ceremonial head of state. ACL should bone up on the technicalities of an Australian Republic before indulging in any more throw-away lines.["Taxpayers may foot bill for campaigns" by Stephanie Peatling, Fairfax, 26 July 2016]. In fact, we'd go as far as to say that this extremely rare plebiscite is a waste of a process and everyone's time and that it should be on the Republic instead.

Jul 22

ARM Women's Network Launches in Sydney

ARM launches a new Women's Network after it found that the vast majority of new members in the last 18 months were male. Special guests at the $150 a head lunch were Marina Go, General Manager of Bauer/Hearst Media, Chair of Wests Tigers and Belinda Hutchinson, Chancellor of Sydney University. The function was attended by around 90 people. ARM intends to form a similar network in each State. Next cab off the rank was Tasmania where a lunch for 40 women was held at Parliament House, Hobart in late August. More events are planned for 2017.

Jul 6

Brexit to Increase Ties between Australia and Britain?

As things begin to shake out after the Brexit vote in the UK, WfaAR recalls Boris Johnson's visit to Australia in 2014 during which he encouraged much closer ties between the two countries. One of his reasons was because we share the same head of state. We hope that our newly elected conservative government will not rush to reinforce "British" connections with the UK on this basis. This will require constant vigilance in the next couple of years, including on the role of the Commonwealth, if there is tendency to retain or strengthen these ties rather than remove them as essentially implied by the concept of an Australian Republic.

Jul 2

New Republican Line-Up on Capital Hill

The double-dissolution election brought a substantial number of newly elected federal parliamentarians. ARM had launched a republic register of candidates during the election campaign and this has been updated to reflect the results. The current state of the Parliament is: House of Reps (148 members): Republican (63 / 42 percent); Monarchist (10 / 6.7 percent); Undeclared/Undecided (77 / 51.3 percent) and Senate (76 members): Republican (34 / 44.7 percent); Monarchist (12 / 15.8 percent); Undecided/Undeclared (30 / 39.5 percent).

The State, House and Party breakdown of female republicans is:

NSW: total 59 seats, 21 held by women (of which 9 support the republic): Sharon Claydon (ALP Newcastle), Justine Elliot (ALP Richmond), Sharon Bird (ALP Cunningham), Linda Burney (ALP Barton), Tanya Plibersek (ALP Sydney); Senators Jenny McAllister (ALP), Deborah O'Neill (ALP), Marise Payne (LP), Lee Rhiannon (Greens)

Vic: 49 total, 14 women (10): Lisa Chesters (ALP Bendigo), Joanne Ryan (ALP Lalor), Jenny Macklin (ALP Jagajaga), Clare O'Neill (ALP Hotham), Catherine King (ALP Ballarat), Maria Vamvakinou (ALP Calwell), Sarah Henderson (LP Corangamite), Kelly O'Dwyer (LP Higgins); Senators Jacinta Collins (ALP), Janet Rice (Greens)

Qld : 42 total, 9 women (3): Terri Butler (ALP Griffith); Senators Claire Moore (ALP), Larissa Waters (Greens)

WA : 28 total, 10 women (5): Madeleine King (ALP Brand), Anne Aly (ALP Cowan), Julie Bishop (LP Curtin), Senators Sue Lines (ALP), Rachel Siewert (Greens)

SA : 23 total, 8 women (4): Kate Ellis (ALP Adelaide), Amanda Rishworth (ALP Kingston); Senators Penny Wong (ALP), Sarah Hanson-Young (Greens)

Tas :17 total, 8 women (5): Julie Collins (ALP Franklin); Senators Anne Urquhart (ALP), Carol Brown (ALP), Lisa Singh (ALP), Catryna Bilyk (ALP)

ACT: 4 total, 2 women (2): Gai Brodtmann (ALP Canberra); Senator Katy Gallagher (ALP)

NT: 4 total , 1 woman (0)

That's more than 50 percent of women members from Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and the ACT with the highest support among women members recorded in Victoria (71.4 percent) and the ACT (100 percent). There is more support among Labor and Greens women members in general with a noticeably low percentage of both female members and female republicans in Queensland and the NT.

More info >

Jun 26

ARM has Blood Rush on Brexit

ARM got a bit carried away with the Brexit result declaring that it heralded a new dawn for the Republic that would be a shoo-in because the British people had voted for 'independence' - and so should we ie from them. Well, they didn't vote to get rid of the monarchy so WfaAR can't see what the Brexit vote has to do with Australia becoming a Republic. Our situation is not at all similar to the UK where one sixth of current laws emanate from legislation passed by the European Parliament. A press release was issued and chair, Peter Fitzsimons, bruited the fabulous implications from his column in the Sydney Morning Herald. WfaAR told ARM that we didn't agree with them.

Jun 23

Brexit Vote Keeps British Monarchy in Place

The final Brexit vote was 52/48, not 55/45 but still close, turnout (non compulsory) was 72 percent. The interesting thing was that the proposition to Remain  - assumed to be the majority position - went down in a clear anti-Government, anti-austerity, anti-Prime Minister and anti-uncontrolled immigration vote. Many lessons here for plebiscite wannabes ie you can't just assume that voters are concentrating on the proposition itself, many other contemporary political and personal factors come into play. This was also evident in the NZ flag referendum.

Jun 13

Greens Announce Republic Referendum in 2019

During the federal election campaign, the Greens announce a new proposal for a network of citizens' forums to help formulate a threshold question on whether we should become a Republic.  If that vote was successful, a national convention would work on a constitutional model to be put to the people at a referendum in 2019.  This contrasts with our pro-republic Prime Minister's stance that has moved through four distinct stages since 2007. Firstly, "not until the Queen dies", secondly " the pressure to change has to come from the grassroots" (mid 2015), thirdly: "the country has more important priorities" (Australia Day 2016) and finally: "we can only run another referendum when we are sure we can win" (election campaign June 2016). It's not encouraging and always shifting the onus away from federal politicians to take any initiative, leadership or responsibility, the same-sex marriage plebiscite being instructive in this respect.

More info >

Jun 3

Brexit May Indirectly Result in Australian Republic?

With the UK referendum on 23 June to stay in or leave the EU, speculation mounts that if the British choose to leave the EU, the unity of the kingdom could be threatened, leaving England and Wales to go it alone. There is renewed interest in pro-EU Scotland wanting another independence referendum quickly and this is being talked up by Scottish politicians in both the British and Scottish parliaments. Unity of northern and southern Ireland is also on the cards (Eire currently a member of the EU). Some commentators think it could foreshadow a break-up of the Commonwealth, hastening republic votes in both Australia and Canada especially when Charles takes the throne. WfaAR comments: what this shows is that unexpected external events could have a significant impact on our progress towards becoming a republic for reasons entirely out of our hands. We wonder if it will be another 45/55 one way or the other? The attached link from The Independent summarises the possibilities. ["A Brexit would break up Britain - and dismantle the Commonwealth too" by Andrew Dewson, Independent online, 31 May 2016]

More info >

May 1

New Slant on Questions in Women's Weekly Monarchy/Republic Poll

The Australian Women's Weekly treats its readers to a special spread for the Queen's now long life on and off the Australian throne in the May print edition. The front cover features three generations of the most popular royals - QEII plus William holding the infant George, no sign of Charles and Camilla. Of particular interest is the AWM's venture into polling and a different slant on the monarchy/republic questions. There are four celebrity commentators: Deborah Hutton is a fan of the Queen but doesn't want Charles to be monarch; June Dally-Watkins thought the head of state task should pass to William next; Ita Buttrose supports a republic on the Queen's death while Kathy Lette says meritocracy is more important than aristocracy in an egalitarian country, another way of saying she's for a Republic.

The Omnipoll survey commissioned by the AWW was conducted among women and men, 1222 respondents aged over 18, 18-23 February 2016 with sample quota sizes for each state, city and regional area, by gender and age.

To the question: "Do you want Australia to become a republic and therefore lose Queen Elizabeth as our Head of State", total Yes was 35 percent (29 percent women, 42 percent men) and total No, 39 percent (43 percent women, 35 percent men); Don't Know 26 percent. Of those agreeing: 45 percent thought that the monarchy was outdated; 42 percent were proud to be Australian; 8 percent thought the monarchy too expensive, none of these 5 percent. Of the Noes, 57 percent thought that ties to Australia's British past are part of who we are; 24 percent couldn't imagine an Australian who would be suitable to be head of state; 9 percent thought the Queen did a great job and 10 percent thought none of those reasons were important. WfaAR comment: Yes/No vote is surprisingly low although the gender dissection is consistent.

To the second question: "Would you be happy for Prince Charles to become our King and Head of State", total Yes was 25 percent (24 percent women, 27 percent men) and total No, 48 percent (46 percent women, 49 percent men); Don't Know 27 percent. Of the Noes, 47 percent thought that after the Queen, it's time to cut ties with the monarchy; 30 percent don't want Camilla as Queen of Australia; 5 percent thought he lived too far away and for 18 percent, none of these reasons were important. The sub-reasons for Yes were a) he has a special relationship with Australia (33 percent); b) thought he would do a great job (31 percent); c) his charities support Australian issues (11 percent); d) none of these reasons important (25 percent). WfaAR: this is consistent with polling about Charles as Head of State ie big swing against.

AWW leads its article by saying that while all State and Territory leaders support a republic, "the Australian people beg to differ" and ends by referring to John Howard "who many feel secured a win for the royals in 1999" and his verdict that "the Palace will respect our decision unreservedly". All in all, a fair and informed article from the Weekly.

Apr 18

Senator Dares to Criticise Governor-General in Parliament

After criticising the Governor-General in the Parliament, Senator Stephen Conroy (ALP Vic) brings down an avalanche of criticism on his head for "reflecting on the G-G" including by leaders of his own party. While his argument did not make much sense, just about everyone thought that there should be no criticism of the G-G in Parliament because he is above party politics. Apparently, this is a rule of the federal Parliament. This seems odd to WfaAR because there is criticism of the Queen and the G-G in the media and online for all sorts of reasons and in comedy (noticeably more and more pointedly of the Queen and the Royal Family in Britain than here). We seem to be becoming increasingly reverential (conservative) about the Head of State and the G-G complete with knighthood. Marius Benson made some pertinent observations, click on link below. ["Antiquated parliamentary rules are a poor reflection on our democracy" by Marius Benson, The Drum, ABC online opinion, 19 April 2016]

More info >

Apr 14

WfaAR Speaks for Commonsense in Melbourne

Judith Brooks, one of our Victorian members, speaks at a dinner organised by Labor for an Australian Republic in Melbourne. She injected some passion and commonsense into the menu of ideas about how to move forward. Women republicans focus on the best way to get through the plebiscites and referendums - and engage voters. They do not get themselves snared in the debates on the myriad ways/methods to select the head of state. This has been the case for years now.

Apr 12

New Five Dollar Note: Fizza

Apart from having tactile features to assist people with sight problems, an unattractive new design for five dollar note is released. A significant opportunity is missed by the Government, led by a republican Prime Minister, to remove the portrait of the foreign Head of State. A small symbolic step but an important one. QEII has been absent from this note before - she was missing from the Centenary of Federation fiver - before being reinstated. Incidentally, Canada is rumoured to be on the verge of removing the Queen from its 20 dollar note to make way for a Canadian woman. Speaking of money, the Aussie coins to commemorate the 50th anniversary of decimal currency feature a Queen's head on the obverse so small, it's almost microscopic. A change of sorts, WfaAR contends.

Apr 1

Canadians Reject Citizenship Pledge to Foreign Head of State

An increasing number of new Canadians are rejecting their oath to the Queen of Canada: “be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors” at citizenship ceremonies. The matter has been also pursued in the Canadian courts for several years. A decision of the Ontario Court in 2014 gave new citizens the right to disavow these words of the citizenship oath after it has been taken. Read about this interesting account of active citizenship on the  link below. ["Royal rejection: naturalised Canadians recant oath of allegiance to Queen" by Ashifa Kassam, The Guardian online, 1 April 2016]

More info >

Mar 30

NZ Flag Refendum Fails

The New Zealand Electoral Commission releases the official result of the second of the two referendums for a new flag design conducted 3-24 March (see also News of 15 December 2015 for the first referendum result). The silver fern gained 921,876 votes (43.2 percent) in the run-off against the original design that garnered 1,208,702 votes (56.6 percent). As this is a binding result, the old design is retained (shame, it came right in the middle of the New Zealand's strong run at the World 2020 Cricket Cup). The informal vote was 0.2 percent (5044 votes) and there were 5,273 invalids. Turnout was 67.8 percent, almost 20 percent higher than in the first vote. Once again, we see a 45/55 vote on constitutional/symbolic change after the Australian republic (1999) and Scottish independence (2014) ballots which shows how hard it is to get these sort of votes over the line when both Yes and No are stuck  in the middle of the spectrum. The New Zealand result was also affected by the challenger being only the second most popular design in the first referendum - it got over the line on preferences - and some disquiet about the design selection method resulting in another design being added after a social media campaign. Another strategic mistake was to allow a second referendum against the old design instead of between the two most preferred new designs. Political leadership needs to be strong and definitive giving the nay-sayers no room to move - either vote for the new or vote informal!

Feb 27

"Clean for the Queen" Campaign Hits Snags

The official "Clean for the Queen" campaign 4-6 March, in which citizens were encouraged to tidy-up Britain for our monarch's 90th birthday, might have had establishment support but it didn't go down well on social media. Thankfully, we didn't do that here either for the 90th or when she last visited in late 2011 probably because civic- and environmentally-minded Australia has its own national clean-up day in early March every year not connected with the head of state.

More info >

Feb 20

How Will the Proposed Republic Votes Work?

A puzzled Canberra Times reader asked why there would be non-binding votes when the Constitution requires a s.128 referendum to change it. This is what the Editor published from our National Convenor in reply:

"Replying to Letters 16 February, the first stage of voting on the Republic is proposed to be a non-binding poll (a plebiscite) not a referendum.

Our view is that only one yes/no plebiscite, lacking sufficient detail to make a confident decision, would be a rerun of the 1999 referendum and about as successful. We have made this clear to both the Australian Republican Movement and to the Labor Party.

We think two plebiscites - possibly more - canvassing, for example, voters' opinions on the name of the country, the title of the head of state and the selection method for the head of state are necessary before the final constitutional convention and, last step, referendum. Women, whose support runs consistently 10 percent lower than that of men, are more likely to vote YES this way."

 

 

Feb 16

Another Poll on Republic

Men's support for the Republic still outscores women's 48 percent to 37, consistent and persistent. That's the finding of the latest Fairfax-IPSOS poll 11-13 February 2016. City dwellers are ahead of regional and rural, 45 percent to 37 (that's a lift) while ALP supporters at 56 percent and Greens at 59 percent are well ahead of Coalition voters at 32 (surprising). The random sample of landline and mobile numbers was 1403. Note to pollsters and journalists: being a republic and having an Australian head of state are not the same thing. Primrose Riordan's report in the Australian Financial Review is on link below ["Australia Day Republic Push Fails to Move Voters" by Primrose Riordan, AFR, 15 February 2016]. Interesting to see both Newspoll and fairfax-IPSOS testing the pulse on republic support so soon after the noisy Australia Day flurry.

More info >

Feb 15

Indigenous Australia and the Republic Have Same Objectives

Natalie Cromb says proper self-determination cannot be achieved while the country remains a constitutional monarchy and advocates for an Aboriginal Head of State. She links this idea to the Republic thus: "An Australian Republic would be our opportunity to create our own independent system of government that is a means of representation for all Australians, not just those privileged enough to work what is now a patriarchal system of whiteness."

She continues: "A Republic, together with Treaties for Indigenous self-determination, will be the critical turning point in creating a positive national identity. The Republic and Treaty campaigns are aligned in many respects, but our goal on one overarching theme is simply that we want to have a country we can be proud of – one where we are moving in the same direction – together." ["Indigenous Australia and an Australian Republic: Moving in the same direction" by Natalie Cromb, Independent Australia online 15 February 2016]

Read Natalie's article on the link below

More info >

Feb 5

Latest Republic Poll

The latest Newspoll on the republic is published in The Australian with a dissection by gender.  To the question, "Are you personally in favour or against Australia becoming a Republic", 45 percent of women were in favour (compared with 57 percent of men), 39 percent were against (compared with 34 percent) and 16 percent of women were uncommitted (compared with 9 percent).  This is a better question than the usual polling as it does not refer to the monarchy or the Queen. Poll conducted all States, city and country 28 to 31 January 2016 with 1837 interviews and maximum sampling error of 3 percent.

Jan 29

We Should Become a Republic Immediately

That's Rosemary Walters' opinion after a flurry of noise put the Republic on the front pages for a couple of days. So, she wrote to The Canberra Times. Her published letter followed that of a man - with top billing and the headline - who said that the clamour for the Republic marked the end of the news silly season and was a distraction from discussing more pressing issues that have far higher priority eg the economy and federal government stability (?) although he did suggest that enthusiasts ('ersatz nationalists') could put their energies into changing the flag. 

Download: Read Rosemary's letter here [45KB, pdf]

Jan 26

Republic Starburst in Blaze of Oz/Invasion Day Fireworks

It was on for young and old on Australia Day. Suddenly everyone was talking Republic but we'll see how long this lasts. Was this the only diversion left? At least, it is better than last years Australia Day clanger of knighting Prince Philip that went down like a lead balloon. One unexpected shot in the arm was the choice of former Chief of Army, General David Morrison, a gender diversity and equality campaigner, as Australian of the Year. Morrison said that he also intended to talk up the Republic. ARM had gotten all the Premiers, bar Colin Barnett of WA, and Chief Ministers to sign up to a Republic with nice messages from the Labor ones and only a moniker from the Liberal ones - good, but only as far as it goes. That's the easy bit; moving on from there will be much harder. In among all of this, a campaign was launched today to put Fred Hollows on the five dollar note to replace Parliament House. Wrong, he - or preferably a she - should displace the Queen as we did for the Centenary of Federation Year in 2000. We liked Jo Thornely's take on all of this. She thinks we should be a republic but it requires so much effort to get there. ["Citizens of Australia, can you really be bothered with this whole republic business?" by Jo Thornely, 25 January 2016 on news.com.au]

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Jan 25

Republic to Benefit First Peoples

Professor Jakelin Troy, Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research at the University of Sydney, is in favour of a renewed campaign for the Republic but says it must to recognise the sovereignty of the country's First Peoples. "Any new system of government should correctly recognise that Aboriginal Australians initially owned the country. A republic should include more Indigenous representation in our parliaments accompanied by a set of rights equivalent to treaty rights enshrined in law so that Aboriginal people don't have to keep fighting." She also foreshadows that there could be an Aboriginal Head of State at some stage. ["An Australian Republic 'could benefit Aborigines' " by Carolyn Conlan, Al Jazeera online, 25 January 2016]. Read the full interview below.

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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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