Essay:In defense of Australian Republicanism
The issue of whether Australia should remain a constitutional monarchy or switch to a republic has been plaguing political discourse since the 1800s. Some republican movements and organisations have their roots in the Eureka Stockade with certain groups opting to use the Eureka flag. With Australia’s current (as of 2021) Sovereign being Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, many are arguing that such power over a country should not be given to a foreign entity, but instead one elected by the people. Sadly, even though they have their head in the right spot, most advocates for Australian Republicanism lack a model entirely, forfeiting themselves from the debate. This essay aims to provide reasons for Australian Republicanism, provide a model for such, and persuade you, the reader, into
believing our bullshit siding with us on our grand journey to Australia’s individuality as a nation.
A brief explanation of constitutional monarchy in Australia
Australia is a federation, put simply, comprised of six states and two self-governing territories which individually hold their own constitutions, parliaments, and laws. With all of this, Australia is best described as a constitutional monarchy, where the monarch of Britain acts as a head of state limited by certain laws. Even though Her Majesty is the head of state, the Constitution says that her formal powers are passed down to her representative, the Governor-General, who is elected by the head of state at the Australian Prime Minister’s advice. The Constitution also states that the Queen has the power to reject an Australian Act passed through Parliament.
A model... finally
As mentioned previously, many advocates for republicanism in Australia fail to provide or agree upon a model on which our nation would change to. While one could take the easy way out by just using the ideas presented in the 1999 Republic Referendum, I do not agree with such nor will be presenting it. The idea that a President would be elected not by the people but by the Parliament forgoes our fundamental principles of Australian representation and our nation’s individuality. There are three primary methods of delivering a President in this context. Firstly, the direct election, where the people directly vote who they want to be President with no parliamentary affairs. Secondly, a “fifty-fifty” method, where two votes are held: one in the Parliament, and one with the people and the two results are added together. And lastly, parliamentary election, where a vote is held in Parliament, and the President is selected. With both direct election and parliamentary appointment being heavily supported amongst advocates for a President, it is difficult to provide a system which satisfies everyone.
Thus, a new and modern proposal for ‘picking the President’ needs to be established. One strong contending idea is the ‘Tri-partisan Endorsement’, aiming to present a politically neutral candidate for election. Instead of the useless ceremonial purposes of the Queen as head of state today, the new President would be there to be a unifying force and symbol to settle disputes of conflicting parties. In this model, the three largest political parties in the Australian parliament meet in advance of the federal election and unanimously pick a candidate for the President. In this, the three parties involved in the discussion would be prohibited from endorsing another candidate that is not their tri-partisan candidate. If there is no unanimous agreement on the candidate, the three parties forfeit their right of supporting or endorsing a candidate. After this proposal, the candidate would be subject to a normal popular vote mixed with other candidates who run for the Presidency. Minor parties can then provide their own individual candidates who they endorse for election.
Why rid the Queen and have a head of state, anyways?
Nationhood and pride
As Britain’s control and dominion has diminished and Australia has developed their own national identity and pride, many regard Her Majesty as less relevant or even irrelevant to Australian society altogether. Due to this, it is best to have an Australian head of state rather than a foreign one to suit our needs and development as an individual nation. Even the idea of a hereditary monarchy does not fit with the political and cultural qualities of Australian society. The head of state currently never has really been a representation of Australia, but instead the UK. Similarly, the government appointed Governor-General fails to be a decent representation of Australian society and attitudes and was there to be the representation of the British Crown in Australian governmental matters. The fundamental rejection and objection to the British Monarchy as Australian head of state seems not to be any concern of democracy, but instead that it is not Australian.
Engagement in Australian political matters
Currently, the British monarchy has almost no involvements in Australian politics, where the head of state may be useful to keeping the Prime Minister and executive power in check. As mentioned previously in the model, the head of state could also be utilised for indecision in the Parliament, where otherwise not much would occur.
A monarchy’s a tad bit traditional, ey?
The origins of the monarchy lay in undemocratic and religious matters, and in contrast, modern society favours the idea that political power comes from decision by the people. Similarly, the idea of positions of power being passed down hereditarily is unkind to those with merit, and instead should be based off of skill and the people’s support.
Australia needs to have their own head of state for the sake of nationhood and pride. The most important reason for the rejection of a foreign Sovereign is the very idea that it is foreign. Such a decision to replace Her Majesty would not only substantially improve the political scene of Australia but provide a relatable and heedful figure for the Australian people. Australia is already recognised as one of the most democratic countries in the world, why not remove that shadow of our nation that is the hereditarily monarchical head of state and replace it with an Australian?