May 17

"Referendum" Makes Election Headlines

Not, alas,The Voice or the Republic but once again s.44 qualifications to be a member of federal Parliament. Perusal of nomination forms by the ABC reveals a significant number of candidates are unlikely to be eligible if elected - fortunately, few appear to have any real chance of success. But the principle remains: the nation is long overdue for regular referendums at the federal level (the only way the national Constitution can be changed) and there are many administrative fix-ups and updates - s 44 at the head of the queue - to be attended to by voters and have been for some considerable time. Read the explanatory article on the link below including commentary from Professor George Williams. WfaAR comment: it isn't just parliamentary eligibility under s 44 that is broken, our whole system of federal government established under the Constitution in 1901 has been broken since 11 November 1975. ["Several federal election candidates may be dual citizens, ineligible under Section 44 of Constitution" by Lauren Pezet, Victor Petrovic and Patrick Bell, ABC online, 17 May 2022]

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Apr 16

Art is Transformative

Novelist Romy Ash discusses how the Melbourne lockdowns affected her connection with the city upon hearing Deborah Cheetham's (Yorta Yorta, Yuin) "The River Sings" played at sunrise and sunset next to Birrarung (Yarra River) across a deserted Melbourne. She writes: "Art can be felt in the body and the heart, that it's transformative". That's how WfaAR feels about art, culture and our Republic. ["Planting a Vision": interview with Katrina Sedgwick, former Head of Arts for the ABC, Chief Executive of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and soon to take up the position as Chief Executive of the Melbourne Arts Precinct by Romy Ash, The Saturday Paper, 16-22 April 2022]

Apr 15

Indigenous Referendum must come Before Republic Vote

Read comments by National Convenor, Sarah Brasch, on ABC online in this article rather sensationally claiming that the ALP had dropped its commitment to a Republic referendum in the first term of 3 years if it forms a government on 21 May. She says this is the right thing to do because if the Republic referendum goes first, then it will be flawed from the start. It will not be a Reconciled Republic and a huge opportunity for national healing will be lost, unnecessarily so. ["Labor no longer committed to republic vote in first term, prioritising Indigenous recognition instead" by Henry Belot, ABC online 14 April 2022 and amended on 15 April 2022]

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Apr 11

Royal Visit Ends

Most people didn't know it had started. Princess Anne finishes what must have been one of the shortest, lowest key and most unremarkable royal visits ever especially compared with the last one by Meghan and Harry in late 2018. The official royal tour to mark our Head of State's platinum jubilee started and ended in Sydney before the Princess jetted out to Port Moresby for another short stay. It featured more travelling in historical vehicles, a ploy that got the Cambridges into much strife in the Caribbean recently. Info about the visit is available on the link below. WfaAR can't see that the country got much benefit from her presence other than realising a royal visit so close to the announcement of an election was publicity that the Government wanted to do without for fear of surfacing republican sentiment. This was well-founded. Definitely one for the diehard royal watchers and no one else. That there were no photo ops with the attention-seeking monarchist Prime Minister was thundering! ["Rural traditions and Australian way of life celebrated in royal tour" by Lucy Manly, "reporter and gossip columnist" for Sydney Morning Herald online, 9 April 2022]

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Apr 11

Day 1 of Election Campaign has Positives for Republic

The first thing to say about the election is that if there's a change of government, Australia could well end up with a Minister - or Assistant Minister - for the Republic. What a great result that would be! The shadow ALP Minister for the Republic is Matt Thistlethwaite MP representing a seat in suburban Sydney. There could be a new joint federal parliamentary committee charged with examining continuous constitutional change as recommended by the Joint Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs after its Inquiry into Constitutional Reform and Referendums (reported December 2021). Women for an Australian Republic gave evidence to the Committe; several recommendations in our submissions were picked up.

In addition, while most republican campaigners led by WfaAR now acknowledge that the country cannot vote on a Republic without being a Reconciled - or, at least, a rapidly Reconciling - Republic, Indigenous leaders have again today called for a referendum to enshrine The Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, along with Treaty (making) and Truth (telling). After promising this, the Coalition Government 2019 to 2022 failed to deliver and little has been achieved on this matter during the 46h Parliament with the Coalition preferring to a) legislate The Voice and b) push action out of the federal jurisdiction and onto the States and Territories with little to see thus far. Read more on the link below: ["Indigenous leaders say 'it's time for a referendum' on First Nations Voice to Parliament" by Kirstie Wellauer, ABC Online, 11 April 2022)

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Apr 9

Prince Charles is Irrelevant to Australia...

So begins Jennifer Bradley's letter to The Canberra Times.  She concludes by saying, "It's more than time for Australia to become a republic". Read the full text of Jennifer's letter by clicking on the link.

Download: Letter to The Canberra Times [49KB, pdf]

Apr 5

People's Republic of Mallacoota

A six part reality TV show premieres on the ABC about what happens when a group of people in this 2019 bushfire ravaged small coastal town take charge of their own future and decide to plan, organise and govern themselves towards rebuilding and recovery. The official ABC blurb says this "offers a microcosm of urgent challenges that all Australians face as they seek to forge a common vision of their future from a multitude of competing claims. Does this citizen-led recovery provide a roadmap for the rest of us to follow?". It is also described as a "bold experiment in self-determination". Food for thought.

Mar 30

...and Getting Worse

More difficulties are besetting our Head of State and her family. Meghan and Harry have departed for the beaches of California and private lives making allegations of racism; favoured son Andrew, peering over his tortoise-shell half glasses and now excluded from public duties and striped of titles, is about to settle an expensive legal case using family funds over alleged sexual relations with a minor and they've got Covid including the Queen herself. Now HM is the subject of significant cover-ups over the status of her mobility. At the memorial service for Prince Philip (died 8 April 2021) in Westminster Abbey with the Caribbean reactions to the latest royal tour ringing in their ears, the large, extended family was together again in celebration of a life of service, never complaining/never explaining etc. The Queen arrived at the service accompanied by Prince Andrew and was reputed to be being spirited in away from the eyes of prying cameras so that no one could see her using a wheelchair and walking by the shortest route to take her seat in a Canada chair, whatever that is. William looked pretty pensive as things begin to fray at the edges.  Meanwhile, we're bracing for a visit by the Princess Royal around Easter. If nothing else, that should have us waving our Union Jacks! 

Mar 27

People's Republic of Western Australia

So said former Liberal Minister for Foreign Affairs and one-time PM aspirant, Julie Bishop - a strong republican - describing her escape when she launched the campaign for the Liberal member for Wentworth in Sydney ahead of the 2022 federal election. WfaAR assumes that she was referring to WA's closed borders due the pandemic, still wisely closed long after all the others had opened. See also News for 5 April 2022. Reported in the Sydney Morning Herald online, 27 March 2022.

Mar 26

Republican Result from Platinum Jubilee Tour of Caribbean

At the end of William and Kate's tour to a number of Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean that had the objective of marking and celebrating the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, things quickly unravelled into discussions of colonialism, slavery, reparations and open declarations of intention by Belize, The Bahamas and Jamaica to replace the Queen as their Head of State and become republics after being spurred on by the change in Barbados last November. Some even talk of leaving the Commonwealth. Heady stuff. After the departure of the next heir, St Lucia and St Vincent and The Grenadines quickly followed suit. Their are varying reports of how the tour was received following several unfortunate photo shots and the re-enactment of the Queen's trip in a vintage jeep that reeked of colonialism down to the white lace dress and hat worn by Kate (along with all the rest of the often-changed couture clobber). William's heavily gilded and decorated uniform merely looked out of place and out of time.

This is the trailing edge of Meghan Markle's influence since joining the British monarchy formally in mid 2018 - and increasing public awareness of the history of slavery and how the wealth of the English Queen is built upon the colonialism of her forebears -  but it is surprisingl that things have changed so quickly. The BLM movement also continues to resonate.

This article (click on link) from The Guardian covers all the bases with that photo. [""Perfect Storm': royals misjudged Caribbean tour, say critics" by Amelia Hall and Rachel Gentleman, The Guardian online, 26 March 2022]

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Quick Info

For a brief but useful guide to republicanism in Australia, see the entry in Wikipedia

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Woman for an Australian Republic, Adelaide Ironside, republican poet and artist, 1831-1867

Self portrait 1855, Newcastle Region Art Gallery NSW

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Senate Inquiry

Report of Senate Inquiry into the Republic Plebiscite Bill released 15 June 2009

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