Why Women Should vote YES

by Sarah Brasch

Convenor of Women for an Australian Republic and member of the ACT YES Coalition

Women should vote YES in the referendum on the republic on 6 November.

We want to move away from the current situation where the community has no say in the choice of our current Head of State (the monarch of the United Kingdom) or her/his representative in Australia, the Governor-General.

The method of selecting the President, on which we will be voting, allows all women in this country to have a say in who is the Head of State through the Presidential Nominations process which will swing into action next year in time for the first day of the republic on 1 January 2001. The President will hold office for a minimum of five years.

If we vote YES for the republic, all women who are Australian citizens will be eligible to become Head of State – all jobs in this country should be open to women. This moves us away from the sexist institution of the British monarchy where a woman can become our Head of State only if she has no brothers or unless they all abdicate.

Australia needs a Head of State who is resident here and who understands the Australian character and our way of life. We need someone who can represent us to ourselves – something someone resident in England – and who only visits every couple of years – cannot do.

An Australian Head of State will represent our interests exclusively – we remember Britain’s support for nuclear testing in the South Pacific.

In order for the first Australian President to be a woman, vote YES.

Women see the urgent need for constitutional reform in this country. A first step towards this will be a YES vote for the republic in November. This will start the process and, once it has started, women will ensure that it keeps going. There is so much to be done, starting with the next Constitutional Convention in about three years time.

The Presidential Nominations Committee will be the real driving force behind the selection of the President. The nominations from the whole Australian community will be considered by the Committee and a shortlist of about six names given to the Prime Minister who will agree on one name with the Leader of the Opposition.

This person’s nomination will be put to a joint sitting of the Commonwealth Parliament and must be endorsed by two-thirds of members and senators. There is a large amount of public input into this process both through nominations and at the time of the parliamentary vote when citizens will be able to make their views known to their local members and senators about the person whose nomination is the final one on the Prime Minister’s list.

This will be a dignified yet intensive process – a consensus process, without a costly, political free for all which will surely occur with direct election of the President. This is a women’s way of considering all perspectives and coming to a thoughtful, sensible and practical conclusion.

Women’s groups will be lobbying hard to ensure that at least half the Presidential Nominations Committee is female (this bill is still currently before the federal Parliament) so that we have adequate input into this process.

Let’s get Australia moving, starting with an Australian Head of State – Vote YES for Our Republic on 6 November.

If you support further constitutional change, after writing YES on your republic voting paper(the pale orange one), write YES…and MORE underneath the boxes. This will not invalidate your vote but will be noted by scrutineers.

A YES vote for the republic is supported by YES Coalitions in each State and Territory.

Members of the ACT YES Coalition, working together for the YES case, are: Young Australians for A Republic, Women for an Australian Republic, members of the ACT indigenous community, the Australian Republican Movement, A Just Republic, Conservatives for an Australian Head of State, YES…and More, the original Real Republic and individual members of the local Labor and Liberal parties, Democrats and Greens.