Jun 15

Problems with the Australian Honours System

The Australian honours system is based on chivralic heraldry - with upper and lower ranks - following the template of imperial UK honours and endorsed by our Head of State herself.  In this system, the contributions of some awardees are deemed to be more important than those of others; some high ranks are awarded as a matter of course eg to former Prime Ministers or those taking on the roles of State Governors who from 2013 to 2015 were given knighthoods or became dames. Volunteers almost always appear in the lowest and most common rank, the Order of Australia Medal, OAM. Jenna Price has nailed it in this article (linked below). Her conclusion that the honours system needs an overhaul when we become a Republic is spot on because it will then no longer be fit for purpose. ["Honours System needs a Rethink" by Jenna Price, Nine media online 14 June 2021]

More info >

Jun 14

Congratulations Professor Anne Twomey

While WfaAR thinks there are significant issues with the current Australian honours system, we were pleased to see Professor Anne Twomey of the University of Sydney recognised for her work in constitutional law. She is a frequent contributor to republican debate - as well as adviser to monarchists - about the Constitution. Her analyses are clear and clinical; her input always pertinent. Her book, "The Chameleon Crown", was an eye-opener on the relationship between the Queen (British monarch as our Head of State) and her Australian Governor-Generals, Prime Ministers and State Premiers, particularly the latter. Professor Twomey was a welcome calm and calming influence on the increasing maelstrom being whipped up around the release of the so-called Palace Letters in mid 2020 with her sage and sensible words based on fact and interpretation of the law. She is often quoted on this website  - without ever having revealed if she supports a Republic or not.

Jun 11

Brits Voice Concerns about Honours System

The British have got there before us. For different reasons from Australians - who don't seem to put much thought into what their honours system is about - and mainly to do with the concept of Empire and what that meant for the colonised. There appears to be increasing unease among British people of non-Anglo descent about what the awards they are offered stand for particularly as they are titled eg OBE, Order of the British Empire, long unchanged. An article from The Guardian on this topic is linked below. The British system is an imperial system of awards based on the ranks of chivalry and serves as a template for the Australian honours system. ["New calls to replace 'empire' with 'excellence' in UK honours system" by Robert Booth, The Guardian online 11 June 2021]

More info >

May 2

Submission to Indigenous Voice Co-design Consultation

 WfaAR's submission to the consultation process for The Voice Co-design process is attached below. We support The Voice being enshrined in the Constitution as a necessary precursor to any vote on the Republic so the whole country can come together and make this change with everyone equally part of and participating in the process. This is business that must be concluded before decisions about a new form of government for the country are attempted. We also have concerns about the process chosen to flesh out The Voice: settling details about possible "models" (that word is enough to make our hearts quake in anticipation) before implementation because they bear a striking similarity to the many options on offer for establishing a head of state, however selected. Therein is the detail and therein are choices easily lending themselves entrenched disagreements, a NO case and a NO vote - quite apart from the essential disputation over whether The Voice should be legislated or enshrined in the Constitution in the first place.

Download: Submission to Co-design Voice Stage 2 Consultation [183KB, pdf]

Feb 8

Our Head of State Intervenes in UK Laws

 The UK media reveals that our Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II, has the power to intervene in draft bills before they are tabled in the UK Parliament. This is known as "Queen's Consent".  She is able to suggest drafting changes to bills affecting Crown property or any other matters that affect her. The same powers are held by the Prince of Wales. A couple of days later, it was revealed in the UK Guardian that the Queen has declined giving her consent to over 1,000 bills including one in 1973 ensuring that her private wealth was not disclosed. This also applies to laws due to be tabled in the Canadian Parliament but not in Australia or New Zealand. However, her Australian representative, the Governor-General, can withhold royal assent and refer laws approved by the Australian Parliament to the Queen if she or he wishes. The Queen has the power to disallow Australian laws within one year under s.59 of our Constitution (has not been used to date) but this section has not been repealed. s.58 allows the Governor-General to reserve a law "for the Queen's pleasure" that cannot become law unless it receives assent from the Queen within two years.

An up-to-date entry in Wikipedia  on "Queen's Consent" explains the difference between royal consent and royal assent. The former power gives the Queen rights - also described as a "lobbyists' dream" - that no other citizen has and dispels the myth that she does not intervene in matters of government, be they British, Canadian or Australian. There is also an article described as a "guest submission" that appears on the royal.co.uk website written from the perspective that the Queen doesn't initiate and only deals with what is referred to her by the Government, acts only on its advice etc: worth a look but muddies the waters as to who is advising whom on what and begs the question why UK public servants make the referral in the first place.

Quick Info

For a brief but useful guide to republicanism in Australia, see the entry in Wikipedia

more info >

Woman for an Australian Republic, Adelaide Ironside, republican poet and artist, 1831-1867

Self portrait 1855, Newcastle Region Art Gallery NSW

more info >

Senate Inquiry

Report of Senate Inquiry into the Republic Plebiscite Bill released 15 June 2009

more info >