Indigenous Australia and an Australian Republic: Moving in the same direction

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(Cartoon via Eureka Street /

Meaningful self-determination for First Australians is not even a remote possibility while the nation remains a constitutional monarchy, writes Indigenous affairs editor Natalie Cromb.

'The Australian Constitutional Monarchy provides an excellent balance between politicians representing the wishes of the majority and the Monarch protecting the interests of all Australians.'

Let that sink in a moment.

All Australians? 

Protecting the interests?

This, I kid you not, is within the charter of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy. There exists – in 2016 – a group of people that think that our country is fine, our legal system is fine and having the Queen as head of state should endure for all time.

In 2016.

If it’s not broke — no need to fix, y’all. Out of the mouths of the privileged monarchists. I guess if you are a middle to upper class Australian of privilege [cough: white] you probably would think that Australia is fine the way it is.

I should start by getting my bias out in the open immediately: I am Aboriginal and an advocate for Aboriginal self-determination and sovereignty, but I am also a realist that knows one cannot unscramble an egg (shipped back whence you came) and, thus, I advocate for Treaties to be enacted with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations for not only self-governance and land rights, but the most critical part of my personal agenda is to have all Australians educated on the truthful history of this nation, so that the continuation of poor policy decisions and oppression ceases.

I am also an advocate for Australia becoming a Republic. Why? Because I want it all, dammit!

No, it is not because I want Australian taxpayers to stop funding royal visits that provide no value for money on the taxpayer dollar. No, it is not because I think that the royals are an incestuous bunch of stylised bludgers that get to wave and live lavish lifestyles — hell, even Kim Kardashian has to do more than wave for her money (oh yes, I went there).

All jokes (pun intended) aside, ultimately, I want self-determination for my people and I know that this is not even a remote possibility whilst we remain a constitutional monarchy.

It doesn’t take much deep thinking to understand why.

Do you really think our monarchy would ever concede that it stole a country that has an annual GDP of $USD 1.56 trillion? Sure, the land was “like the moon when the British arrived — but look what progress they have made:

  • economy – where the rich get richer and the poor continue to pay taxes that line the pockets of the top end of town and the success or failure of the economy is based largely on intangibles such as stock prices that are manipulated by the corporatocracy in control of our government;
  • infrastructure – look at all those roadways with all those cars creating all that pollution, and let’s not forget the incredible work redirecting waterways – wasn’t that the epitome of progress;
  • utilisation of resources – we are so lucky we have the mining sector to pillage the earth of resources to send offshore to developing countries to power through their industrialisation period and pollute the planet ... because ... progress.

Even if the monarch grew a conscience, how would we quantify the damage for the loss of and destruction of land? What about interest on 228 years of occupation, while the Indigenous population has been subjected to countless abuses of human rights? How do you quantify the pain and suffering of attempted genocide and 228 years of trans-generational trauma?

Not going to happen. Not only is the task of quantification impossible, the structures within this Country would not allow a concession that would lead to true reparations (dollars), which is why I want Australia to become a republic.

The new Australian (preferably Aboriginal) Head of State would lose no face by confessing to the atrocities of the old regime and entering into a new relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians — one based on self-determination, respect, pride of survival and rights over land.

Entering treaties and negotiating a model of self-determination for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people would be the first meaningful step in our shared Australian history that was not symbolism for symbolism’s sake. Yes I know we have had the Apology, but "sorry" generally means you won’t do it again and, despite his apparent regret at historical atrocities, Kevin Rudd had no qualms at not only supporting but continuing and expanding the Intervention in the Northern Territory, which has led to the highest rate of Aboriginal child removals since the Stolen Generation, about which he was so repentant.

Forgive me if I don’t hold Sorry Day in the high esteem for which the government intended, but – with 228 years of broken promises from both sides of the political spectrum, patchy policies predicated upon the two political parties either undermining one another or playing to the masses of racist middle class Australians and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people having laws made that directly affect them without any consultation – words and symbols simply do not cut it with me anymore.

My people need action. My people need assurances protected in legally binding covenants with real and meaningful consequences of breach of the terms of the covenant. We know the "Crown" won’t give that to us because – ultimately – a crime was committed under British law and the damages would, not only affect Australia, but the ramifications would extend beyond the shores of Australia and hit the British also.

An Australian Republic would be our opportunity to create our own independent system of government that is a means of representation for all Australians, not just those privileged enough to work what is now a patriarchal system of whiteness.

A Republic, together with Treaties for Indigenous self-determination, will be the critical turning point in creating a positive national identity. The Republic and Treaty campaigns are aligned in many respects, but our goal on one overarching theme is simply that we want to have a country we can be proud of – one where we are moving in the same direction – together.

To those opposed to a Republic, I ask: why you are opposed to the Republic and if you are so content to continue in the same vein that we currently do. Why?

Is it perhaps because you are in a position of privilege under the current regime and do not wish to upset the apple cart and potentially have to make accommodations with those not so privileged? Are you fearful the oppressed will have a voice and be in a position to effect change? Fearful that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will have treaties that ensure you cannot continue to profit from their oppression and theft of land?

You should be.

Make no mistake, a Republic is inevitable and I am an advocate for this change not only for Australia, but for the people who have suffered for 228 years as a result of "Australia".

You can follow Natalie Cromb on Twitter @NatalieCromb.

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