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How about OUR Republic?

By Klaas Woldring - posted Tuesday, 5 December 2006

The republic is bursting to be launched. Perhaps that should be: the republic’s PROCESS and STRATEGY are bursting to be launched. But what is stopping it? Why don't we hear about it?

Without a doubt: lack of political will by the government of the day! But what else? The minimalist approach that avoids facing up to the massive shortcomings of the Constitution of Australia. Or, most of all, a lack of information and basic knowledge on the part of the overwhelming majority of "ordinary Australians”? How about we do a crash course to bring these “ordinary Australians”, who are so often quite “extra-ordinary” people, up to speed with the need for change?

The real issues here are: what kind of republic and how can it be achieved? Do we actually have parliaments that are representative of the people? Do we really have governments that reflect the people’s preferences? Or have they become a law onto themselves who promise one thing and do another: an assembly of spin-doctors - the two-party tyranny that passes for democracy?


The answers to those questions are in How about OUR Republic?.

It has to be OUR republic! Not a republic dreamt up by the political establishment of this country as happened in 1999 when one model was presented that didn’t convince many people at all.

The superficial republic debate of the 1990s ended in referendum failure. One of the most telling shortcomings of that debate was that the citizens had so little information.

Has this deplorable situation of inadequate knowledge been remedied since 1999? The answer is an emphatic NO! It should have been an emphatic YES!

Not surprisingly, the Howard Government has done nothing to increase the voters’ understanding of how the existing system works, what is wrong with it and what can be done to move towards a republic.

A number of pro-republic community groups have continued - as well as the Australian Republic Movement (ARM) - to make modest contributions to advance the cause further. A senate-initiated inquiry was held in 2003 and 2004, the recommendations of which are discussed in this book. Still, in the meantime the ties with Britain have weakened further and the need for an Independent Australian Republic and constitutional change, in many areas, is more obvious than ever.


A further major shortcoming of the 1990s debate was its persistently minimalist character. The ARM and the major political parties deliberately considered only the replacement of the Queen by an Australian President as head of state. The entire debate concentrated on that change rather than on the much more important issue “what kind of republic” and the process by which that would be achieved.

The initiators of the ARM assured voters time and again that this was the only change they had in mind and that people should not worry that there was perhaps more to come. That would not happen.

The third, related republic destroyer was the Government’s decision to present the debate as one between the “republicans” and the “monarchists”. This strategy started well before the Constitutional Convention of February 1998, dominated by major party politicians and former politicians, where the only model for the referendum was generated.

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How about OUR Republic?  is published by BookSurge,  Melbourne, printed by BookPod and distributed by the author.

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About the Author

Dr Klaas Woldring is a former Associate Professor of Southern Cross University.

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