Argument: Ending the monarchy would establish Australian independence from Britain

Issue Report: Australian republic vs. monarchy

Supporting quotes

John Pyke. “Reasons Why Australia Should be a Republic”. 1997 – “A Republic as a Manifestation of Australia’s Independence and Nationhood
Mr Keating’s reason for wanting to institute a republic – to show our independence from Britain – is also a reason for wanting to change at least the present version of the monarchy, in which our Queen’s principal residence is in England, her principal office is as the Queen of the United Kingdom, and she and her family open British stands at international trade fairs, where the Brits are in competition with Australian traders. Members of the Royal family refer to themselves, with admirable frankness, as “invited visitors” when they perform their duties in Australia. They clearly regard themselves as English, and their principal loyalty is clearly to the interests of the United Kingdom (or perhaps merely to the English part of the Union?).

Further, being “subjects” of the Queen affects the way in which people of other nations perceive us. I am not saying we should have so little self-confidence that we would be guided on an issue like this solely by what other people think of us, but it is a factor. When the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, replied to a toast to himself at a dinner in Canberra, he followed protocol by toasting (in her absence) “the Queen of Australia” – and everyone who was there could tell that he was just as struck by the absurdity of it as most of the Australians present were. When I recently met a law Professor from Japan, the first thing he wanted to know was how I felt about Australia being seen as tied to Britain; he thought we needed a better symbol of our own independence. Our former Brisbane Lord Mayor, Sally-Anne Atkinson, was converted to republicanism by her experiences as the ambassador to UNESCO, in Paris – people were constantly commenting on the oddity of our being “ruled” by the Queen of England.

Of course, if the above concerns were the only basis for objecting to the monarchy, we could try to negotiate a change to it, so that Her Majesty spent equal time in, and demonstrated equal concern for, all parts of the Commonwealth. However, it seems highly unlikely that this more-than-upper-class English woman could adapt her ways – her homes are in England and Scotland and she could hardly pretend to be anything but a visitor anywhere else. If we were really attached to the hereditary principle, we could try to organise things so that one of Her Majesty’s children inherited a separate Throne of Australia – though that would need amendments both to our Constitution and to the UK Act of Succession – or somehow start an Australian royal house by appointing a sports star, or a “soapie” star, as monarch. But even as one mentions those alternatives one realises how totally inappropriate they would seem to modern Australians – we tolerate the existing monarchy simply because it is something that we have grown up with, like English Christmas dinners in summer, but if we consider an alternative only one seems consistent with democratic, more-or-less-egalitarian Australian values – a republic.”

William Byrne. “Republic Versus Monarchy”. December, 1995 – “Denial of Australian independence

To have an English Monarch as “ruler” of Australia is an impediment to our nation obtaining its own sense of full independence and true self-government.

A nation that does not have its own Head of State is not truly independent. It is ridiculous that the decision as to who shall be Australia’s Head of State is made in another country on the other side of the world (Australia has no say in who the Monarch is to be succeeded by). Some maintain that having a foreign Monarch is of no consequence, as it is only a “symbolic ruler” – but then why shouldn’t we be concerned about being “symbolic serfs”? Symbols are very important to people – evidenced by the heated debates over proposals to change the design of the national flag.

With so many activities of the federal and state governments, and their bureaucracies, being carried out in the name of the Monarch of the United Kingdom, it would appear that we are still a subservient part of the British Empire, rather than a modern independent nation.

The Constitution of Australia, itself an Act of the British Parliament, gives the U.K. Monarch, and its representative – the Governor-General, wide ranging powers over the Australian nation. This is especially spelt out in Chapter Two of the Constitution, whereby the Governor-General shall exercise the government of the Commonwealth, although there shall be a Federal Executive Council to “advise” him (Section 62). Section 61 says “The executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen and is exercisable by the Governor-General as the Queen’s representative”.

In fact, Section 1 of the Constitution specifically declares that the Federal Parliament comprises three parts: “the Queen, a Senate, and a House of Representatives”, that is, a bill passed by both Houses of Parliament will not become law until the Monarch or its representative has assented to it (see Sections 58 & 60). Also, Section 59 specifically allows the Monarch “to disallow any law within one year from the Governor-General’s assent”. While, in reality, these provisions may not be used, they do indicate our “symbolic” subordination to the English Crown.

While we may see ourselves, in practice, as a sovereign nation, we are not truly an independent nation so long as we are shackled to colonial status. To achieve true independence Australia must remove the Monarch of the United Kingdom as it’s “ruler” and establish a new Constitutional base for the nation.”