Australia has its own identity, there is no question of that. What it doesn't have, writes David Donovan, while we have this link to a foreign power, is our own unambiguous Australian identity.
(This article was published on Newscorp's 'The Punch' website on 31/8/10)
TRY TO EXPLAIN Australia's current arrangements to an Indian or a Greek person and you can see them struggling to keep a straight face.
One of Australia's most distinguished diplomats, the former Indonesian Ambassador Richard Woolcott, once wrote that when Australian diplomats are received at official functions overseas, the anthem that is played is 'God Save the Queen' and the Queen is toasted at the end as head of state. This is apparently standard protocol in diplomatic circles.
Now, if that doesn't send a confusing message about Australia's place in the world, I don't know what does.
It is a surprisingly common misconception in the world that Australia has never stopped being a colony of Britain. Russia's highest circulation daily newspaper, Pravda, for example, in an article entitled 'Britain May Lose Green Continent After Queen's Death', wrote this about Gillard's call for a republic when the Queen dies:
"Britain may soon lose one of its major jewels - Australia. The Prime Minister of this country, Julia Gillard, announced the possible abolishment of the British rule over the continent...The green continent has been an English colony since the end of the 18th century."
Though it is rarely admitted by monarchists, one of the major reasons for them wanting to retain the current system is because they want Australia to keep its British flavour and not become a new and uniquely Australian place.
For instance, a first generation Australian Englishman who regularly posts comments on this very website, Joshua, is up-front about his reasons for wanting Australia to not become a republic:
"I will say though to that Mr Donovan chap, the Queen is not a foreigner sorry to say, Australia is English, the Queen is English, it’s that simple, Aussies are not a race, if you want to call yourself an Aussie by all means, though Australia’s nationality is English and everyone else just has to live with it or get out."
If only more monarchists were upfront about their real reasons for wanting to retain the monarchy, rather than perpetuating the myth of our supposedly infallible Constitution, then I daresay we would would be a republic today.
The fact is, we need to become a republic to present a unified and unambiguous face to the world. More importantly, we need it for our own national pride so that people like Joshua can longer pass Australians off as Southern Pacific poms.