Republicanism in Australia: a movement to change Australia's status as a constitutional monarchy to a republican form of government; such sentiments have been expressed in Australia from before federation to the present day
Originally composed of six separate colonies of the British Empire
• Australia's path to independent statehood began with the formation of a common federal state in 1901
• Right now, Australia has a system of government called a constitutional monarchy = Queen is Head of State, but Australia has its own constitution which limits her power to a minimal and ceremonial role
• Within Australia, the Queen is represented by the Governor General (appointed by the Prime Minister)
Central arguments made by the Republicans
• A person who is resident primarily in another country cannot adequately represent Australia, either to itself or to the rest of the world; also the Head of State should be a position that is awarded based on merit, not on birthright
• Every Australian child should be able to dream of attaining the highest office in their country
• There are many benefits to business and the economy. International trade is becoming increasingly competitive and the way Australia positions itself as a nation is important. When the Queen travels overseas she promotes British companies and British trade, not Australian interests
Central arguments made by the Monarchists
• The relationship with England is an important part of Australia’s heritage; Monarchists don’t want to cut all ties with this history; Britain is a part of their identity
• Becoming a republic will be a waste of Australian taxpayers’ money: the need to change the currency and stationary, hold a referendum etc.; that would not justify the end result, which would be a similar form of government; on top of that, other issues are in more urgent need of funding and debate
• Australia’s current system of government combines all the advantages of a constitutional monarchy with a full measure of independence and democratic freedom
Polls and surveys generate different responses depending on the wording of the questions and often appear contradictory --> big part of the problem as well, next to the indecision of many citizens and politicians alike.
On 29 August 2010 the The Sydney Morning Herald published a poll, asking multiple questions on the future of the monarchy:
• 48% of the 1400 respondents were opposed to constitutional change (a rise of 8 per cent since 2008)
• 44% supported change (a drop of 8 per cent since 2008).
• 31% said Australia should never become a republic.
• 29% said Australia should become a republic as soon as possible.
• 34% said Australia should become a republic only after Queen Elizabeth II's reign ends.
Public support for a republic has slumped to a 16-year low with more Australians in favor of retaining the monarchy for now. Backing for a republic is at its lowest since 1994 - five years before Australia had a referendum on the topic.
What Australia’s politicians say:
During the election campaign Ms Gillard echoed the sentiments of her predecessor, Kevin Rudd a republic was not a first-term priority and would only be considered after a change in monarch
Opposition leader Tony Abbott (openly monarchist along with his mentor and former leader John Howard) said Australians had shown little desire for change.
6 November 1999
• Referendum was held to see if Australian citizens wanted Australia to become a republic
• Referendum = a special election to see if the country wants to change something in the constitution; to be successful, both a majority of people and a majority of states have to say ‘yes’
• “Does the country want to have a republic where the president was elected by a two thirds majority in parliament?” --> 46% of Australian voters voted ‘yes’, while 54% voted ’no’ --> changes did not pass
If Australia becomes a republic one day, then…
• No, Australia doesn’t have to change the flag
• Yes, they will eventually have to change all the coins with the Queen’s face on them
• No, the president will not be like the one in America – the Prime Minister will still be the main political leader of Australia
The issue seems to be temporarily off the table, but with Malcolm Turnbull, who is tipped as the next prime minister, it might be possible that there will be another referendum