Which raises the issue of a counter-argument to the claim that a republic leads to "more politicians and more election campaigns". It is not difficult to see that a democratic system where elected representatives and the means to elect them are shunned has an underlying problem. The classic argument against a republic - if it ain't broke, don't fix it - falls over in this regard. If under the monarchy our elected representatives are regarded so lowly, there is something wrong with the system. Our elections are focused solely on electing the legislature - Parliament - and not other, albeit symbolic, offices to hold the legislature to account. As elections for the president in the Republic of Ireland show, electing an office that does not have the power to direct policy leads to a national conversation about identity. That is a step towards creating real engagement with the political process, something that the status quo cannot offer.
The only sensible response to the hatred of politicians and the political process is to emphasise the failings of our political system are ours, and are within our power to change. If our elected head of state is found to be inadequate, we can elect a new one. Sure, it's not perfect, but it's certainly better than a genetic lottery. And more importantly, electing our head of state emphasises where power comes from - the people. All of the talk of "elite" or the "political class" dominating elections - aside from its fairly unsubtle colonial cringe - implicitly says that the Australian people are mindless automatons who'll vote for a big name. As a republican, I think we should demand more from our politicians and think more highly of ourselves.
(Lewis Holden is Chair of the Republican Movement of Aotearoa New Zealand.)
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