An Australian Republic is about a free and fair Australia — a fully and truly independent Australian nation under the popular sovereignty of the Australian people. David Donovan comments.
An Australian Republic is about creating a free and fair Australia. Under our current Constitution, Australia is neither totally free nor fully fair. A free nation is one that is tied to no other, where the people are sovereign, not a foreign monarch. A nation built on the principles of fairness will promote the ideals of equality, egalitarianism and democracy — not embed discrimination or division.
Australians deserve to have a free – that is, a fully and truly independent – nation. Whilst it’s true that Australia is a functionally independent nation, and the Governor General acts as a de facto head of state, under our Constitution the British monarch is the font of all legal power in Australia and our formal head of state.
Indeed, our Constitution was given to us as a Schedule to a 1900 British Statute, section 2 of which provides that references to the Queen “shall extend to Her Majesty’s heirs and successors in the sovereignty of the United Kingdom”. Our status is described under s.8 of that Act as a “self-governing colony”, not a nation. Yet, a century later, the UK has been found to be a “foreign power”, whose citizens are ineligible to sit in our Parliament.
Until we break these last Constitutional links to the mother country, our nationhood is incomplete. Australia must finally join the world of nations as a full equal, unshackled to any other. We cannot regard ourselves as totally independent while we maintain the sovereign of the UK, a foreign country, as our Head of State and share her with 15 other nations. Our Head of State should unambiguously represent Australia and devote their full and undivided loyalty and attention to the Australian people. We must also assume constitutional authority over our own Constitution, enacting it in Australia under the sovereignty of the Australian people, not the British crown.
Through the sovereignty of the Australian people, our nation will sit on a bedrock of fairness. It goes against commonly accepted Australian values and ideals – such as democracy, equality and egalitarianism – for Australian citizens to be the subjects of a foreign monarch selected through an unfair and discriminatory process. What sort of example are we setting for our children when we say that our society is set up to reward hard work and talent, and with diligence and tenacity you can get anywhere in life — except for the very top job, which is reserved for someone from a particular British family, who must be Anglican, must not be married to a Catholic, must not be illegitimate and can only be a female if she has no brothers.
And system, built as it is on a British base, intrinsically honours our British heritage at the expense of our First Australian and immigrant cultures. By declaring the sovereignty of the Australian people, we honour all three vital strands of our national identity. An Australian Republic, by respecting our diversity, will unite us as one.
An Australian Republic is about a free and fair Australia—a fully and truly independent Australian nation under the popular sovereignty of the Australian people.