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It's (Still) Time to Become a Republic

Madeleine Treacy-Maclean

Like many other republicans, I've watched the latest series of ‘The Crown’ and, although the drama is undeniably hard to look away from, the monarchy that has plagued Commonwealth countries still stands today. Steeped in tradition over substance, obsessed with protocol over the ongoing suffering of the people; the only thing worse on the show was Margaret Thatcher.

Much of the ambivalence about the retention or not of the monarchy is due to a “What’s it matter, anyway?” mentality. I believe the deletion of 60,000 years of Aboriginal History is more than a sufficient reason to move to a republic – based on our nation’s true heritage. Then we can correctly include our multicultural influences fairly and with a truer perspective. Every day we spend in service to the people responsible for colonisation is another day White Australia erases Aboriginal sovereignty.

As Australians we are driven by rightness, and this something we need to put right. Our young people need to feel a sense of identity and purpose. Just as it was time for Gough to come to power when he did, proclaiming an end to the Vietnam War, Labor needs to lead us to the next election boldly proclaiming that it's time for Australia to become a republic.

Lately we have seen the actions of the Australian Defence Force and it has undeniably shattered our sense of identity. We need to be in control of our own government, which needs to do so much better. People are hungry for that change and being a republic is the way to go.

Labor should call for another referendum and maintain its focus on the need for a republic. So we are not diverted into divisions around what type of republic as happened with the last referendum, we must take a consultative approach and invite Australians to shape their future republic. The first step to resolve these divisions is to use surveys, such as what was recently sent out to all members of the Australian Republic Movement (ARM). Australians can then shape the type of republic and truly call it their own.

The symbolism of a republic would finally enable an effective pathway towards reconciliation. The incorporation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and recognition of First Nations People would bring Australians together. Australia Day could be moved to the day we became a republic, which would not repair the damage of colonialism, but would be a step in the right direction.

The hereditary nature of the monarchy and it’s espousal of just one Christian religion, conflicts with our very ideals of egalitarianism and inherited privilege. The links between the church and the monarch are inconsistent with Australia’s secular character. We understand that the British Queen is titular head of the Anglican Church – and of course saw how the royals treated Diana. Need I say more?

We need to be radical and lead with ambition if we are going to have any impact on the next generation. We need to march through the streets; we need to call for an Australian Republic. This movement needs to be more than just symbolic. The Australian contribution to the world stage is honourable, yet our identity remains shrouded in the British Monarchy. The British Monarch and her representatives should not remain our theoretical yet potentially active advisers.

If we don’t take real, bold change in policies like these to the next election we will lose. It is crucial that we unite Australians in determining our future as we cannot change the past. Just as that song ‘It’s Time’ worked for Gough we need to determine a new modern version to persuade every Australian that It IS Time for a republic. This Christmas sign everyone up to the Australian Republic Movement or move a motion of support at your next branch meeting.

Madeleine Treacy-Maclean is a member of the Evatt Foundation Executive Committee


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