Women Say

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A. Recently Collected Papers by Women about the Republic


1. “Gendered Issues for a Move to a Republic” paper submitted by Associate Professor Kim Rubenstein to the Senate Inquiry on the Republic in March 2004 in which she deals in detail with gender issues associated with the role of head of state; gender issues associated with the appointment of a head of state and proposes legislating for alternative female and male heads of state. Kim was invited to give evidence to the Inquiry. The transcript of her discussion with the Senators can be found at: http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/legcon_ctte/completed_inquiries and click on 2002-04 (it’s the first listing tabled 31 August 2004)


1. Vicky Marquis of Sydney presented a paper to the NSW Social Policy Conference in 1992 – just as the current wave of republicanism in Australia was getting underway – illustrating her hopes for a republic to bring justice to women in the legal system based on experience in Canada where women shaped the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Read an extract of “A Feminist Republic? Taking up the Challenge – Lessons from the Past” which was later published in Australian Quarterly, Vol 65, No 3, Spring 1993.

2. Janes Innes, Senior Lecturer Faculty of Law at Wollongong University presented “Reflections on an Australian Republic” at the Jessie Street National Women’s Library in Sydney on 24 July 2003. She discusses what model and what process is needed to replace the British monarch with an Australian head of state and sets out a five step program for viable constitutional change. Jane is associated with the Millennium Dilemma project that over the last eight years has recorded the views of commentators and thinkers about constitutional change in Australia – access at www.uow.edu.au/law/civics

3. Paper given by Sarah Brasch, National Convenor of Women for an Australian Republic, at the Women’s Constitional Convention held in Canberra from 11 to 13 June 2002: “Is ‘the Republic’ a Women’s Issue?” This and other papers given by women on the republic and constitutional change are to be found on the WCC 2002 site at www.wcc2002.asn.au

4. “Unbinding the Republic – The Snowy River Leap” a romantic and inspiring call to all women to urge on the Republic given a passionate delivery at WCC 2002 by feisty Geelong republican, Judith Brooks. Read Judith’s paper here.

B. Women’s views on the Republic before the Referendum

Why women should vote YES by Sarah Brasch, Convenor of Women for an Australian 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.

Susanne Martain’s Letter to the Queen

Hazel says it’s time to grow upA report from AAP printed in The Australian on 11 October 1999

Why I’m Voting YES by Imelda Fleming (from The Canberra Times 2 October 1999)

PhD Student says Churches left out of Republic Debate – Article by Tania Cutting which appeared in the ANU Reporter, Volume 30, number 14, Wednesday 15 September.

Wendy Machin, ARM Deputy Chair speaking at a Town Hall address in Ballarat, Victoria organised by The Australian newspaper challenges the monarchists to tell Australians why they are not good enough to be Head of State. “They need to tell the truth to Australians about why they really want the British monarch to remain our head of state”, she said. Read ARM’s press release about Wendy’s speech.

God save us from Privilege Penelope Layland writing in The Canberra Times, 23 August 1999

Speech given at the launch of the ACT YES Coalitionby  Sheryle Moon, 10 August

90 Days for a Fair Debate Media Release by Senator Amanda Vanstone, Senator for South Australia, Minister for Justice and Customs, 8 August 1999

Persevere, a republic is still possible – there’s no need for pessimism in the YES camp by Anne Henderson, Deputy Director of the Sydney Institute

Professor Marilyn Lake gave the 1999 Pamela Denoon lecture in Canberra on 9 March 1999. Her topic was the very timely A Republic for Women? Find the text at this site: www.pcug.org.au/other/wel/announce/denoon/99mlake.htm

Women gave their views around all the issues associated with an Australian Republic at the Women’s Constitutional Convention held in January 1998. Find their papers on the Convention site www.womensconv.dynamite.com.au

Women also spoke passionately and eloquently at the National Convention of Republicans held in Canberra in February 1999. Find their papers on the Convention site www.republic.org.au/ncr/index.htm

Contributions by Young (women) Australians for a Republic speakers at the NCR – Kirsten Andrews, Marni Curtis, Terry MacDonald and Sandy Pitcher – can be found on the YAR website www.vicnet.net.au/~yesyouth

Talking Tactics, an article about strategy for the referendum campaign on the republic was written by Sarah Brasch, Convenor of Women for An Australian Republic and a member of ACT Australian Republican Movement (ARM). in  December 1998.

C. Young Women talk about the Republic

Rachel Massey will be a week short of 18 on 6 November 1999 and, therefore, doesn’t get to vote. This is what she had to say to women who said that they intended to vote informal at the referendum on the republic.

A Young Woman’s View on the Republic by Joanna Bollen, reprinted in the August edition of “Capital Women”.

D. Was the vote for the YES Case influenced by Gender

Susan Mitchell attempts to specifically analyse what influenced the women’s vote.(From The Australian)  In her view, the ARM and the YES campaign failed to appeal to women because their pitch was permeated with male culture. Read her article.

E. Women’s Organisations Talking about the Republic

2 December 2000: Women’s Electoral Lobby national conference – Sandy Kiliick’s Report

Anne Hall, Convenor of WEL Victoria reports on the discussion at the WEL National Conference held in Perth on 16 to 18 April

From the Women Into Politics Symposium at Lismore, 17-18 April 1999

F. Views of Non English Speaking Background Women

Rachel Choy, former Executive Director of the YWCA of Australia

“The current debate about a new Australian Constitution is an opportunity for women from non-English speaking backgrounds to exercise our right of citizenship. For us and previous generations of immigrants, it is a unique chance to ensure that Australian becomes a multicultural, multi-racial nation, reconciled with its first peoples.”

The Honourable Helen Sham Ho, former member of the NSW Upper House

“Every citizen has the responsibility of defending, changing or being concerned about the Constitution. As a migrant, I know that many people who come to Australia aren’t aware of the significance of documents like the Constitution. We are concerned about issues such as better opportunities and being treated fairly without realising that these stem from Australia’s political system and, therefore, the Constitution. Migrant women must participate in discussions about Australia’s future.”

G. About the Preamble

Associate Professor Marian Sawer has contributed a chapter on women, the lack of gender equality under the existing Constitution and what they expect from the preamble to a new book edited by Dr John Uhr of the ANU: “The Case for YES” which draws on papers given at the National Convention of Republicans last February.  Visible at Last? Women and the Preambleby Marian Sawer.

Associate Professor Marian Sawer of the Australian National University in Canberra writes on the Preamble: Women and the Preamble: Australia Not Afghanistan

Marian Sawer is on secondment from the University of Canberra to the Political Science Program, RSSS, ANU. She is a member of the Australian Women’s Constitutional Network.