Feb 16

Adamant about the Republic

In an interview given to Nine Media, Nova Peris speaks up about her confidence that Australia is ready to change. The first Aboriginal woman to be elected to federal parliament in the Senate; Olympic gold medallist in hockey as well as medal winner in international athletics says "we can't move forward as a nation until we reconcile the past and part of reconciling the past is knowing what you are reconciling." She doesn't want the Constitution to be changed to recognise our First Peoples. Instead, she says, "I want this country to become a republic. Press restart. You're trying to tell us how we should be recognised in your founding document when we've never been lost".  She maintains contact with country and describes her attachment to the land as spiritual. In her first speech to Parliament, she declared herself "a descendant of the Gija people of the East Kimberley and the Yarwuru people of the West Kimberley; also Iwatja from Western Arnhem Land through her father" while her mother was raised on the Tiwi Islands off the coast of the Northern Territory. ["NOVA Peris" by Kerrie O'Brien, Nine media, 16 February 2019]

Feb 4

Feuding and Familiarity

Meghan and Kate now officially don't get on with each other and are actively feuding. Women are never depicted as cooperative, tolerant or professional, they are always calcuating rivals, over what it's not clear. Nothing new here going back to Diana and Fergie and later Camilla and Kate as duelling consorts. But it keeps us interested and sells. Why is that, why are women so interested in and highly connected to the British royals? Dr Daniel Kruger, an evolutionary biologist from the University of Michigan is quoted as saying: "we hear about these people that we might never encounter in our lives but we still see them as part of our social world" and adds that the media can convince us that they are relevant to us because, in the past, most of the people that you had information about were important to your survival. "We are particularly susceptible to high-status people eg royalty and we pay attention to them because in the much smaller societies than those of today, they wielded power that could have had tangible consequences for us." Celebrity exposure must also play a part in convincing us that we are familiar with and like these people that we don't actually know at close quarters while we admire their glamour and their wardrobes. ["Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton 'feud' has a familiar script for royal watchers" by Yasmin Jeffery, ABC online, 4 February 2019)

 

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Jan 25

Honours System has Inherent Class Bias

Nicholas Gruen nails it when he says that honours and awards mostly go to people for doing their (already well paid) day jobs. What his article also neatly underscores(click on link below) is that there is a class structure inherent in the Australian, imperially approved, honours system ie the establishment people like judges and senior public servants, get the top gongs (for doing their jobs) while community members and volunteers get the lowest level awards. The structure of our honours system, although not the actual awards themselves, are approved by our Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II of England. When PM Abbott reintroduced the very unpopular knighthoods in 2014, he had to get the Head of State's approval while PM Turnbull had to get her approval to remove them again in late 2015. A truly Australian award system introduced under a Republic should be an improvement on this inequitable arrangement that favours certain groups in our society. ["We're awarding the Order of Australia to the wrong people", Nicholas Gruen, The Conversation online, 25 January 2019]

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Jan 23

Captain Cook and All That Followed

January is usually a time for raking over the coals on the Republic. So far, it's been quiet. This year, the annual Australia Day schisms have been overshadowed by disputes over James Cook's place in our history. Dr Benjamin T Jones' conclusions in this article interest us (click on link) about the current Government's obsession with and overfunding of the Cook voyage 250th anniversary coming up in 2020, not to mention various of its members' slim to non-existent grasp of the historical facts of British discovery and settlement. Jones states clearly: "Our nation has changed. Cook is no longer the national hero he once was, for the simple reason that Australians no longer see themselves as British, sharing in British achievements." This observation, with which WfaAR agrees, is exactly why the coming Republic will need to be presented to the nation by Indigenous leaders as well as State and Federal Parliaments to make sure that it represents all of us. That cannot take place until such time as Indigenous Recognition in the Constitution has been dealt with as well as creating a Voice to Parliaments as set out in the Uluru Statement. Australia Day can only ever mark the arrival of the British to set up a penal colony in NSW. It is not a grand national day of achievement and celebration, more an excuse for a long weekend, beer and BBQs. We understand why Indigenous people name it Invasion Day, the start of their dispossession and disadvantage. This must also be addressed by 21st century Australians in a serious and respectful way. ["Rough seas ahead: why the government's infatuation with James Cook may further divide the nation" by Benjamin T Jones, The Conversation online, 23 January 2019]

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Jan 17

The British Royals Are Not Like Us

Prince Philip, husband of our Head of State, is involved in a car accident near one of their large estates; in fact, he appears to have caused it. The next day an identical new car is delivered to the door, then he is seen driving without a seatbelt two days later. One of the injured people in the other car appears on television. After this, the Prince issues an apology - or more likely his PR people do - and he voluntarily surrenders his driving licence at 97 after the police decline to press charges. The British Royals are not like us.

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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