Independent Australia turns ten today. History editor Dr Glenn Davies looks back over the last decade of ‘news with a conscience’.
TODAY is Independent Australia’s tenth birthday.
I remember ten years ago when the first article was published — the day after the “night of the long knives” when Julia Gillard rolled Kevin Rudd for the prime ministership. At the same time Rudd was being deposed, IA emerged as an independent Australian voice.
The anniversary of the establishment of Independent Australia on 24 June comes a few days after the winter solstice, a time of reflection at a quiet time of the year.
Over the past decade, Independent Australia has gone from strength to strength. Since those first days, Independent Australia – founded by former Australian Republic Movement vice chair David Donovan – has become the premier republican voice in Australia, the modern day version of The Bulletin in its heyday of the 1880s and 1890s.
Australia has a long tradition of independent, republican journalism. This tradition was first established in newspapers such as the People’s Advocate and Empire of the 1840s and 1850s, supported in The Age in the 1870s and 1880s and from a constant theme in publications in the 1890s, such as the Newcastle Radical, the Wagga Hummer, the Cairns Advocate, the Melbourne Tocsin, the Hobart Clipper and John Norton’s Truth. But it was in the pages of The Bulletin of the 1880s and 1890s that the flowering of republican ideals can most noticeably be seen to emerge.
Over the past ten years, the task I have taken on with IA is to begin to document some of our shared republican history. For me, this historical journey had begun much earlier with my 1988 James Cook University history honours thesis, ‘The Australian Republican: a Charters Towers based radical journal, 1890-1891’. Coincidentally, the first edition of the Australian Republican was published on 21 June 1890 — 130 years almost to the day before Independent Australia.
It has been a long time since Australia has had such a strong republican voice. Australia’s republican voice has been lost for a long time. There have certainly been many writers, artists, academics and politicians who have actively advocated for an Australian republic over the past century, however, they have not had a home where they can all shelter under the same roof.
Independent Australia has become that space, a republican space, a republican civic space where republicans and others can debate the issues that are important to our political and civic future.
Over the past ten years, the task of documenting our shared republican history has included Lee Duffield, Stephen Williams, David Muir, Barry Everingham, Dr Benjamin Thomas Jones, Lewis Holden, Scott Crawford, Dr Klass Woldring, John Skene, Robert Vose, Roy McKeen, Ynes Sanz, Alan Austin, Kelly Butterworth, Sarah Brasch, Len Liddelow as well as, of course, Glenn Davies and David Donovan himself.
But there is still a great deal more to document. Australia’s republican past has a rich and deep seam. It’s important to remember, though, that our future is inextricably linked to our shared past.
Republican voices now have a home. All families need a home. Thanks to David Donovan and all the contributors to Independent Australia, the republican tribe can begin to look around and see who they are.
Independent Australia believes in a fully and truly independent Australia — a nation that determines its own future, protects its citizens, its environment and its future. A country that is fair and free. In a volatile and changing online media landscape, Independent Australia has not only managed to stay afloat but has become a strong alternate voice to the mainstream media.
So, happy birthday, Independent Australia and here’s to a long and independent life. And remember, every tribe needs a home.
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