Mothers for the Republic

Mothers for the Republic

In Canberra, ACT ARM fundraiser, Karen Munzel featured at the launch. This article appeared in The Canberra Times on 21 October written by Ingrid Maack.

The Munzels wear their republican heart on chest

"One day, I’ll grow up to be President," proclaims the T-shirt worn by Aidan Munzel, two.

While the republic referendum may be in the balance, the Munzel kids of Gordon, have all come down on the same side - and their mother, Karen, says no one has spoken against the idea.

Ms Munzel, a fundraising officer of the Australian Republican Movement, believes that the Australian presidency is a career choice which should be open to all Australians, and would like to see her children - Aidan, Chiara 4 and Freia 6 - grow up in a republic.

"I’m not into having kids carry placards or protesting, but I think the T-shirts are a nice way to say it all and they are a good way of introducing kids to the debate," she said.

The T-shirts, provided by the ARM, have been attracting quite a bit of attention. "A lot of people have approached me and the kids saying, ‘wouldn’t it be nice if you could be president’," she said.

Ms Munzel is happy with the YES campaign’s referendum model which does not allow for the direct election of a president. "An Australian president can’t be a politician but rather someone who can represent all Australians and is an impartial umpire in constitutional and government matters. I’d hate to see expensive presidential elections."

At the Adelaide rally, the views of women attending were more diverse. This report comes from Carolyn Collins and appeared in The Australian of 21 October

Mums urged to cut empire apron strings

Megan Miller is not sure how she will vote in next month’s republic referendum but she is unlikely to be swayed by the prospect of her sons - Benjamin, four, and two-year-old, Edward - one day becoming president.

"They’d just be chief ribbon-cutters," she says, arguing such a role should be below the prime minister, perhaps as some sort of deputy.

Yet it is women like Ms Miller that the Australian Republican Movement must convince if it is to win on November 6.

South Australian ARM campaigner, Cathie King took the YES case to a group of Adelaide mothers yesterday. She said polling showed women were less likely than men to vote YES and many more remained undecided.

"Women are traditionally much more conservative in their voting patterns," she said. And these days, they’re just so busy, they don’t often have time to read the papers or watch the television news, and it’s much harder for them to say this (the republic referendum) is the most important thing in my life."

Hence the venue for yesterdays Mothers for a Republic rally - a relatively quiet corner of a popular play cafe, surrounded by cheery play equipment and plates of fairy bread.

After the official YES case was put, Australian children’s author Mem Fox read to the children before leading them in a finger-clicking chant of "We want a republic".

She said Australia had come a long way since the 1970s and 1980s when her best-selling book Possum Magic was rejected nine times by publishers who regarded it as "too Australian".

Australian women should be ready to cut the apron strings with England.

Adelaide entertainer, ARM ambassador and mother of two, Catherine Lambert, told the gathering there could be no greater dream for an Australian child than to grow up to be the country’s president.

But Phillipa Williams, mother of 13 month old Grace, and already converted to the YES case said the way to a women’s mind was not through her heartstrings.

"I wouldn’t say your son or daughter could one day be president - you could play on the emotions but I think that loses it," she said.

"I think people are confusing the debate with politics - it’s a YES or NO, Labor or Coalition. It’s just a bit of paperwork, cleaning up the office, there’s nothing dramatic about it."

Ms Miller said she believed most people did not care about the referendum.

"When the boys are my age, whether it’s King William or President Joe Bloggs, it’s not going to make a scrap of difference anyway."

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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