Will Australia ever become a Republic?

 
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
Bugga the British sentiment it is a load of bull manure. The only thing I have against becoming a republic is what happened in America the whole Government had to shut down almost because there was no food (Money) in the larder so to speak. Every time the Royals even 20 times removed come to Australia ask your self who pays for it. Security and other things etc are usually put on the Australian Governments bill. Make em fly in on QANTAS cattle class like all the rest do if they want to come to visit Australia etc. Phil and Liz can hire and pay for a car out here with a driver and they pay for all meals and anything else as well. They would not come back in a hurry, hopefully! Laughing

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  waxyzebu Locomotive Driver

I guess it's lucky they don't come here very often, then. We pay for most visits by foreign leaders no matter what country they come from, right? That's just the way it is. We'd probably still be paying for them under a republic.
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
I guess it's lucky they don't come here very often, then. We pay for most visits by foreign leaders no matter what country they come from, right? That's just the way it is. We'd probably still be paying for them under a republic.
waxyzebu
Make em all pay their own way, you cannot discriminate in this country any more! Twisted Evil
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
So the entirety of the British people are condemned due to blunders in wartime leadership?

Sure, plenty of bad decisions have been made in war. I can list family members and friends who fought under British leadership in several wars, some were killed and I know them only from photos, others were POWs captured by the Japanese and Germans and survived. We all have war stories and they don't always lead to support for a republic.

Honestly, we couldn't get away with bashing any other nationality the way we bash the Poms. It's disgraceful and does nothing for the credibility of a republican position.

Get the chips off your shoulders and give us real reasons why Australia should become a republic and how it would be better for us. Because as it stands, there isn't much of a case being made here.
waxyzebu

My condemnation of the British stems from the fact that they regarded their colonies as places to source wealth and resources with little or no regard for the people on the ground there. They were hardly a model of supportive governance.

The argument does not have to be presented in terms of why we should or should not become a republic, it can also be about why we continue to have a model of government that has ties to a largely irrelevant country.

Therefore, my argument is the opposite to yours: why should Australia have any ties to England? Why not sever those ties and adopt a model that is relevant to the times and region we live in?
  waxyzebu Locomotive Driver

The argument does not have to be presented in terms of why we should or should not become a republic, it can also be about why we continue to have a model of government that has ties to a largely irrelevant country.

Therefore, my argument is the opposite to yours: why should Australia have any ties to England? Why not sever those ties and adopt a model that is relevant to the times and region we live in?
TheBlacksmith
Because for me, acts of constitutional change and throwing increasingly scarce taxpayer's money at yet another progressive intiative are not matters to be taken lightly.

My way of thinking is that if we are going to make a change to a system that does seem to work quite well despite its oddities, that change should provide tangible benefits to the community with as little scope for unforeseen political consequences as possible. Symbolic change isn't enough to make it worthwhile and it appears that the change on offer is basically symbolic with next to nothing for the average Joe.

Expect a republic to cost a lot. It will create work for lawyers in rewriting the constitution, cost a small fortune in terms of changing symbols, logos, and elevate a small handful of new presidents into the elite. Or maybe it won't, because my money is on most presidents coming from the elite to begin with. I really have no interest in giving rich people, especially cronies of government, more money so they can travel the world representing Australia and live in luxury. How much are we going to pay them? The President will no doubt have to have himself a world tour to show off Australia's new found maturity, maybe even have a new palace built for him. We already throw money at the Governor-General for similar activities, but a presidency will almost certainly cost more and be on a larger scale because it will have to be shown off as a matter of national pride.

I'm still not seeing any benefits for Mr John Q. Taxpayer here.

The idea that someday I could be President is a load of smeg and it doesn't win me over one bit.

In this I am assuming we are talking about a minimalist model of republic that essentially changes nothing for me as an average citizen.

John Burge said in 1998:
The people of Australia are not clamouring for a referendum on a republic, it is being pushed by multi-millionaires, politicians and much of the media.  Some very wealthy people are even putting their own money up.

At a time when we have massive levels of unemployment, a foreign debt out of control, appalling poverty and social problems, we must divert our time, attention, energy and vast amounts of money - into a debate and referendum on whether we should become a republic.

The Constitutional Convention held in Canberra in February 1998 cost the Australian taxpayers $46 million.  And that's only for 'starters'.

The people are refused a vote in referenda on issues impacting upon their lives: such as the removal of tariffs, immigration, multiculturalism, the Asianisation of Australia, Aboriginal land claims and benefits, and our military defence.  But they will be forced to vote on a republic.

There is obviously more to this then 'meets the eye'.

I think he had a point.
  MILW Junior Train Controller

Location: Earth
My condemnation of the British stems from the fact that they regarded their colonies as places to source wealth and resources with little or no regard for the people on the ground there. They were hardly a model of supportive governance.
TheBlacksmith

Well, what is a colony, and how should the British have regarded them with their eighteenth century mindsets?

I don't think the British imperial model compares too badly with other imperial models of the time or earlier, remembering that there was a difference between white colonies and non-white. Think about what some other imperial rulers did to their colonial subjects. They were all exploitative and did things that would be frowned upon today.

British colonies in North America and also Australia were known as some of the freest places in the world for white freemen, where peasants often enjoyed better standards of living than in England and Europe. That's why so many people left their homelands from the 17th to 20th centuries. There were even cases of people deliberately committing crimes in order to score transportation to New South Wales as convicts.

Empire is now considered a bad thing and not without reason, but the funny thing is that it still exists, albeit in a new less obvious form. It is still exploitative and yes, Australia is part of that empire. It is not the British empire but a global economic empire. Monarchy or republic, there is no real escape, no true independence from that empire.
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
Your argument seems based on a lot of costs that we would have to bear anyway for continuing government, and in 1998 Australia was a very different place to 2013.

So it costs money to create a republic, it will happen at some time, so why not now? Or do you think Australians will continue to tug their forelock at a distant monarch for the rest of their existence?
  waxyzebu Locomotive Driver

Your argument seems based on a lot of costs that we would have to bear anyway for continuing government,
TheBlacksmith

There are specific costs associated with Australia becoming a republic that are over and above "what we would have to bear anyway for continuing government".

We blew $46 million on a Constitutional Convention in 1998 for starters, and in 2013 it's hard to say that was money well spent. The costs would go much higher than that. I'd like to see some official estimates, though, not that they can be trusted.



and in 1998 Australia was a very different place to 2013.
TheBlacksmith
Not really, I think many of the social and economic concerns are similar. Some of them are certainly worse now.




Or do you think Australians will continue to tug their forelock at a distant monarch for the rest of their existence?
TheBlacksmith
As an Australian I don't see myself tugging my forelock at a distant monarch. There is no problem here.


Justice Michael Kirby identified several problems with the failed campaign in 1999, including the "elitist error".
Referenda are inevitably “elite driven”. However, to secure the requisite support amongst the electors of Australia the proponents of change must somehow secure the understanding and support of a wide range of citizens. On big issues this is a big ask.

So, what does that mean? The republicans need to generate more propaganda, advertising and brainwashing to win over the public because it's still mostly just a progressive elite driven initiative? The elitist problem hasn't gone away. People are well aware of who will benefit from the republic. The scraps left over for everyone else offer little nourishment. We're ridding ourselves of an elite royal family in favour of a local elite. There's nothing to see here, folks.
  Donald Chief Commissioner

Location: Donald. Duck country.
I wonder about the Monarchists, and want to ask them, "What is it that makes a monarchy so much better than a republic?"
Valvegear
And then I ask you, "What is it that makes a republic so much better than a monarchy?"

What would be the cost to change and in the end what in reality changes?   Oh, that's right we have an Australian head of state?   Apart from an ex-politician who would want the job?   I wouldn't want one of them as President - they already have their noses in the taxpayers trough for the rest of their life without giving them more money.

If it ain't broke - don't smeg with it.
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
If it ain't broke - don't smeg with it.
Donald

Yeah, that old cliché again. The trouble is, it is a very negative concept. It completely ignores a better concept of working to improve an idea.

Where would Apple be if they had taken that route back when they first introduced the Macintosh?
  MILW Junior Train Controller

Location: Earth
So, what does that mean? The republicans need to generate more propaganda, advertising and brainwashing to win over the public because it's still mostly just a progressive elite driven initiative?
waxyzebu
You could say that. I don't think there was enough latent support in the community in the late 90s for a "natural transition" to a republic without brainwashing, and there almost certainly isn't now if the polls are to be taken as a guide.

The republicans know the gap in support has to be made up artificially through an extensive campaign of rhetoric and propaganda, which will probably be along the lines of the "create problems, offer solutions" method, like any other change thrust upon us by the political elite you mentioned. The last attempt at manufacturing consent failed, despite all the money thrown at it. The model contributed to that, but it wasn't the only factor.

If the people were really that passionate about Australia becoming a republic, perhaps more would have seized the rare opportunity by voting yes, then worked to perfect their new system later, or not even cared about the details and just got rid of the Crown as quickly as they could, even if it meant the parliament would nominate the head of state. Luckily, reason trumped passion and the sensible vote prevailed.


It completely ignores a better concept of working to improve an idea.
TheBlacksmith
My search for the substance of that improvement continues. It was nowhere to be found in 1999 and still eludes me.
  waxyzebu Locomotive Driver

Yeah, that old cliché again. The trouble is, it is a very negative concept. It completely ignores a better concept of working to improve an idea.
TheBlacksmith

I'm looking for positive concepts. Positive reasons why we should pull the trigger. Working to improve an idea sounds much better than bouts of Anglophobia and patriotism that equates monarchism to being un-Australian, but I can't see the results of that work. The promise of real improvement is empty and false.

As Kirby wrote, another mistake of the 1999 campaign was:
  • the patriotism error
‘Some republican advocates, before and after the vote, denigrated their fellow citizens who did not agree to the proposed change as somehow less patriotic and even un-Australian. … To upbraid half the people of Australia, or at least a good proportion of them, as “un-Australian” because they do not happen to agree with a proposal, is a sure way to alienate them’.
  Valvegear Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Norda Fittazroy
And then I ask you, "What is it that makes a republic so much better than a monarchy?"
"Donald"
Simple; a Head of State from our own country rather than from a foreign country 15,000 km away.
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
First let me state: I hold no position either way in this argument, but find it interesting reading the comments from either side.

Simple; a Head of State from our own country rather than from a foreign country 15,000 km away.
Valvegear


So, this "Head of State from our own country" could realistically be of mixed, say Asian-American, heritage, but that makes them better than a pommy? Yes, I do understand why some might wish to sever old irrelevant ties, but as has been said above, what are the real advantages?
  62440 Chief Commissioner

Is there some irony that our Australian born Royal has had to give up her Australian citizenship to become eventually Queen of Denmark?
  Grantham Minister for Railways

Location: I'm with stupid!
Is there some irony that our Australian born Royal has had to give up her Australian citizenship to become eventually Queen of Denmark?
62440
Not really, she has moved to another country to live their way of life. Their laws are not something we have much control over. I suspect that if she came back to Australia for whatever reason, she'd be allowed to take up citizenship again.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Bugga the British sentiment it is a load of bull manure. The only thing I have against becoming a republic is what happened in America the whole Government had to shut down almost because there was no food (Money) in the larder so to speak. Every time the Royals even 20 times removed come to Australia ask your self who pays for it. Security and other things etc are usually put on the Australian Governments bill. Make em fly in on QANTAS cattle class like all the rest do if they want to come to visit Australia etc. Phil and Liz can hire and pay for a car out here with a driver and they pay for all meals and anything else as well. They would not come back in a hurry, hopefully! Laughing
David Peters
I think you will find what happened in USA re govt shutdown has nothing to do with it being a republic and more to do with the way USA law/govt is structured. What I don't like about USA govt is that there seems to be two govts, congress and the president. Or maybe I just don't understand ?

What I want for a Head of State is a similar role to the GG now, but elected by the people.The actual mechanism for that vote is probably just simple majority using two party prefered approach.

Head of state should
- Give final approval of all legislation and ability to veto
- Be the leader of the military
- Ability to sack the govt and call and double disolution election should the govt appear to be out of control, however the GG should not assume control of the govt, rather hand power to the Leader of the Opposition for a max period of 4 weeks until the election.
- Potentially also be head of the Electrol Commission
- Be an Australian Citizen for at least 10 years
+ all other current roles

The Head of State at time of election and in term
- Should not be a member of a political party
- Have a Criminal Record apart from minor offences that occured at least 10 years previously
- Express strong politically biased views or attempt to influence the govt
- Only able to 1 (or maybe 2) x 5 year fixed term.

The role is probably suited to former popular PM's and Leader of opposition at fed or state level, popular Miltary leader etc
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
My condemnation of the British stems from the fact that they regarded their colonies as places to source wealth and resources with little or no regard for the people on the ground there. They were hardly a model of supportive governance.

The argument does not have to be presented in terms of why we should or should not become a republic, it can also be about why we continue to have a model of government that has ties to a largely irrelevant country.
TheBlacksmith
And they are now looking for new colonies  to treat the locals and immigrant workers like crap. Come to Dubai, most Westerns Expats will tell you many of the poms are a bunch of upstarts. They seem to loose their british driving skills and copy the locals if not more in their arrogance. They treat the SE Asian labour like smeg, are the lowest tippers to taxi drivers and seem mostly hell bent of having this upstart/show piece lifestyle. I think this must be like Adelaide in the early days, few working class just all top end. Even in the shops you don't tend to hear the typcial BRitish acsent, something more like from Royal side.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
First let me state: I hold no position either way in this argument, but find it interesting reading the comments from either side.



So, this "Head of State from our own country" could realistically be of mixed, say Asian-American, heritage, but that makes them better than a pommy? Yes, I do understand why some might wish to sever old irrelevant ties, but as has been said above, what are the real advantages?
Graham4405
Graham, that is the only REAL advantage and all that most Republicans actually want and something so meaningfull many countries have previously gone to war over. We won't have a war.

And who gives a crap if the first president is of Asian-American hertiage? does it matter as long as they have Australia Citizen for a reasonable period of time. Australian's are not white, black etc, we are a mixed bag getting less "white" each year. It doesn't make them better or worse than a person of British heritage, unless you are infering something racial?

My kids are 25% 2nd gen dutch, 25% 2nd gen asian, 50% mix of English, Scotish and Irish, probably more the later and didn't bu their boat ticket. To me this is probably typical of many Aussies these days, even the Aboriginals.

And Donald, that old sitting on the fence saying, "if it isn't broke don't fix it" Purely depends on your point of view. While the referedum question wasI believe prone to failure and I didn't vot for it as a result. 45% of the voting public obviously felt it was broke and the broke part being the HoS is not an Aussie.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

What I want for a Head of State is a similar role to the GG now, but elected by the people.The actual mechanism for that vote is probably just simple majority using two party prefered approach.

Head of state should
- Give final approval of all legislation and ability to veto
- Be the leader of the military
- Ability to sack the govt and call and double disolution election should the govt appear to be out of control, however the GG should not assume control of the govt, rather hand power to the Leader of the Opposition for a max period of 4 weeks until the election.
- Potentially also be head of the Electrol Commission
- Be an Australian Citizen for at least 10 years
+ all other current roles

The Head of State at time of election and in term
- Should not be a member of a political party
- Have a Criminal Record apart from minor offences that occurred at least 10 years previously
- Express strong politically biased views or attempt to influence the govt
- Only able to 1 (or maybe 2) x 5 year fixed term.

The role is probably suited to former popular PM's and Leader of opposition at fed or state level, popular Miltary leader etc
RTT_Rules

While I would probably vote for this ahead of the status quo at a referendum, I think many of the criticisms of the directly elected head of state are valid.  The main one being the head of state ends up being a politician.  A politician needs to campaign, and thus accept donations one way or another, and by the time they take office are already compromised (for want of a better word).  The most likely outcome is the Pres will be a major political party nominee, and they will exercise their role as head of state in a manner that best suits the advantage of their political party.  

With a popular mandate, the Pres could do anything if installed with the current GG's powers: appoint their choice of PM or ministers even if they didn't have the support of parliament for example.  Having a Pres who's campaigned on a political platform to exercise the veto power and elected in a different cycle to the other houses would see us have a system not unlike the American's, where executive government's function are spread over three institutions (with potentially differing electoral cycles), reducing both their power to implement policy and reduce their accountability for their failings.

But I think the biggest issue with the head of state being elected is the sort of high quality eminent people who have been our GGs in the past simply wouldn't run.

That's not top say it can't be done, but it really needs the Pres' powers to be codified and curtailed for our system of government not to be radically altered, probably for the worse.

My preference is to simply have the constitution reflect that the GG *is* the head of state, not their representative.  In practice, this is the case already.  The Monarch hasn't made a single decision in the affairs of Australia since before Isaac Isaacs was appointed GG.  The same certainly can't be said of the GG.  

Personally I think a bit more clarity in the constitution explicitly defining the supremacy of parliament would not do the constitution any harm, nor would beefing up the reserve powers: obligating the head of state to dissolve an unworkable parliament.  With this stuff actually in the constitution, it would open the way for the High Court to rule on the appropriateness of the actions of either the government or the GG in constitutional matters, and would also allow anyone to request (via the High Court) the dissolution of parliament and fresh elections in extreme (ie unconstitutional) circumstances.  That I think would be better than the potential "who sacked who first" race should another 1975 type event occur.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

So, this "Head of State from our own country" could realistically be of mixed, say Asian-American, heritage, but that makes them better than a pommy? Yes, I do understand why some might wish to sever old irrelevant ties, but as has been said above, what are the real advantages?
Graham4405
To ask to spell out "real" tangible advantages for changes to what is an entirely ceremonial position is, quite frankly, a bit rich.

Our current head of state is entirely symbolic.  The "real" problem with this is the image we project as a nation to our near and not so near neighbours.  We are basically saying "even *we* don't think we really belong here".

To quote the Barmy Army: "Well all live in a convict colony", and that's the exact message we send to the world by having the most potent symbol representing our society as the Queen of somewhere else.  We're not grown up enough to let go of mummy's hand.  Why should people take us seriously?

The exact quantifiable damage this does to Australia in terms of our international trade , diplomatic and economic activities is unknowable.  But it most definitely is real.
  MILW Junior Train Controller

Location: Earth
To ask to spell out "real" tangible advantages for changes to what is an entirely ceremonial position is, quite frankly, a bit rich.
djf01

It does not seem at all unreasonable to me, to expect that constitutional change should be made on the grounds of providing tangible benefits to the community, given that it will require the investment of their resources to make it happen. If those benefits cannot be clearly spelled out, then perhaps the republican movement has more work to do in preparing its case. No rush - you have all the time in the world.



Our current head of state is entirely symbolic. The "real" problem with this is the image we project as a nation to our near and not so near neighbours. We are basically saying "even *we* don't think we really belong here".

djf01
Who says that? Not me or any other Australian, except republicans who fake it for the sake of their flawed arguments. More fabricated problems. Thank god we have been offered the cure by our benevolent republican countrymen!


To quote the Barmy Army: "Well all live in a convict colony", and that's the exact message we send to the world by having the most potent symbol representing our society as the Queen of somewhere else. We're not grown up enough to let go of mummy's hand. Why should people take us seriously?

The exact quantifiable damage this does to Australia in terms of our international trade , diplomatic and economic activities is unknowable. But it most definitely is real.
djf01

I'm sorry, but are we actually supposed to take that seriously?

Is that really how our neighbours, potential friends and enemies size us up - by reference to the Queen? I doubt it. There's a lot more to international relations than that, right?

"It causes damage. We can't tell you what kind or measure it, but trust us, it is happening."

The extremes to which republicans will go in flogging their dead horse of an argument is amazing.

Are we really to believe that our trading partners are so sensitive as to be put off by our current head of state?
No, because money talks, bull smeg walks, and that is bull smeg. I hate to break it to you, but the concerns of our trading partners are generally far more pragmatic than those of desperate republicans.

If this is as good as it gets, the chances of Australia becoming a republic any time soon are nil.
Since you are one of the most articulate posters I've seen on Railpage, I'm sure it's not going to get much better than that... but guys, you may have to do better than that if you want your dream to come true.

The republican movement is as splintered as the socialists, as it squabbles over about six models with a few other, outside contenders (some of which I find more appealing). With the bipartisan appointment model wiped out in 1999 and knowing that while direct election is popular among the people, it's also risky, there is no clear direction and no action. All of this points to nothing happening soon, even after the passing of HM QEII seems less and less likely.



And they are now looking for new colonies to treat the locals and immigrant workers like crap. Come to Dubai, most Westerns Expats will tell you many of the poms are a bunch of upstarts. They seem to loose their british driving skills and copy the locals if not more in their arrogance. They treat the SE Asian labour like smeg, are the lowest tippers to taxi drivers and seem mostly hell bent of having this upstart/show piece lifestyle. I think this must be like Adelaide in the early days, few working class just all top end. Even in the shops you don't tend to hear the typcial BRitish acsent, something more like from Royal side.
RTT_Rules
A new colony? British people in Dubai is nothing new. Didn't you know it was part of a British protectorate from 1820 to 1971? And of course the terrible conditions many workers endure in the modern UAE are the fault of the British, right? Even though the UAE has long had its own government that still refuses to legalise unions and so on. Enough silliness, please.
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
To quote the Barmy Army: "Well all live in a convict colony"...
djf01
Well, what can you say about a race of people who sailed across 12 and a half thousand miles of ocean, discovered the land of Milk and Honey, then went back and sent all their criminals there to live while they stayed behind in pokey, rainy rathole of an island?
  djf01 Chief Commissioner


 
To quote the Barmy Army: "Well all live in a convict colony", and that's the exact message we send to the world by having the most potent symbol representing our society as the Queen of somewhere else. We're not grown up enough to let go of mummy's hand. Why should people take us seriously?

The exact quantifiable damage this does to Australia in terms of our international trade , diplomatic and economic activities is unknowable. But it most definitely is real.

I'm sorry, but are we actually supposed to take that seriously?
MILW

Yes.

Symbols matter.

Would you feel the same if WWII had panned out slightly differently and - all else being equal - our head of state was the Emperor of Japan rather than the Queen of England and the postage stamp on our flag was a swastika rather than the union jack?

And if the symbolism is irrelevant and only the tangible hard currency benefits of change matters, why would we not sell the rights to our national symbols?  Just imagine how much we'd all be better off if a certain US corporation paid the going rate to have a big yellow M in the top left of our flag with, and our GG being the duly anointed representative of our official head of state: Ronald Mac donald.

Symbols matter.

And as the Balmy Army example shows, the appropriateness - or lack there of - of our national symbols isn't lost on anyone, except perhaps die hard Aussie monarchists.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

The republican movement is as splintered as the socialists, as it squabbles over about six models with a few other, outside contenders (some of which I find more appealing). With the bipartisan appointment model wiped out in 1999 and knowing that while direct election is popular among the people, it's also risky, there is no clear direction and no action. All of this points to nothing happening soon, even after the passing of HM QEII seems less and less likely. omebody wrote:
MILW


I wouldn't be surprised to see the issue come around again while we have a devoutly Monarchist PM.  A skillful left leaning politician (now there is an oxymoron) could fork the right on this issue.


Keating did this with some effect to Howard, and the 1999 referendum and preceding convention only came about to neutralise the issue for Howard.


The Republic isn't quite the issue it was 20 years ago.  I think a lot of that is because support for republicanism in Australia is as much about some people detesting the British monarchy, in the same way some support for status quo is based on loving devotion to the Royals.  As time marches on, the sins and virtues of the past are less elevant/emotive, and the issue is less polarising.  But that said, as time marches and Australia and the UK head down our own national paths, the inappropriateness of our constitutional arrangements only becomes more obvious.


The other way things might change is if we get a republican Lib PM, and I'd suggest the chances of that at some time in the next 15 to 20 years are very very good.

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