I’m a republican.
I find the notion that Australia has a foreign head of state to be anachronistic, and I believe the people should be sovereign, not some foreign monarch.
As a historian, I respect the British monarchy, what it has done for that country, and what their country has done for ours. And, I also have respect for the current queen. She has lived a long life, lived it well, and been an excellent ‘first citizen’ for the British people, and the Empire before that.
Tomorrow, she becomes the longest-reigning monarch Britain has ever had, and she’s been sovereign for longer than most people I know have been alive.
Queen Elizabeth II Photo via Wikipedia
She is, though, a foreigner.
Photo via Wikipedia
Recently, mainly through the efforts of Peter FitzSimons – an author whose books I enjoy and the recently-appointed head of the Australian Republican Movement – debate has began once more on the question of an Australian republic. Not only do I think this is a desirable goal, I think it’s an important and inevitable one.
As the republican debate has begun, there is a counter-argument which says that the current arrangements with our constitution should not change while Elizabeth is on the throne. This is a silly notion.
Australia should be a republic because it is the best status for Australia.
It is not dependent on our relations with another country, and a change would not be any sort of diplomatic insult to the Queen of Britain. By saying we should not change while the current monarch is in place is making the present monarch (whether it be Elizabeth, or Charles, or William, or George, or anyone else) the issue. And they’re not. Our status is the issue. Linking that to an individual is irrelevant.
Of course, such arguments are disingenuous. They are being used by those who oppose a republic because they do not believe Australia and Australians are equal to those of other nations whose allegiance is to their fellow citizens rather than to a particular person, who they have placed upon a pedestal. They believe Australians are not of the same calibre as the French, Germans, Koreans, Americans, Indians or Poles. Of the Italians, the Irish, and the Chinese.