Should Australia become a republic? If so, what difference would it make?
I have always believed that Australia should become a republic. One of my fundamental motivations for this view is the desire for Australia to be truly independent, breaking our symbolic ties to the British monarchy and provide Australians with the opportunity and the right to install an Australian head of state. It could enable changes to our Constitution, perhaps even provide Australia with a more facile way to include recognition of our indigenous peoples, along with the acknowledgement of large sections of our population who have migrated from other countries to Australia.
The motivation for my stance is not a nationalistic one, despite what I have stated in the previous paragraph. If anything, the establishment of an Australian republic may tip the balance to a more embedded feeling of patriotism, which is not, in my opinion, advantageous. My opinions regarding this matter have their origins in the fervent wish to disassociate Australia from the monarchy. As a left-wing socialist, I believe that monarchies do not fit in any society that wishes to refer to itself as democratic.
Technically, such a change might not make too much of a difference to how Australia functions as a nation – wording of our official acts of parliament and other constitutional documents would need to be altered in the first instance. Procedures and processes would have to be formulated to accommodate the existence of a President or a Head of State. However, over time, it could help to place Australia as a more serious contender on the world stage… provided that our future leadership were effective and placed Australia’s interests high on its list of priorities. Alas, I fear that “…’tis a consummation devoutly to be wish’d.”
The failure of the 1999 Republican Referendum came as no surprise – the Prime Minister of the day, John Howard, did not wish to sever ties with the British monarchy and the Commonwealth. Personally, despite my opinion that Australia is not yet mature enough to have this conversation, due to the current political climate under Tony Abbott, I think that such a transition could go some way to persuade us to shed the xenophobic hang-ups we have and gain more worldly views. Perhaps it would enable Australia to move past its insular and myopic notions of the role we play as a member of the global community.
Or, perchance, I am being way too idealistic for my traditionally cynical approach to such matters…