Report of Senate Inquiry into the Republic released on 15 June 2009 access here.
For a brief but useful guide to republicanism
in Australia, see the entry in Wikipedia online
Australian Republic Bill released on 15 June 2009 access here
Republican Short Story Competition closes 31 August 2009 - refer to this site
- 23 June 2009: Elizabeth Mullan, a student at the Australian National University, will speak about Engaging Women in the Republic at a lunchtime meeting of ACT ARM, 1.30pm at the Southern Cross Club, Woden. Elizabeth investigated this topic as part of an internship with the ARM in Canberra to complete her degree and interviewed a number of women republican advocates and academics including women from WfaAR. Her final paper will be available here shortly.
- 18 June 2009: ACT Chief Minister responds to query from WfaAR about inviting
the Queen to attend the 2013 centenary of Canberra celebration. The ACT
Government has asked the Prime Minister to invite the Queen in her role as
our head of state. Read our letter and his response here.
- 15 June 2009: The Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee releases its report on Senator Bob Brown's (Greens Tasmania) proposal to hold a plebiscite at the next federal election. The Committee made no
recommendations about the plebiscite (wording or timing) and came up with only two short recommendations on the need a) for constitutional education for the whole population and b) to engage the people, meaningfully, in any
proposal for constitutional change including the republic. WfaAR's comment is that the republic is going nowhere at present and, in fact, that getting any movement at all is at its lowest ebb since 1999 given there is no interest in progressing it from either of the major political parties. Such timidity - we deserve better. Why, oh why, are we waiting for the British to force our hand on this one if they either change their law of succession to the throne or declare themselves a republic first?
- 10 June 2009: UMR Research releases an update of its November 2008 poll on the republic. 45 percent of women support; 32 percent oppose (compared with 57 percent to 28 percent of men). 46 percent of women support a referendum in the next parliamentary term 2010 to 2013; 38
>percent oppose (compared with 60 percent to 30 percent of men). 82 percent of women support direct election; 9 percent support parliamentary appointment for the head of state (1000 online respondents, 16-21 May 2009). Refer to www.umrresearch.com.au
- 2 June 2009: Republican Gathering 5 media statement is released. Groups attending agreed to meet in future under the banner: Coalition of Australian Republicans. The next meeting will be held at the Gold Coast during 2010 convened by Real Republic Ltd.
- 30/31 May 2009: The annual Republican Gathering (this is the fifth one since 2005) takes place in Melbourne organised by members of Women for an Australian Republic, Judith Brooks and Anne Winckel, and ARM Victoria. WfaAR representatives presented papers on a number of topics including the 2009 Senate Inquiry into the Republic Plebiscite bill. Hot issues were the Government's response to the 2020 Summit
recommendations on the Republic; the Greens stance on the republic and how to assist them get things moving; the implications of delaying the republic desired by the majority until the Queen dies (Republican Party
of Australia); is a minimalist republic enough to convince the people to vote YES? (Republic Now!) and ARM's new policy on the republic (let the people decide the way to select the head of state) and work on
codifying the Governor-General's current powers. Guest speakers were Phil Cleary from Real Republic; Professor Marilyn Lake Latrobe University on the desirability of new narratives for a new nation and
Peter Ellyard on leadership and the republic. The Gathering also considered up to date surveying carried out by UMR Research showing that strong preference for direct election continues in 2009 hovering around the 80 percent mark.
- 29 April 2009: Women for an Australian Republic gives evidence to the Senate Committee inquiring into the Greens' bill for a single question plebiscite (non-binding vote) on the republic at the next federal election - Do you support Australia becoming a republic? Read our submission here and our opening statement here. Other republican groups giving evidence were the ARM, the Copernicans, the Republican Party of Australia as well as Dr Klaas Woldring and Professor George Williams. WfaAR were the only women to appear before the inquiry. The Anti-Republicans were represented by the Australian Monarchist League, Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy, Family Voice and Sir David Smith who argued that a plebiscite was inappropriate as it would amount to a vote of no-confidence in the Constitution or there should be a referendum instead or not required/a waste of money as the matter was settled for good in 1999. The republic supporters did not agree and were united in their rejection of the contention, popular with leading politicians in both the major parties, that nothing should/can be done about the republic until the Queen dies.
- 22 April 2009: The Government announces action on nine recommendations out of nearly 1000 ideas put forward at the 2020 Summit held in April 2008. The strongly supported move to a republic was not one of them. On this subject now under the heading "Constitutional Reform", the Government only commented that it recognises the priority placed on "constitutional reform" by the community and, further, that "it is committed to ongoing reform of our Constitution where appropriate and will draw on the input of the Summit in thinking about future possible proposals for constitutional change." This vague language indicates that the republic is a very, very long way down the Government's agenda and that we are not likely to see action anytime soon. WfaAR has written to the Prime Minister to protest the Government's short-sightedness and suggest action is required even to get us out of the mire resulting from the global financial crisis and to create a modern forward-looking and cohesive society.
- 3 April 2009: The Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, agrees with the Prime Minister that Australia will become a republic. She described the move as a "development of our democracy in future decades".
- 27 March 2009: Plans afoot in England to change the rules of succession to give women equal rights to ascend the throne. Legislation has been introduced into the British Parliament by Evan Harris, a Liberal Democrat MP. Interestingly, if passed, it will also have to be agreed by the Australian federal Parliament and the other 14 nations that currently have Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state. BBC News also reports that a poll of 1,000 revealed that 76 percent thought that the monarchy should continue while only 18 percent were in favour of a republic in the UK.
- 6 March 2009: In an official media release on his website, the Prime Minister refers to the Governor-General as "Australia's Head of State". This is either republic by stealth (a good sign) or someone has had a rush of blood to the head given this is not correct according to our Constitution.
- 6 March 2009: WfaAR is described as "a thoughtful contributor to public inquiries on the Republic" in a talk by Professor John Warhurst, Deputy Chair of ARM, in the Senate Occasional Lecture Series at Parliament House, Canberra.
- 3 March 2009: Robyn Archer delivers the annual Manning Clark lecture in Canberra. She said playing Elgar at the climax of the film "Australia" is the best reason for a move to a Republic and comments that nearly all aspects of contemporary Australia display "terrifyingly deep ties to our colonisers". She says the Republic is "a matter of survival" but won't guarantee survival unless an appropriate national identifier is chosen by Australian leaders with authority. She goes for one simple question, then work out what sort of a republic it will be, and favours a republic with minimal change. She sees it important that the Republic continues our ties to Britain and the Westminster system and, most especially, one of our greatest riches, compulsory voting.
- 22 February 2009: Princess Anne, represents her mother, Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, at the Victorian bushfire memorial service in Melbourne, at our Head of State's request. She sat next to the Head of State's local representative, the Governor-General. The Queen made an undisclosed private donation to the bushfire appeal; Princess Anne said she would do likewise.
- 25 December 2008: The ABC news crew in London strike their own chord for the Republic. All dressed up for the festive season, they do their own rendition of a well-known Christmas song outside Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing St: "We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year; Good tidings we bring, to you and your Queen (kin)......!!
- 26 November 2008: UMR Research Australia publishes a comprehensive online poll: 3,000 interviews from a nationally representative survey, which shows 43 percent of women (compared with 58 percent of
men) support a republic answering the question: "Do you support or oppose Australia becoming a republic?". 32 percent of women were opposed compared with 24 percent of men. The poll also reports that 80 percent favour direct election - only 12 percent favour appointment by Parliament. The 23 page report is the most comprehensive survey/analysis on the republic for some time with quotes from respondents - see www.umrresearch.com.au
- 25 November 2008: In a first, the British Government invites public suggestions for the position of Poet Laureate. The Department of Culture, Sport and the Media will consult academics; poetry organisations and "others in the poetry sector" from the UK and the Commonwealth, as well as the public, but pointed out that this will not be a popular vote. The Guardian Weekly comments that one problem with the appointment is finding a poet who supports the monarchy.
[Poet sought: royal job, quite fraught by Mark Brown in The Guardian Weekly]
- 20 November 2008: WfaAR records the passing of Professor George Winterton from the University of Sydney, a constitutional lawyer and invaluable adviser to the republican movement. Professor Winterton spoke most recently to republican groups at the fourth Republican Gathering in Sydney in May this year. His topic was the reserve powers of the Governor-General concluding that it was possible to have direct election without full codification of those powers
(neither desirable nor practically possible). His obituary in The Canberra Times titled him simply "Republican". He is best known in republican circles as a member of The Corowa Four, one of the authors of the short and precise Royal Hotel Resolution, that still sets the benchmark for the content of a multi-choice advisory referendum (non-binding) on the Republic and way forward after that - see our news item of 10 December 2002 for the full text of the Royal Hotel Resolution.
- 18 November 2008: The ARM announces that two newly elected members of National Council are women: Prue Gusmerini and Kate Holloman, both of whom are young lawyers with experience in Indigenous communities. With only a small number of female State Branch convenors, that makes a total of around four women out of 18 members. The proportion of women on ARM National Council continues to fall.
- 13 November 2008: The Senate refers Senator Bob Brown's (Greens
Tasmania) Plebiscite for an Australian Republic Bill 2008 to committee for inquiry and report by 15 June 2009. The short bill and one page explanatory memorandum can be accessed through the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee at www.aph.gov.au. The Bill proposes a single question plebiscite at the next federal election: Do you support Australia becoming a republic? Closing date for submissions is 6 February 2009.
- 30 October 2008: At a book launch in Sydney, former Prime Minister Paul Keating, completely rejects the idea that an Australian identity was only first forged at Gallipoli. In WfaAR's view, he's right. The prominence of this male, military event - and defeat - has obliterated the achievement of the Federation of the Commonwealth 15 years earlier and stands in the way of achieving the Australian Republic today.
- 29 October 2008: The Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, speaking at the Australia Unlimited Conference supports the Australian Dialogue proposed by Aboriginal elder Pat Dodson, and former West Australian Governor John Sanderson, to shift Indigenous policy into "a post-reconciliation era". She refers to it as "a ground breaking nation-changing agenda". She also said, " the duty of public office must, at the very least, be to listen to the stories of our communities and to draw upon the depth and diversity of opinion and experience that is the fabric of Australian life." A good recipe for our own Head of State. [quotes from G-G sees new chance for a 'glad tomorrow' by Stuart Rintoul in The Australian]
- 29 October 2008: In a further sign of "being stuck", both the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader support The Lord's Prayer at the start of each sitting day in federal Parliament, in place since 1901. They both reject acknowledgement of Indigenous peoples to start the days session and rotating the prayers of the main faiths represented in Australia. [Rudd, Turnbull back daily prayer, Nicola Berkovic in The Australian]
- October 28 2008: In the Canberra suburb of Manuka, political journalist turned artist, Christine Wallace, is staging an exhibition of screen prints of the Eureka flag. Chris says this flag is "burned into the memory of our nation" because "it was the only time in our history that blood has been spilt over politics". She describes the Australian flag as "the wrong colours and a kind of colonial relic." Insightfully she also says,"Australia's very stuck and everybody really moved to the right under John Howard, including the current Labor Prime Minister, and we need to find some symbols through which we can make Australia come unstuck." [Eureka! Unflagging Artist Puts the Boot In by Sarina Tulip in The Canberra Times]
- 22 October 2008: Dr Marion Maddox, Director of the Centre for Research on Social Inclusion at Macquarie University delivers a lecture on "The Exclusive Inclusive Republic" at the ANU in Canberra. She says the republic question is fundamentally about power but notes that discussions at ConCon in 1998 retained a place in the Constitution for a higher authority than the head of state, a 'generic god'. In the space leading up to the next Republic debate, she argues it's time for the framers of a cosmopolitan Australian Republic to look beyond 18th century anti-monarchism and anti-clericalism to a global ethos with its own economic, legal, cultural and environmental imperatives. We hope to have a copy of Marion's paper later in the year and will post here.
- 11 October 2008: Julie Bishop MP (Member for Curtin WA), Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, gives the ARM's National Republican Lecture in Canberra. During question time, she entertained the possibility of a non-binding vote on the republic at the 2010 federal election and foreshadowed that during inevitable reviews of all Liberal Party policies after the loss of last years election, the party's policy stance on the republic may be addressed. She said several times that republicans were still divided which suggests better communication with the Liberals is necessary to acquaint them with the cooperative work that is now going on between the various groups through the Republican Gatherings (see 17-18 May 2008 News item). The lecture was netcast live for the first time and will eventually be able to be viewed on ARM's website at www.republic.org.au
- 23 September 2008: Kerry O'Brien interviews new Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, on ABC's 7.30 Report. Asked about the republic, Ms Bryce says she is 'absolutely' sure that the Australian public can make up its mind on this issue when asked. WfaAR agrees. This has been our position for some time - put the question and let the voters decide.
- 18 September 2008: Judith Brooks of Women for an Australian Republic and Barwon Heads Vic writes to The Australian about Malcolm Turnbull's commitment to leadership and the republic. This is what she wrote: "By declaring that Australia will never separate from the British monarchy until the death of Elizabeth II, Malcolm Turnbull, our new 'confident' Leader of the Opposition reneges on an obvious leadership challenge. Now he is in a position to actually lead on this important unfinished national business and make amends for the disaster he presided over in the first republic referendum, he squibs the fight. He wants Australia to be a confident country which can do anything yet he wants us to wait a decade, or even two, to assume a truly independent national identity because, presumably it's all too hard. Leadership is about many things, including making history rather than following it."
- 15 September 2008: Malcolm Turnbull of 1999 republic referendum campaign fame becomes leader of the Liberal Party and of Her Majesty's Opposition. This gladens republican hearts and fulfils a long-desired scenario with both the PM and the Opposition leader, strong republicans. The PM said he looked forward to working with Turnbull on the republic. Turnbull returned fire by saying that the republic is on hold until the Queen dies. WfaAR doesn't agree at all and is strongly of the view that the republic should be dictated by the timetable of Australians, not by events in another country. Is Malcolm Turnbull going to "break the nation's heart" this time round?
- 6 September 2008: Germaine Greer writing in The UK Guardian took things a step further. She says that although Australia has now has a woman as Governor-General (well behind other Commonwealth countries that still claim the UK monarch as their head of state), attitudes to its Indigenous peoples are as ignorant as ever. Describing the job as 'nugatory', she also says it has fewer rights than the poorest Australian (and she got a bit confused between the Torres Strait Islanders who are an Australian first people and the South Sea Islanders brought here as slaves for the sugar plantations, who aren't)
- 5 September 2008: Commenting on Quentin Bryce's inauguration as the Governor-General on a cold day in Canberra, the Prime Minister said on Sunrise (Ch 7 morning TV) that "if a little girl from a country town in Queensland....can become Governor-General, then girls can do anything". An familiar feminist refrain and eerily reminiscent of a republican line - and not a terribly successful one - run during the 1999 referendum campaign. He then almost immediately equivocated about when the Government intended to consult the people about becoming a republic. WfaAR reminds the PM that appointing a woman as the Queen's representative does not in any way accommodate the majority's desire to be a Republic.
- 11 September 2008: Dr Stephen Cornell of the University of Arizona speaks in Canberra at a Reconciliation Australia lecture about advances made by native Americans in their own governance. He commented that separatism has little support in American Indian communities today. Indian nations, he said, "see themselves as inseparably part of the American republic." Food for thought to guide Australia's desire to become a Republic which would include everyone as equal partners (compared with the exclusiveness implicit in the way our current constitutional monarchy is perceived by many groups in our society and entrenched by the way the federation was achieved in the 1890s).
- 7 August 2008: Ex Prime Minister, Paul Keating, criticises the Rudd Government's lack of a clear message for the Australian public. In an interview on the 7.30 Report, he identified three themes that were as important now as they were in the mid 1990s when they were sidelined by the Howard Government. One of these was "to get rid of QEII" and bring in the Republic - and he didn't mean the ship. Keating also said you can't go around Asia saying you have borrowed the monarch of another country as your head of state. He urged the current federal Government to take time to think about the future.
- 2 August 2008: Judith Brooks representing Women for an Australian Republic is invited to speak at a Saturday forum for republicans put on by ARM Victoria. Judith explained her perception of the republican movement since the Constitutional Convention in 1998 and described the ARM from an outsider's perspective. Her talk sparked lively debate at the forum.
- 25 June 2008: Senator Natasha Stott Despoja (Democrats South
Australia) gives her valedictory speech in the Senate which she joined in 1996. Like Amanda Vanstone who left the Senate last year, Senator Stott Despoja's unswerving support for the Republic will be sorely missed. She leaves a prominent legacy of personal involvement in the 1998 Constitutional Convention and campaigning for the YES vote in 1999; membership of the Senate Inquiry into a Republic 2003-04; her private members bills; membership of ARM's National Council while serving in the parliament and launching the Democrats' policy for progressing the republic for the 2007 election (the only party that put out a republic proposal last year).
- 4 June 2008: WfaAR ends its formal links with the Australian Republican Movement to avoid perceptions that it is a subsidiary group of ARM. WfaAR continues to have an excellent relationship with ARM and individual members of ARM. We share many objectives in common. WfaAR looks forward to working closely with ARM to advance the Republic and to promote women's interests in and involvement in the Republic.
- 17-18 May 2008: Republican Gathering 4 was held in Sydney hosted by Democracy First. Other groups attending along with WfaAR were: the Australian Republican Movement; The Copernican Republicans; Foundation for Constitutional Renewal; Patriots for the Australian Republic; Real Republic; Republic Now! and the Republican Party of Australia as well as a number of individual advocates. Groups discussed the form of plebiscites and referendums; desired alterations to the Constitution as well as the way forward after the recent change of government. This culminated in the first media statement made by the group acknowledging that a) choices about the republic belonged in the hands of the people and b) there should be one or more initial plebiscites followed by a single referendum (in contrast to the 2020 Summit recommendation). Read the press release here
- 30 April 2008: 10 days after the 2020 Summit, the Top Ideas from the Governance Group were changed (the only group of ideas where changes were made). The No 1 recommendation on the republic was changed with Stage 1 to be a plebiscite (a non-binding vote) on the principle that Australia becomes a republic and severs ties with the Crown and Stage 2 to be a referendum on the model of a republic after extensive and broad consultation. WfaAR does not agree with this staging and thinks that the people should make a number of choices at the first vote to prevent the threshold question from being voted down because it lacks detail. The proposed Stage 2 is interesting because it suggests choices on "the model for the republic" instead of the usual: "model for selecting the head of state". The Government needs to clarify its intentions and whether it accepts the Summit proposals.
- 20 April 2008: The proposal for the Republic gets an rousing ovation at the 2020 Summit from the 1000 summiteers, the only idea to do so. But the recommendation of the Governance Group to introduce a republic with no time line: first by plebiscite asking whether we want republic or not, after which the Governor-General would retain all current titles and powers for five years, during which time we would explore and understand models for selecting the head of state, is not only odd and needlessly time-consuming but completely reverses the Corowa recommendations from 2001, voted on by 400 people. WfaAR immediately wrote to the Prime Minister seeking clarification of the 2020 recommendation - read our letter here
- 19 April 2008: Margaret Rolfe writes to The Canberra Times again. This time she says in refutation of David Barnett's article that "Royalty protects us from tyranny", that the Governor-General does have independent political power and cites the 1975 sacking of the elected Government without reference to our head of state. She writes the system goes back to colonial days, with power supposedly reverting back to Britain, but no longer works - it needs to be fixed.
- 13 April 2008: Quentin Bryce is announced as our first woman Governor-General to take up her job in September 2008. Fantastic to have a woman (finally catching up with Canada and New Zealand) but shame that this reputed republican is beholden to our foreign head of state. Let's hope that by the end of her term in 2013, we are well on the way to becoming a Republic with our own head of state.
- 11 April 2008: ACT republican, Margaret Rolfe, tells another letter writer to The Canberra Times that the vote against the republic in 1999 was not an overwhelming "no". She says it was the vote of those who were against a particular model for the head of state joined with those who were against any form of republic and that surveys show that the majority do want a republic now.
- 11 April 2008: Michelle Grattan writes that even if the Prime Minister does want a republic, he knows that he must tread carefully and ensure that the momentum for change comes from the people not the Government. She thinks some Labor Ministers are minimalists and that all the devil will be in what's acceptable to the Government for selecting the head of state. ["A difficult tie to break, The Age, page 13]
- 7 April 2008: The Age's Michelle Grattan accompanying the Prime Minister on his first overseas trip writes from London that the PM is 'king of cool on the republic" because he would not say that he would push for Australia to become a republic on the eve of an audience with the Queen, our Head of State but that we'd get there eventually [The Age page 4].
- 30 March 2008: WfaAR is disappointed by George Williams' article in the Sydney Morning Herald, "Frozen Continent" [SMH 29/30 March 2008], in which he talks down the prospects of the Government's list of items for constitutional change, particularly those of the Republic. Professor Williams, a constitutional lawyer, is also a member of ARM's National Council. This is not good enough! All republican advocates should be positive about the Republic, all the time. WfaAR is very confident, in spite of the history, that a republic referendum held after at least one non-binding indicative vote to set the framework for the Republic (title of head of state; method for selecting head of state; what head of state is to be called etc) will get across the line easily. The people want to vote YES this time. Read our letter sent to the SMH, not published.
- 29 March 2008: Professor Kim Rubenstein, Director of the Centre for International and Public Law at the ANU and adviser to WfaAR, delivers the Dymphna Clark Lecture at the Manning Clark House annual Weekend of Ideas. She talked about a "republic of equals", the connection between women and the full expression of citizenship in an Australian Republic. Read her paper here.
- 28 March 2008: No active women republican advocates are invited to attend the 2020 Summit. In fact, there's only one prominent male republican among the 85 participants in the Governance Group
- 25 March 2008: WfaAR writes to the Prime Minister offering to canvass our ideas with him for implementing the Republic. We say that we do not confine our interests to the best model for head of state but see the adoption of a new republican constitution to be deeply significant in the change to a republican form of government. Read the text here.
- 6 March 2008: Professor Larissa Behrendt of University of Technology Sydney says in an opinon piece in the National Indigenous Times that the unfinished business of the Australian Republic is the perfect opportunity to settle "other outstanding matters". She writes that Australia "will not mature into a 'just society' until the nation-building processes have included Aboriginal people. Evolving into a republic is a moment that offers this opportunity. And it will also be the moment many other sectors of the community excluded from the original nation-building exercise can also place their stamp on the country." Larissa was the ARM's 2005 National Republican Lecturer. Read her article in full at www.nit.com.au (search the archive on Larissa Behrendt 6 March 2008)
- 14 February 2008: A group of women advocates for the republic writes to the Prime Minister with suggestions for making the selection process for the Governor-General more open and more transparent. They suggest a website for nominations from the public with guidelines for proposers, announcing the shortlist at a suitable time in the process and involving the Leader of the Opposition in the decision. Writers include individuals, academics and the Sydney-based group Women Into Politics (www.womenintopolitics.org.au), which has been actively lobbying for a woman-friendly selection process for the President for some years, and supported by WfaAR.
- 13 February 2008: National Apology to the Stolen Generations Day and the first step towards Reconciliation. A very inspiring and heartening occasion. Surely, a country reconciled between black and white will be the Commonwealth reconstituted as a Republic. That is WfaAR's fervent hope and long-held objective.
- 5 February: WfaAR writes to the Prime Minister about adding "the republic" to the list of topics for the Australia 2020 summit to be held in Canberra 19-20 April. We state that at least half the 1000 participants should be women.
- 2 February: Lisa Pryor, a journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald says it's time for us to "make a decision about the the kind of future we want as a state and as a nation. The time has come for structural reform, a genuine change in the way we do things." She recommends a Royal Commission into the entire system from top to bottom. ["Nothing less than a Royal Commission into languishing system will do", Lisa Pryor, SMH]
- 30 January: WfaAR writes to the Prime Minister about the appointment of the next Governor-General asking him to hold a public nomination process, appoint a small committee to assist him come up with the shortlist of nominations (at least half of which are women) and to discuss the appointment with the Opposition Leader before it is announced. We have also urged the PM to pursue women and Indigenous candidates noting that it's high time a woman was appointed to the job. Read our letter to the PM here.
- 27 January: WfaAR is strongly critical of remarks made by former ARM head and now prominent parliamentarian, Malcolm Turnbull, that the catalyst for the republic will be the death of the Queen. The comments received unfortunately wide media coverage. We point out to Mr Turnbull that at least three catalytic events for the republic have already taken place: the 1967 referendum recognising Aboriginal people as citizens; the Governor-General dismissing the Whitlam Government in 1975 and the Bicentennary of white settlement in 1988. Each of these events left deep marks on the Australian psyche and has altered our national identity to the point where changes in the structure of our government are unavoidable. We think that the catalyst for change will come from the Australian people, not from events 12,000 miles away. We expect Mr Turnbull to be promoting the republic during the first term of the Rudd Government and working cooperatively within the federal government, of which he is part, to bring it about.
- 26 January: Victorian republican advocate, Kerry Lovering, is awarded an OAM in the Australia Day honours list for services to women. Kerry is an active member of ARM.
- 26 January: Ausflag - the organisation searching for a truly Australian flag - announces its revival. Their website can be found at www.ausflag.com.au. WfaAR supports a new Australian flag as an important symbol of the republic and is pleased to see Ausflag back in business.
- 22 January: there was no opinion poll on support for the republic this year - see previous January items for results of earlier polls.
- 20 January 2008: The Prime Minister says he won't appoint a politician - or former politician - as the next Governor-General. As the present G-G plans to leave office in August this year, this will be a big test for the new PM because replacing the Head of State's representative will be an early indicator of his ability to deal with contentious symbolic issues and desire to promote government renewal. That announcement immediately triggered media speculation about possible names. Phillip Adams went for women: Germaine Greer (GG for GG) or Lowitja O'Donoghue. WfaAR strongly supports a woman being appointed as the next Governor-General and a more public selection process than seen at any time since Federation. Both Canada and New Zealand have had women Governors-General, so why can't we? There's no shortage of good women candidates. ["If Bomber won't do, let's have Germaine." Phillip Adams in The Australian, 22 January 2008]
- 24 November 2007: The new Labor Government supports the formation of an Australian Republic, which is both refreshing and encouraging for Republicans after 11 years of Government opposition. However, Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said the day before the election that the Republic would not be a priority for his Government. WfaAR will be lobbying the Prime Minister to get the work on the plebiscites started, for a Government response to the 2004 Senate Inquiry and will urge the PM to open up selection processes for the next Governor-General due to be appointed around mid 2008. New Government Ministers vowed to work for the benefit of the Commonwealth but did not swear allegiance to the Queen. Hopes for across-the-board support for the Republic in the next Parliament were dashed when Dr Brendan Nelson, a long-time supporter of the monarchy, was voted in as the new Opposition Leader.
- 5 November 2007: On the eve of the eighth anniversary of the 1999 referendum, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja (SA) releases the Australian Democrats' policy on the Republic for the 2007 election. The Democrats propose that the first stage vote on the Republic be held at the same time as the referendum on constitutional recognition of our Indigenous peoples, supported by both the current Government and Opposition and timed for around mid 2009. There would be a non-binding vote based on this question: "Do you want Australia to become a Republic?" The Democrats' announcement is the first specific policy to advance the national vote on the Republic. The Democrats also say that the vote would be followed by public consultation about different models for Head of State before a referendum on the Republic is held. WfaAR supports the Democrats' proposal - it's good to see a clear plan to move the Republic forward beyond statements of general support.
Other major parties which also support Australia becoming a Republic are the Australian Labor Party and the Greens (see News Item of 25 July 2007 below).
- 29 October 2007: With biennial ARM Branch Council elections completed in all States and the ACT, fewer women are holding official positions than before. Two Branches out of seven have female convenors - SA and Tas. In the ACT, there are two women out of eight Branch Council members; in NSW, one (total 6); in Victoria, one (11); in Qld, one (9); in WA, four (9); SA one (4) and in Tasmania, one (4), making women only in WA, SA Tas and the ACT around 25% of Branch Council membership. This corresponds with the drop in female representation on the ARM's National Council, that currently has no women elected members. This is not a good state of affairs for republican leaders who should reflect the make-up of Australian society (women are over 50% of the Australian population). One present member of National Council has a non Anglo-Celtic background but there are no Indigenous representatives.
- 15 September 2007: Republic Rocks! ACT ARM hosted Rock for Republic in central Canberra with great bands enthusiastically supporting the cause. The day, which raised awareness about the Republic, was organised by ANU Republic Club members and dedicated republicans, Kate Holloman and Pip Blackwood.
- 25 July 2007: At at backyard gathering with three families in suburban Melbourne, Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, undertakes to hold a referendum on the Republic. He said that the question was too confusing last time and, even though not a "first order issue", Labor plans another vote if they win this years federal election. Greens Leader, Senator Bob Brown, came out in support saying that the Greens would vote with Labor in the Senate to ensure that the referendum proposal gets up.
- 2 July 2007: English writer and former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, Tina Brown, writes in her new book, "The Diana Chronicles", about "the British Royal Family's relationship with its sometimes restless former dominion". She also reveals that Prince William would like to be the Governor-General, our Head of State's representative in Australia [reported in "Diana, the life and death of an icon" by David Leser, Australian Women's Weekly, July 2007]. This news got a pretty cool reception in all quarters. Leading politicians said that only an Australian citizen should/could do the job. WfaAR thinks this suggestion, if true, shows how out of the touch the royals are with the Land Down Under.
- 11 June 2007: Dr Jane Connors, a social historian from the University of Sydney, talks about different types of monarchists on ABC radio. She distinguishes between popular monarchists (mainly women who follow the doings of royal families and the cult of celebrity "exasperating generations of Australian republicans") and constitutional monarchists who believe that place of the British monarchy at the apex of our system of government is right. [Morning Interview with Margaret Throsby on ABC Classic FM]. Dr Connors wrote on this subject for ABC Online in the lead up to the Constitutional Convention (ConCon) in 1998. Other women writing for ABC Online at that time were Faith Bandler (see item of 25 May below); Elspeth Cameron; Irene Moss; Barbara Greenwood and Helen Razer covering a wide range of views on the Republic. Read their essays here.
- 25 May 2007: ABC Classic FM host, Margaret Throsby, replays a 1995 interview with writer and political activist, Faith Bandler, who led and campaigned tirelessly for the 1967 referendum question on recogition of Aboriginal people. Faith Bandler said that she was a republican and that she was putting some energy into it. She thought that the Republic was important, but not the most important thing for
Australia: employment, better chances for the poor, better opportunities for women and banning of arms sales were all more important. Faith Bandler had a South Sea Islander father and an Indian-Scottish mother and she married a refugee from Europe, who was Jewish, in the 1950s. Now 89, she has integrity, dignity, wisdom, charm and a most engaging personality. What a great first president of the Australian Republic she would have made! (The one successful question in the 1967 referendum, with 90% of voters saying YES, made constitutional changes to count Aboriginal people in the national population census and give the federal Government power to make laws for the benefit of Aboriginal people. Rights activists like Faith Bandler had campaigned for this change since the 1930s. This is one of only eight successful changes made to the constitution by referendum since Federation in 1901.)
- 17 April 2007: The reported break-up between Ms Kate Middleton and Prince William, second in line to become Australia's Head of State, stirs republican sentiment. Michelle Lensink, Liberal Member of the Legislative Council in South Australia writes to the Adelaide Advertiser: "According to 'Mum's faux pas causes split' (The Advertiser 17 April 2007), so Carole Middleton saying 'pleased to meet you' and calling a lavatory, a 'toilet' offends the British Royal Family and therefore Kate is not worthy to become William's wife? What more proof do Australians need that their values are not in line with ours? Bring on the republic!"
- 13 April 2007: At an investiture in Canberra to receive a Companion of the Order of Australia, prominent Perth businesswoman and arts patron, Janet Holmes a Court, said Australians could be ready for another referendum on the Republic: " We have our own national anthem, we have got our own High Court, we've got our own honours system, we just have an attachment to the Queen and the monarchy - and I am a huge fan of the Queen - and many Australians think it's
time we severed that tie and become totally independent. I think we are approaching a time when we can think about it again. I think there are plenty of people who haven't stopped thinking about it. We need to work out a model that is acceptable to all Australians." Mrs Holmes a Court campaigned for the Republic during the 1999 referendum
and was an elected ARM delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1998. ["Republic: many say it's time" by Kate Hannon and Claire Low, The Canberra Times, 14 April 2007]
- 20 February 2007: Having been dropped from the Ministry, Senator Amanda Vanstone signals that she intends to pursue some issues "dear to her heart and Australia's identity" after this years federal election. One of them is the Republic. Senator Vanstone favours the most minimal change with the Governor-General becoming Head of State (still called Governor-General), chosen by the Prime Minister alone. However, she supports a national debate about the powers of the top job and the method of selection and says it's time for the matter to be raised again now that it's nearly 10 years since the 1999 referendum. ["Amanda for All Seasons" interview with Paul Daley, The Bulletin, 20 February 2007]. Senator Vanstone resigned from federal Parliament in April 2007 before being appointed Australia's Ambassador to Italy.
- 26 January 2007: National Chair of ARM, Ted O'Brien, manages a women's angle on the Republic writing in The Age. Talking about Australia's Head of State, he says, "the office discriminates against women. Despite Australia
first granting women the right to vote and to stand in elections as early as 1894, we remain bound by British laws relating to royal succession that grant male heirs precedence over female heirs. In other words, Queen Elizabeth is Australia's head of state simply because she did not have a brother. The notion that a woman can only be trusted for the top job when there are no men available is not only absurd, but it fails to comply with Australia's Sex Discrimination Act." Great to see Ted picking up the feminist argument, so keep up the good work ARM.
- 23 January 2007: The Prime Minister drops Senator Amanda Vanstone from Cabinet and the federal Ministry. This is a loss for the republican cause as Senator Vanstone was a consistent supporter of the Republic after the
1999 referendum and often the only Liberal Minister to speak publicly of her enthusiasm for the change.
- 21 January 2007: This years version of the annual Australia Day Newspoll published in The Australian did not disaggregate support for the republic by gender as in previous years, see our item of 21 January 2006 below. The 2007 poll showed support for the republic static at 45% (total) with 36% against and 19% uncommitted.
- 26 December: The British film "The Queen" opens throughout Australian cinemas. Directed by Stephen Frears, who says he is a dedicated queenist - not a monarchist - and starring Helen Mirren, the film has enjoyed modest success, way behind the remake of Casino Royale. The jury is out about whether it helps or hinders the Australian republican cause. All we can say is that the main character, particularly when foregrounding a massive horned stag in the grounds of Balmoral, appears quintessentially English and completely removed from the land of droughts and flooding rains.
- 7 December: Another update on the Government's response to "The road to a republic" is tabled in the Senate. This time the annotation is: "the Government's response is being considered and will be tabled in due course"
following the 22 June notice: "The response will be tabled in due course". Six monthly updates on outstanding reports are tabled in the Senate at the end of sessions. WfaAR notes that the the three month target for the Government's response (February 2005) has now been well exceeded.
- 29 November: Dr Rebecca Huntley gives the 2006 National Republican Lecture in Canberra. Her talk: "Trust Matters: Politics, Trust and the Republican Cause" discusses the reasons why young people are not interested in the Republic and their apathy about politics in general. Her suggestion is to focus on local politics engaging community and non-government organisations such as church and school groups, environmental and sporting organisations. She concludes by saying that the direct election model is undoubtedly a better fit for a generation
enthusiastic about direct democracy. Read Rebecca's talk here
- 24 November: ARM announces its new National Council for the next two years.
Three of the nine elected members are women: Jaci Barker, Louisa Graham and Lynne Minion who join the four female State convenors on Council: Julie Armstrong (WA); Shannon Schedlich-Day (SA), Lisa Singh (Tas) and Annie Tennant (NSW), making a total of seven women out of 16 on National Council. Louisa Graham from Sydney was later elected Junior Deputy Chair.
- 23 November: A reply is received from the Prime Minister's Office to our letter of 2 October (see below) telling us that "...the Government has no current intention to propose constitutional change on the republic in the future". It also says that the Government intends to respond to the 2004 Senate Committee report "The road to a republic" in due course.
- 4-5 November: National Convenor, Sarah Brasch, attended the third Republican Gathering held in Brisbane. Together with Judith Brooks from Victoria, Sarah presented a session on women and the development of the Republic in which it was argued that alternating women and men for head of state, set out in the Constitution so that it cannot be easily removed, would demonstrate a true commitment to equality in the new Republic. Sarah also spoke about her vision for The 2015 Republic, using the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli to create a model for a fair, just and protective Republic promising a new start for a united and inclusive Australian democracy (as opposed to a model just for selecting the head of state). Other sessions at the Gathering covered national days of celebration and symbols with a big emphasis on wattle; engaging people living in regional and rural areas as well as young people in the Republic; getting the States to become more republican and convincing politicians to promote the cause, especially those on the conservative side.
- 2 October 2006: Women for an Australian Republic writes to the Prime Minister to enquire about the progress made to date in preparing the Government's response to the 2004 Senate Inquiry report: "The road to a republic" and when it will be tabled in Parliament.
- 18 June 2006: The ABC concludes a two-part British documentary on the Queen
in her 80th year. Republican supporters could observe that not only is the Queen very active as the United Kingdom's Head of State but that her actions primarily take place in the UK or are focussed on representing the UK's interests overseas. She is visible and prominent in the lives of her subjects in the UK and in a way that neither she nor her Australian representative, resident in Westbourne Woods in Canberra, are for her
subjects in Australia. Before her March 2006 four-day visit to Australia, the Queen invited a large group of Australians (living in England) to attend a reception at Buckingham Palace so that she could get to know some
- 8 June 2006: Former Governor-General, Sir Zelman Cowen says that he would
reluctantly support direct election if it helped Australia to break its outdated ties with the British monarchy which he describes as "incompatible with our independent status". This is a change from his previous support for parliamentary selection of the Head of State. Sir Zelman also says in
his memoirs that there needs to be "public education to promote understanding and discussion of the question: what kind of republic do we want?" (reported in The Australian). WfaAR is encouraged that this view is
increasingly being raised in public discussion about the Australian Republic.
- 1-2 April 2006: WfaAR representatives attend the second Republic Gathering in
Canberra. We made the point that republicans should not be taken in by pronouncements from politicians saying that the Republic is out of the question until the Queen dies. WfaAR also spoke on these topics:
Reconciliation and the Republic; the Republic and National Identity and about where the debate on models for Head of State is heading. On the relevance of the Republic for our Indigenous Peoples, we noted how similar
the objectives of others are to those of women pursuing a Republic, that is: a republican constitution offering a new start and the involvement of all citizens in its development. On whether the Republic can define our national identity, we consider that it can't - rather it's the other way round: when we can work out what our national identity is, that should lead us naturally to want a republican form of government. And on the debate about models for head of state, we likened it to men endlessly tinkering with their car engines, all claiming that theirs is the best. WfaAR thinks that the essential issue for the republic debate is what an Australian Republic will be like, not how we select our head of state.
- 21 March 2006: Phyllida Ives of Torrens ACT joins in the renewed attention to the republic during the Games. She writes to The Canberra Times commenting on the Prime Minister's observation in an interview with the BBC that Australia would become a republic when Queen Elizabeth II is gone. She says that John Howard " could have been the PM who brought Australia into the 21st century with a rewritten constitution (albeit a republic)" but now that task will be done by one of his successors.
- 15 March 2006: The republican debate lit up with the Queen of Australia's visit, in her role as head of the Commonwealth, for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Which country was she was barracking for? Controversy erupted over the playing of the Australian national anthem at the opening ceremony. Senior Liberal Minister and republican, Senator Amanda Vanstone, said rightly that God Save the Queen should be played. God Save the Queen is Australia's royal anthem played whenever the Queen of Australia is present. Australians should listen to it often and dwell on its words: "send her victorious" and "long to reign over us" when forming an opinion about the republic.
- 14 March and 17 March 2006: Two Australian women speak practically about the campaign for the republic. Anne Henderson, Deputy Chair of the Australian Republican Movement writes under the headline "Royals welcome as guests, not masters" in The Australian while Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja, who is also a member of ARM National Council, concludes in The Canberra Times that
"A Republic will only come from hard work".
- 14 March 2006: An unexpected observation by a woman about the desirability of an Australian Republic? The Queen makes a short speech at a formal dinner in the Great Hall of Parliament House in Canberra in which she describes Australia as "a great country" and "a key global player in the twenty-first century, a voice of wisdom and honesty, a tough and dependable operator" which is widely interpreted - more in Britain than in Australia - that it is time for "constitutional change", with the subtext: that it is time to become a republic. The speech is made from the perspective of an
outside observer. Reactions to the content vary but some Australian commentators find it patronising.
- 7 March 2006: The New South Wales Parliament passes legislation amending the NSW Constitution requiring new members to take a pledge of loyalty to the State and to Australia rather than to the Queen.
- 30 January 2006: Barbara McGarity of NSW suggests that for the Queen's 80th birthday, the Prime Minister should ask her to relinquish her role as Queen of Australia. Read her unpublished letter to The Australian here
- 26 January 2006: Elaine Thompson writes a feature article in The Sydney Morning Herald saying of course, it's time to become a republic because of its symbolic significance. She correctly pinpoints an overhaul of the whole constitution as essential to the development of the republic and calls for regular constitutional conventions. Elaine was formerly an academic at the University of New South Wales. Read an extract of her article.
- 25 January 2006: The Prime Minister calls for better teaching of
Australian history in schools. WfaAR agrees. It should include our proud - and extensive - republican history since 1788.
- 23 January 2006: Lorna Denham of Cardiff Heights NSW writes to The Sydney Morning Herald: "The republicans must have paid a monachist to invent their new truly awful slogan 'A Mate for Head of State'. Barbara McGarity of Turramurra NSW complains online 'I don't know what sort of fools are currently active in the republican movement but they think they can revitalise their campaign by calling it 'Mate for Head of State'. This will antagonise many women." Next Barbara wrote a letter to The Editor to underline her point, read her letter and online contributions here. A male correspondent to the SMH said that if the head of state is a mate, and if he has a supply of free tickets to the footy and cricket, could he please pass them on to him and his other mates? WfaAR thinks this hit the nail right on the head and couldn't put it better.
- 21 January 2006: The latest Newspoll on the Republic is published in The Australian. 43 percent of women were strongly or partly in favour of Australian becoming a Republic, 20 percent uncommitted compared with 49 percent of men, 19 percent uncommitted. When Charles and Camilla were
factored in, support increased. 50 percent of women were in favour compared with 55 percent of men; 19 percent and 18 percent respectively uncommitted. The poll was conducted by telephone, in all States, city and country areas; 1200 interviews (sampling error + or - 3 percent)
- 19 January 2006: Women for an Australian Republic strongly voiced its opposition to the ARM about the Mate for Head of State slogan but it fell on deaf ears. ARM, which considers any publicity about the republic to be good publicity, responded when Deputy Chair, Anne Henderson, took to crikey.com to admonish critics by saying that only a few cafe-latte sipping women in Sydney and Melbourne could possibly object to use of the word "mate" (has she forgotten the monarchist taunts about the
chardonnay-sipping elites supporting the republic during 1999?) and that because four women had helped to organise it, all was OK. No, it wasn't. ARM must do better and try harder to represent women's interests
in the republic. Was nothing learned from the "mateship in the Preamble" debacle in 1999?
- 18 January 2006: The "Mate for Head of State" campaign is launched as an annual republic support day on the Sunday before Australia Day. The slogan, supported by the ARM who couldn't see what was wrong with it, spoilt an otherwise good idea. This slogan sends completely the wrong
message. Women aren't going to vote for the Republic if they think it's a vote for "a mate". Our current head of state isn't our mate and our own head of state shouldn't be either. We are dealing with the head of the nation not the boss cocky of the local football club. Better slogans would be "Republic Now", "Let's Govern Ourselves" or best of all: "E-lect the Pres-i-dent".
- 12 January 2006: The British Parliament denies women the same rights of succession to the throne as men saying that it was not necessary because the heir and his heir are male. As Allison Henry National Director of ARM commented, this does not comply with Australia's
Sex Discrimination law so why does it apply to our head of state, determined by a foreign legislature without consulting or involving people here?
- 1 January 2006: New Western Australian legislation making it optional for members of State Parliament to refer to God or the Queen in their oath of allegiance comes into effect.
- 1 December 2005: Nicola Roxon's address to the new parliamentary republic
group is printed in The Australian. She says their goal is to provide a
non-partisan, cross-party forum for members of parliament who support
having an Australian head of state, to play an educative role and to keep
the issue on the constitutional agenda. WfaAR would like to see this group
broaden its agenda to the Republic in general and what that means for
Australia rather than confine their interests to a home-grown head of state.
- 30 November 2005: Emma Tom concludes in her opinion piece in The Australian
that the down-to-earth farm worker Wendy Slack-Smith, who was runner-up in
the Australian Princess competion (a reality TV show) to become hitched to
a rich Englishman, could put her skills to much better use as..... the
first president of the republic. She is described as "a fine human being".
- 20 November 2005: a cross-party parliamentary republic support group is
launched in the national parliament in Canberra. Two of the three
convenors are women: Senator Natasha Stott Despoja (Democrats SA) and Ms
Nicola Roxon, ALP Member for Gellibrand in the lower house and shadow
Attorney-General. They are joined by Senator Mitch Fifield (Liberal Vic).
- 26 October 2005: a poll in a tabloid newspaper finds former Aussie, Crown
Princess Mary of Denmark, is preferred to Prince Charles as Australia's
next head of state.
- 12-13 August 2005: Women for an Australian Republic was represented at a
meeting of all republican groups. WfaAR identified its priorities as
passion for the campaign; action at grass roots level not just lobbying
directed at politicians; working together on the hard issues and
identifying ways to sustain campaigners on the road ahead. We cautioned
that the Republic should mean a lot more to people than merely working out
a way to select the head of state and that women and Indigenous people had
to be involved in all aspects of creating the Republic.
- 6 August 2005: ARM National Director, Allison Henry, was invited to be one
of two young women working in the political sphere, who spoke in Old
Parliament House Canberra to celebrate the 30th anniversary of
International Women's Year in 1975.
- 24 June 2005: Prominent New Zealanders, among them former
Governor-General Dame Cath Tizzard, call for a new flag to distinguish it from the
Australian flag. Prime Minister Helen Clark went further saying that she would like the
Union Jack to be removed. NZFlag has launched a petition to secure 300,000 signatures for
a referendum to be held on the flag at this years general election in New Zealand. For
more information: www.nzflag.com
- 11 June 2005: Pam Casellas writing in The West Australian reports
that the Governor-elect is urging Western Australians to engage in constructive debate
about Australia becoming a republic. His pre-decessor had similar views. This is
encouraging news from the West: WA voted strongly against the Republic in the 1999
- 15 April: Practical steps towards severing ties with the British
monarchy quietly continue to be implemented. Last year, the NSW Branch of the Country
Women's Association voted to stop singing God Save the Queen at meetings, the National
Song Poll (plebiscite) having chosen Advance Australia Fair as the national anthem in
1977! Following the example of other States, the NSW and WA parliaments are currently
considering omitting reference to the Queen from the oath of allegiance for
parliamentarians and public officials. In NSW, Crown land is now called State land. Senior
Counsel has for some time replaced the term Queen's Counsel (Sourced from John Warhurst's
weekly column in The Canberra Times)
- 6 April: That tireless republican, Senator Amanda Vanstone, renews
her call for an Australian Republic albeit one that entails minimal changes to the
Constitution to install an Australian head of state. Senator Vanstone, a senior Minister
in the Howard Government, cautioned republicans against bagging the monarchy and
monarchists in a speech at the University of Adelaide. Elizabeth Colman writing in The
Australian also reported that Senator Vanstone is understood to be considering "a
full-scale campaign to back the push [involving other Coalition MPs in a new cross-party
support group] including the distribution of T shirts with a picture of the Queen and the
slogan: "if you love her, set her free".
- 11 March: The official visit of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and
her husband to Australia winds up. The 33 year old Hobart-born royal was a huge hit with
crowds of women who turned out to greet and see her in a replay of the Diana-mania that
fixated the country in 1983. Among detailed and lengthy descriptions of her glamorous
wardrobe, Princess Mary was described as turning out in a "flirty white skirt"
to view a mob of kangaroos in the grounds of Government House in Canberra. This again
highlights the eagerness of Australian women to be seduced by the romance of monarchy and
the "princess for a day" syndrome so beloved of local women's magazines - and it
does not bode well for the next republic referendum. Even mature commentators and letter
writers took leave of their senses and called for Australia to become part of the Kingdom
of Denmark in order to adopt Mary and Frederik as our heads of state. In contrast, the
immediately following but more business-focussed and less photographed visit of Crown
Princess Victoria, heir to the Swedish throne, hardly raised a jot of interest.
- 3 March: Allison Henry, National Director of the ARM, speaks at The
Sydney Institute about Prince Charles' visit. She contends that Charles knows and has
known for some time that Australia's "borrowed monarchy" has worn out its
welcome, referring to remarks that he made about Australia's apparent preference for a
republic on his last visit in 1994. She thinks that swinging voters stick with the Queen
but will vote republican when they contemplate King Charles III on the English throne. An
extract of her speech was published in The Age.
- 2 March: Nicola Roxon, Labor Shadow Attorney-General, writes about
Charles as a relic of another era and claims that his visit was completely overshadowed by
that of the future Queen of Denmark in a feature article in The Australian. She says that
the simultaneous royal visits command us to think again about our odd Constitution which
provides for someone so far away, so disconnected with our country as our head of state.
And she outlines Labor's approach to the change: expansion of the debate by going back to
the basics and asking what we think the role of our head of state should be; what powers
should they have and what should be their relationship to the Government? Should their
powers be limited by words in the Constitution or simply by convention? Should we codify
the existing system or opt for another model like the one in Ireland?
- 26 February: The impending British royal marriage has a dramatic
impact on support for an Australian republic - factor in Charles and Camilla and women's
support for an Australian republic skyrockets! A Galaxy Research survey published in The
Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) with a sample size of 400 adults over 16 throughout Australia
shows 50 percent of female respondents in favour, 17 percent uncommitted and 33 percent
against when asked "If Prince Charles and Camilla were Australia's head of state,
would you be in favour of Australia becoming a republic?" (note that 64 percent of
women compared with 59 percent of men were in favour of Charles stepping aside for
William). In the same survey, 44 percent of women compared with 53 percent of men were in
favour of Australia becoming a republic and when asked when the next referendum should be:
33 percent of women (43 percent men) nominated in this term of parliament; 45 percent of
women (41 percent of men) opted for the next 3 to 10 years; 16 percent of women (10
percent of men) said "never" and six percent of both sexes were undecided.
- 18 February: Polly Toynbee writes in The Guardian Weekly that she
wished Charles and Camilla had eloped to Gretna Green to avoid the avalanche of
"monarchalia". She ponders whether Camilla is planning a quick trip to the IVF
clinic in Rome that supplies babies to the post-menopausal and labels this all rather
disgusting "and certainly not a dignified way of arriving at who should be head of
state." She calls upon Prime Minister Blair to set up a constitutional convention
after the next general election to look at the question of a second British republic. She
says that Charles is not warmly embraced as the next monarch and few care one way or
another about his marriage. She hopes that Camilla will be a wise influence on Charles and
speculates that the marriage will be a watershed reopening debate about the monarchy. She
thinks that if Charles were clever "he might convene a great constitutional
convention himself. The very least he might propose is a referendum to gain the consent of
the people before ascending the throne" - WfaAR comment: now there's a novel use for
- 11 February: The announcement of Prince Charles' (future King Charles
III of Australia) marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles (possibly to be our Queen Camilla) on
8 April brought a new flurry of republican sentiment and increased membership for
republican groups. Jenny Katauskas of Wahroonga NSW had her views published in The
Australian - click here.
- 7 February: The Prime Minister of Barbados announces that voters
would be involved in making the decision on whether Barbados would become a republic by
the end of 2005 taking the country "to a higher and mature plane of political
development". It is proposed that Barbados become a parliamentary republic with a
ceremonial head of state while remaining a member of the Commonwealth. The small Caribbean
island (pop 275,000) was colonized by Britain in the 1600s and became independent in 1966.
The idea of a republic was first explored by a constitutional review in 1979. A second
review in 1996 found that Barbadians were in favour of electing their head of state
(report by AAP Reuters).
- 28 January: Senator Lyn Allison, leader of the Democrats, speaks in
favour of the Republic in response to the Newspoll results published on Australia Day. Kim
Beazley replaces Mark Latham as Leader of the Opposition and publicly states his
continuing support for an Australian Republic.
- 26 January 2005: A Newspoll published in The
Australian asked people if they were in favour of Australia becoming a republic. 40
percent of women were either strongly or partly in favour with 38 percent against and 22
percent uncommitted (this compares with 51 percent of men in favour, 33 percent against
and 16 percent uncommitted; overall 46 percent of those polled were in favour with 19
percent uncommitted). The sample size was 1200 in all States; adults aged over 18 and
taken in both city and country areas. This is the lowest level of support for this
question recorded by Newspoll since July 1999 with support previously running consistently
in the low 50 percents since August 1999 just before the referendum.
- 30 December 2004: Australian newspapers reported that letters of
credential and recall for Canadian ambassadors would be addressed to and approved by the
Governor General, Hong Kong-born Adrienne Clark, rather than to Queen Elizabeth II who is
also Queen of Canada. One of main reasons for the change was considered to be Canada's
significant immigration from Asia since the 1980s.
- 6 December: - Celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the Eureka
Stockade again focus attention on the Republic and the lingering impact of British
colonization. Christine Shaw of Woronora NSW put forward her views on the outdated design
of the Australian flag: "When we really get ourselves organised and ditch our ties to
England, may we please nominate the Eureka flag for our national flag. It's a
beauty." she wrote to The Sydney Morning Herald.
- 20 November: Can a monarchy be modern? Recent utterances by Prince
Charles, who will be Australia's next head of state under the current arrangements, bring
a new round of questioning about the relevance of monarchy to contemporary government.
Joan Smith writing in The Independent (UK) newspaper summed it up this way: "With his
spectacularly undistinguished career, disasterous marital history and grandiose
self-delusions, Prince Charles is a prime candidate for therapy. What he most decidedly
does not look like is a modern head of state."
- 18 November: State Premier, Paul Lennon (Labor), announces the new
Governor of Tasmania following the resignation of controversial republican, Richard
Butler. There was consultation with the leaders of the Opposition Liberal and Greens
parties before the appointment was recommended to the Queen, a first for the State.
- 18 November: Senator Natasha Stott Despoja (SA) speaks in The Senate
about the recommendations of "The road to a republic", the findings of the
Senate Inquiry into the Republic. Her remarks can be found at www.aph.gov.au, Senate Hansard for 18 November, pages
140 to 142.
- 18 November: "I believe we must prioritise reconciliation with
our Indigenous community, embrace the diversity of our multicultural society and place
confidence in our nation to be a strong and independent republic" - first speech made
by new Labor member for Adelaide, 27 year old Kate Ellis in the House of Representatives.
Other new members elected in the 2004 federal election to support the republic in their
first speeches were former ARM Chair, Malcolm Turnbull (Liberal, Wentworth NSW); Convenor
of Conservatives for an Australian Head of State, Andrew Robb (Liberal, Goldstein Vic) and
former Midnight Oil lead singer and conservationist, Peter Garrett (Labor, Kingsford Smith
NSW). The full text of first speeches can be found on members' sites at www.aph.gov.au, click on Who's Who.
- 13 November: Prime Minister Helen Clark announces a constitutional
stocktake in New Zealand. There are two very good background papers about the reasons for
the review including issues such as the British monarch as NZ's head of state, appointment
of the Governor General by the British Monarch and the symbolism of the Union Jack on the
flag - all familiar to Australian republicans - to be found at www.beehive.govt.nz (search under Helen
Clark/November 2004). Around 40 percent of New Zealanders are believed to support election
of the head of state. The Republican Movement of Aotearoa New Zealand (which supports
direct or indirect election of the head of state) is following the progress of the
constitutional inquiry on its website at www.republic.org.nz
- the patron of the organisation is Keri Hulme, a writer and fisher. In June 2004, the NZ
Justice Minister announced a proposal to modernise oaths sworn by MPs, Ministers, new
- 6 November: The fifth anniversary of the Republic referendum - and so
republicans move on, prepared for success and still passionate to achieve an Australian
Republic with an Australian President.
- 25 October: Liberal Cabinet Minister and determined life-long
republican, Amanda Vanstone had a new take on an old theme at an address given at Burgmann
College at the Australian National University. Speaking about the Queen, she said:
"If you love this woman, then set her free", a message for all non-republicans
to take to heart.
- 7 October: Dr Germaine Greer, discusses the concept of Australia
becoming an Aboriginal republic at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra. She added
that if this now sounded a ridiculous proposition, it should be remembered that an
indigenous republic in South Africa would have seemed equally inconceivable 50 years ago.
Dr Greer's latest book 'Whitefella Jump Up' tells Australians to wake up and realise that
Australia's identity crisis could be saved by learning understanding from our Indigenous
peoples (reported by David Seale in The Canberra Times).
- 1 September: The Senate Inquiry on the Republic releases its 181 page
report: "The Road to a Republic". One third of the 24 recommendations are aimed
at improving community engagement in and education about constitutional matters urging the
involvement of adult learning organisations and federal, state and local government. It is
further recommended to use a variety of means/media to educate voters paying particular
attention to ethnicity, gender and age. The report recommends that special efforts need to
be made to ensure that Indigenous people are fully consulted and involved in the proposed
process. Later recommendations on the process for the republic propose three compulsory
votes including two non-binding ones (plebiscites). The first vote would indicate whether
Australia would become a republic; if "yes", the second one would indicate
voters preferred way of choosing the head of state. The next step would be a Drafting
Committee, assisted by constitutional experts, to sort out the remaining issues and come
up with the wording for the final referendum. The Committee's report is available at http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/legcon_ctte/republic03/report/index.htm.
The Committee had three female members: Senators Marise Payne (Liberal NSW), Linda Kirk
(Labor, SA) and Natasha Stott-Despoja (Democrats, SA) all of whom attended the 1998
- 31 August: Allison Henry, ARM National Director, speaks on
Perspectives on ABC's Radio National about non-binding votes (plebiscites) and how they
would advance the cause of the republic by allowing everyone to participate in
decision-making. Read Allison's commentary here.
- 30 August: ARM announces the result of National Council elections.
There were 16 candidates - 8 women and 8 men. Three women were elected: Senator Marise
Payne and Anne Henderson were re-elected and Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja was elected
again after standing down at the last election. Together with Helen Millicer, the ARM
State Convenor from Victoria, that makes a total of four women on the 17 member council.
- 11 August: Professor Hilary Charlesworth from the ANU was guest
speaker at a WfaAR and the ARM Women's Network breakfast in Canberra. Hilary talked about
her experiences in conducting community consultations on the ACT Bill of Rights and what
lessons she would pass on to republicans trying to achieve greater community interest and
involvement in their propositions Here is the text of her speech.
- 30 July: WfaAR provided further information to the Senate Committee
about women delegates to the 1998 Constitutional Convention and on women's participation
in voluntary voting for the Convention delegates in 1997. The results were surprising - in
all States and Territorities the return rate of women's votes was higher than that for
men; in NSW and the NT, it was significantly higher. Read this additional research here.
- 29 June: The next public hearing conducted by the Senate Inquiry into
the Republic is held in Brisbane (the Townsville and Darwin hearings have been cancelled).
Although witnesses again included representatives of Australians for a Constitutional
Monarchy, local ARM representatives and other republicans who did not support the 1999
referendum vote such as Dr Clem Jones, former Lord Mayor of Brisbane and head of The Real
Republic group, again no women will appear before the Inquiry. Transcripts and submissions
are available at http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/legcon_ctte/republic03/index.htm
- 31 May: After five public hearings of the Senate Inquiry into the
Republic, 36 witnesses have appeared before the committee. Only six have been women. In
addition to those listed in the entry for 13/14 April, Janet Holmes a Court and Clare
Thompson were invited to address the committee in Perth on 18 May; Louise Houston
(submission 522) appeared in Adelaide on 19 May while in Hobart on 20 May, there were no
- 14 May: This Country, A Reconciled Republic? a new book by
Mark McKenna is launched at Manning Clark House in Canberra by Gatjil Djerrkura, from
Yirrkala and former Chair of ATSIC, who also wrote the foreword. Djerrkura sadly and
suddenly died at 54, a few days later.
- 13 and 14 April: the first public hearings of the Senate Inquiry into
the Republic are held at Parramatta and Melbourne. Of the 21 people invited to address the
inquiry on these two days, only three are women, Allison Henry, National Director of ARM;
Kerry Jones, Executive Director of Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy and Associate
Professor Kim Rubenstein from the Law Faculty at the University of Melbourne. Read Kim's
submission to the Senate Inquiry here.
- 30 March 2004: Read the Women for an Australian
Republic submission to the Senate Inquiry on the Republic. The submission supports a
direct election model as the most likely to be successful and promotes voluntary voting
and restricted public funding for selection as means of reducing the political mandate of
an elected president and the interest in the job by political parties. A purely ceremonial
head of state is proposed which could just as easily be a woman as a man. Moderate
constitutional change is promoted to bring about a republic, by means of Constitutional
Conventions (at least 50% of fully elected delegates to be women), that will have the
confidence of and be easily understood by voters. Simple and practical approaches to
establishing a republic are proposed. Click here.
- mid December 2003: new Labor leader, Mark Latham, announces that he
will put the republic back on the political agenda if Labor wins office in 2004. Two
non-binding votes and a referendum are proposed in the first three-year term realising the
republic by 2007.
- 18 November: The NSW Women's Forum of the Australian Republican
Movement presents "Women and the Republic", a lunch and panel discussion hosted
by Lisa Forrest, author, broadcaster and Olympian. Speakers were Marise Payne (NSW Liberal
Senator and National Committee member) whose theme was that it was no longer appropriate
to have a British monarch as head of state and discriminatory that only a very small
number of people were qualified to become the British monarch; Anne Henderson (Deputy
Director of the Sydney Institute and ARM Deputy Chair) who wanted her grandchildren to be
able to become head of state; Anna York (NSW President of the National Union of Students)
stating that the views of young people on the republic should to be taken seriously and
Sarah Maddison (national media spokesperson for WEL and lecturer in Australian Politics at
the University of Sydney) who argued that the republic is not a women's issue but that
women want a say and to participate in this important national political debate.
- 30 September: The Senate Inquiry into the Republic has not yet called
for public submissions. An issues paper is being developed to facilitate submissions. For
further details check the website at www.aph.gov.au/senate_legal
. Public hearings will take place early next year. In the meantime, letters of support for
the inquiry can be sent to Committee members: Senators Nick Bolkus, Marise Payne, Linda
Kirk, Natasha Stott Despoja, Ursula Stephens and Nick Scullion. Email to: senator.last firstname.lastname@example.org
- 19 August: A wide-ranging interview on the republic and how it will
benefit women is given by Women for An Australian Republic's Sarah Brasch, for broadcast
on national community radio. The discussion touches on the large number of issues which
have arisen this year about the republic and how Australia's head of state is chosen. Also
covered were the appointment of prominent republic supporter, Richard Butler, as Governor
of Tasmania, the controversial content of speeches made by the new Governor-General and
the increasingly presidential role played by the current Prime Minister.
- 24 July: At the Jessie Street National Women's Library in Sydney,
University of Wollongong academic, Jane Innes, argues that by most criteria Australia is
already a republic and poses the question: how and when will we manage to transcend the
last fragment of our colonial past? Her paper features interviews with five prominent
academics, lawyers and leaders of the labour movement - including Professor Elaine
Thompson of the University of New South Wales - talking about the reasons for the loss of
the 1999 referendum and how the community currently views the republic. Click here to read her paper.
- 21 July: Allison Henry of Sydney is appointed the National Director
of the Australian Republican Movement, the first woman to hold the post. Allison's
background is in law and international relations. She has mostly recently been the
Convenor of ARM in New South Wales after having been involved with the ARM since 1995.
Allison states that her priority is "to continue to rebuild the ARM so that the
organisation is ready for a plebiscite regarding Australia's Head of State" and she
is expected to work closely in building grassroots support for the republic.
- 18 July - Terms of reference for the Senate Inquiry into the Republic
are announced. Please note that the Committee has
not yet called for public submissions - further updates will be provided on this website
as they come to hand.
- 9 July: The Australian Labor Party will conduct a postal ballot in
October to elect its next president and two vice-presidents. The ALP has 45,000 members
nationally who can participate in the first election for senior office holders (reported
by Mike Steketee in The Australian).
- 4 July: Dr Pat O'Shane describes the Australian constitution as
"flawed and grossly inappropriate". She said that our system of government
is not defined and that this is useful to politicians who manipulate people by keeping
them ignorant about the constitution. She also said that "the way the constitution
came into being was a denial of democracy" and went on to question whether Australia
actually is a democracy (reported on ABC News Online www.abc.net.au
). Pat O'Shane is a magistrate in New South Wales, the chancellor of the University of New
England, an indigenous activist and feminist and was a leader in the Yes and More campaign
before the 1999 referendum.
- 17 June: The Australian Democrats (spokesperson on the republic:
Senator Natasha Stott Despoja) and the Australian Labor Party announce they will establish
a Senate Inquiry to examine the best way for Australia to become a republic. The Inquiry
will seek community feedback and give people the opportunity to put forward their
preferred model for the republic. Read the full text of the media release here.
- 8 June: The Australian Republican Movement launches six versions of a
preamble to a republican constitution by Australian authors - three are by women: Delia Falconer, Dorothy Porter and
Leah Purcell. Not one of the six affirms and states "the equality of women and
men" which WfaAR believes is a serious omission although each of texts is commendable
either for its poetry and imagination or for the beauty of its expression and evocation.
(Other preambles were created by novelists: James Bradley, Peter Carey and Richard
- 27 May: The Sydney Morning Herald interviews 50
"prominent" people, 14 of whom are women (click here),
and asks them how the Governor-General should be chosen and their choice for the job.
Women nominated were Lowitja O'Donoghue (former chair of ATSIC); Mary Gaudron (recently
retired High Court judge); Dawn Fraser (former Olympic champion swimmer); Marie Bashir
(Governor of NSW); Elizabeth Evatt (former chief judge of the Family Court and UN
adviser); Professor Fiona Stanley (child health researcher and social commentator from WA,
Australian of the Year 2003); Jocelyn Newman (former Minister in the current federal
government). Poet, Les Murray, comments that he "wouldn't wish the job on
- 26 May: Speculation starts about who will be appointed the next
Governor-General and how the Prime Minister should go about deciding who is to fill the
job by using a broader selection and vetting process involving consultation with other
people. There were calls for a woman to be appointed to the job to aid national healing
after the Hollingworth appointment. However, there not many suggestions in the national
media about who a suitable female Governor-General might be. Most of the names were
recycled from the lead-up to the 2001 appointment of Dr Hollingworth including Jocelyn
Newman, Lowitja O'Donoghue, Margaret Jackson and Fiona Stanley. The only known criterion
applied by the Prime Minister is that the appointee should be a supporter of the monarchy,
which narrows the field.
WfaAR considers that it is
inappropriate to automatically turn to women to fill high public office when there is a
crisis or if the position is undesirable and/or tainted. Women should be appointed to such
jobs without qualification and in any circumstances. WfaAR notes that male appointee, Sir
Zelman Cowen, was well able to carry out the role of rebuilding the office of
Governor-General after the controversy surrounding his predecessor, Sir John Kerr, and the
divisiveness that followed in the 1970s.
- 25 May: Governor-General resigns.
- 21 May: Northern Territory Chief Minister, Clare Martin, announces
another referendum on statehood. This will be preceded by a constitutional convention to
which, this time, all delegates will be elected.
- 21 May: Dame Edna Everage, confidante of Queen Elizabeth and
republican, proposes herself as the best person to take over as Governor-General (reported
in Maxine McKew's weekly column in The Bulletin).
- 17 May: With the Governor-General having stepped aside to fight a
charge of rape against him (subsequently dropped) and considering legal action to clear
his name resulting from the adverse findings of an Anglican Church inquiry into the
handling of child sex abuse cases while he was Archbishop of Brisbane, women saw the irony
of the situation as reflected in two letters to The Canberra Times: one demanded decisive
action by the Prime Minister and improved selection processes for the job; the other
equated "overcrowding" at the vice-regal residence at Yarralumla with a reality
TV program where the viewers vote on which person to evict from a house. Read their
- May 2003: The Governor General is embroiled in further controversy
about his actions as a former archbishop of the Anglican church (see News Update of 28
February 2002 below). This again highlights issues around the method of appointing the
Queens representative in Australia (appointed solely on the recommendation of the
Prime Minister). With renewed calls for Dr Hollingworths resignation, public comment
has focussed on the need for the office of Governor-General to remain clear of uncertainty
about the occupant and for the job to be more accountable to the Australian people.
- 1 May 2003: The Victorian Government announces that it will advertise
the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for the first time previously,
chief justices were appointed on the advice of the retiring incumbent to the Government of
- April 2003: Dr Helen Irving, author, lecturer in law at the
University of Sydney and who has written extensively on the constitutional aspects of an
Australian republic, is named by the Republican Clubs of Australia as Republican of the
- March 2003: Quentin Bryce, feminist lawyer, former
Sex Discrimination Commissioner and monarchist, was announced as the next Governor
(Queens representative) of Queensland. Debate about the appointment took place in
the Queensland parliament - a first - after the appointment was confirmed by
- 16 - 17 November 2002: A
conference on Australias Constitutional Future was held in Brisbane and topics
addressed included the republic and the Head of State. There were only a small number of
women speakers: Dr Linda Burney of Sydney (now a member of the NSW parliament and
indigenous activist); Senator Amanda Vanstone from South Australia; Ms Jenny Macklin of
Victoria, Deputy Leader of the Federal Opposition and Dr Helen Irving. The conference
papers are available at www.gu.edu.au/conference/acf2002.
- 15 November 2002: The
Australian published the results of a Newspoll which showed momentum for direct
election of the President was growing. The survey of 1200 people revealed that 51% were in
favour of Australia becoming a republic (46% of women compared with 57% of men) and 46%
wanted direct election (42% of women compared with 51% of men). 80% of those polled
thought that another referendum on the republic should be held within five years.
- 22 October 2002: Senator Amanda
Vanstone in a speech to an ARM dinner in Canberra told republicans that they need to
engage at grassroots and work in concert with local representatives to convince
politicians at all levels that the republic is an issue that people want pursued. She also
cautioned them against alientating their supporters who may be seeking minimal changes to
implement a republic.
- 11 -13 June 2002: Five papers on the republic and related
topics were delivered at the Women's Constitutional Convention 2002, Trust the Women: the
Next One Hundred Years, commemorating 100 years of the women's vote and the 40th
anniversary of all indigenous women getting the vote held in Canberra. Topics included: Is the Republic a Women's Issue?; Women Restarting the
Republic Debate and Selection Processes For the Head of State; and the Politics of the
Preamble. Papers are available at www.wcc2002.asn.au
- 28 February 2002: As controversy swirls around the office of
Governor-General, there is renewed interest in the republic, the method of appointing the
Head of State and the type of person who is suitable for the job. Some women have written
letters to the newspapers on this issue and the need to have more women in prominent
public positions, read two of them here.
- 15 December 2001: There was controversy about the Conference
Follow-up Group which was formed to take forward the outcome of the convention called the Royal Hotel Resolution. (Click here for the Resolution).
The 11 member group contained only one woman who was included because she was Deputy Chair
of the Convention. This issue has not been resolved despite representations from concerned
republican women. The first meeting of the Follow-up Group which is dominated by male
members of the establishment eg retired High Court judges, the proponents of the proposals
etc, was in Melbourne on 22 February 2002. ARM wrote
to the Corowa Conference chair about the lack of women on the Enabling Committee which is
following up the conference resolution.
- 10 December: Anne Barber from WEL Sydney, co-author of the
WEL/WIP proposal which was not considered by the convention, offers her impressions of the Corowa gathering.
- 7 December: The Australian published a post-Corowa article
by Professor Greg Craven of Perth who proposed one of the Corowa models but who revealed
himself at the convention as being opposed to direct election. Jenny Katauskas and Louise
Clegg, both from Sydney and members of ARM, responded. Read
their letters to the editor.
- 3 December: The Australian features two women who attended
the Corowa Conference. Denva Poyntz, 16 from Moama near Echuca (Vic) told the conference
that no one was asking the next generation what they want. She said that no one should
assume that young people were not interested. She favoured the Craven proposal because it
was asking what people wanted, not telling them what to do. Also pictured was Judith
Brooks, a teacher from Barwon Heads near Geelong. She told the conference "People
don't go to the supermarket and say "By God, I want a republic. But people do want an
Australian head of state and they want leadership." Judith was also reported as
saying that she was a former member of ARM who had left because she was disgusted with the
headkicking of Malcolm Turnbull and the way that ARM thought they owned the republic. She
thinks that ARM has changed but questions how much. "The way forward for the republic
will be when the people stop being afraid of the politicians, and the politicians stop
being afraid of the people, when the issue becomes one of unifying the nation and not
dividing the nation, and when it becomes something we all move together on in a bipartisan
manner. There has to be an exchange of trust." (Quoted from an article by Mike
- 1-2 December: People's Conference at Corowa, on the Murray
River in southern New South Wales and site of the 1893 Corowa Conference, the first of the
conventions leading up to Federation. The purpose of the 2001 Corowa People's Conference
was to explore and harness the opinions of Australians to resolve the Head of State issue
and put in place a process which will ensure an Australian in the top job, for example
through a series of referendums, plebiscites, parliamentary inquiries and the like. The
five proposals selected for debate by delegates addressed this issue from different
perspectives and proposed different processes to achieve the common objective. Details of
the proposals can be found on the Corowa website at www.corowaconference.com.au and click on
About a third of the 420 delegates to Corowa were women. In
the main, delegates came from the eastern States and the ACT with few attending from South
Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Special representations had to be
made to the conference organisers to ensure that women got equal time to speak and this
issue erupted on the floor of the conference on the second day. All the women who spoke in
the formal sessions about the five proposals were persuasive, fluent and outstanding in
the breadth of their arguments and experience with the issues. There was also an exciting
group of young, committed women republicans attending. Women for an Australian Republic
attended and spoke during the discussion on the five proposals on Day 1 of the conference.
Click on the link for the speech made by Sarah Brasch.
Photographs from the conference can be found at www.corowaconference.com.au
- 14 November: Although submitted in time, the WEL/WIP
proposal for selecting the Head of State was not among those put to the vote by paid-up
delegates to the Corowa conference (about half the delegates were able to vote). No
explanation for this was forthcoming. The five final resolutions to be considered at
Corowa were all proposed by men, mostly academic constitutional lawyers, the exception
being former television journalist and business identity, Bill Peach.
- 10 November: the move to a republic loses political momentum
with the return of a Liberal-National Party Government in federal election (but see also
item on the Corowa Conference 1 December)
- 1 November: Women Into Politics and Women's Electoral Lobby
discussion paper prepared ahead of the Corowa People's Conference about selecting a Head
of State. The paper concentrates on the involvement of women in the process and ensuring
that there is gender equity in all processes of change for selection of the Head of State.
It recommends that each electorate elect one male and one female representative to an
Assembly to Elect the Head of State; proposes selection criteria for the Head of State
including a record of public service other than paid employment and promotes community
education. Click here to read the full
- 19 October: ARM releases discussion paper on six models for
Head of State. This is a short and informative read but doesn't contain any specific
provisions to ensure equality of representation or in the selection processes for the
President. There is a direct election model and one for an American-style President. Link
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Last modified: 4 May 2009