The Australian Republic Referendum
November 6th, 1999

For faster navigation to the items on this page, click on the red pins rather than scrolling down.
News Updates
PM's Draft Preamble Original Preamble Newspaper Articles
Republic Links Foreign Preambles New Suggestions Our Preambles (new page)


THE QUESTIONS
Write YES or NO in the space provided opposite the question set out below.
A PROPOSED LAW: To alter the Constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic with the Queen and Governor-General being replaced by a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament.
DO YOU APPROVE THIS PROPOSED ALTERATION?
Write YES or NO
This is the first part of the referendum.

Write YES or NO in the space provided opposite the question set out below.
A PROPOSED LAW: To alter the Constitution to insert a preamble.
DO YOU APPROVE THIS PROPOSED ALTERATION?
Write YES or NO
Accepting or rejecting the preamble will be the second decision of the referendum

THE PREAMBLE
With hope in God, the Commonwealth of Australia is constituted as a democracy with a federal system of government to serve the common good. We, the Australian people, commit ourselves to this constitution,
proud that our national unity has been forged by Australians from many ancestries;
never forgetting the sacrifices of all who have defended our country and our liberty in time of war;
upholding freedom, tolerance, individual dignity and the rule of law;
honouring Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, the nation's first people, for their deep kinship with their lands and for their ancient and continuing cultures which enrich the life of our country;
recognising the nation-building contribution of generations of immigrants;
mindful of our responsibility to protect our unique natural environment;
supportive of achievement as well as equality and opportunity for all;
and valuing independence as dearly as the national spirit which binds us together in both adversity and success.

Check out Nicholson's cartoon on the preamble from "The Australian".


Introduction

Leading up to the republic referendum later in the year, I thought it might be interesting for my year 11 English class at Unley High School to examine the preamble to the constitution as an exercise in English.

It is rare for words and poets to receive so much publicity in the media. Whole articles have been written about single words like mateship and custodianship so writing a preamble is obviously a suitable task for a class studying language.

We began by reading the draft preamble, then the original preamble to the constitution from 1900 and finally the suggestion by the Labor party which was also printed in the paper. We looked at a number of other modern preambles to constitutions that we were able to find on the internet.

Students now have the task of comparing the preambles, suggesting what they think is important in an Australian, and any other preamble, and then drafting their own. When that is done we will put them up on this page together with the accompanying arguments produced. We began this assignment on March 26th, 1999, and continued after the Term 1 school holidays.

We will also be studying Australian poetry, Australian films and further Republic issues as they arise.


Here is the draft preamble produced by then Prime Minister, John Howard and his 'mate,' poet Les Murray.

Draft of the Proposed New Preamble to the Australian Constitution

With hope in God, the Commonwealth of Australia is constituted by the equal sovereignty of all its citizens.

The Australian nation is woven together of people from many ancestries and arrivals. Our vast island continent has helped to shape the destiny of our Commonwealth and the spirit of its people.

Since time immemorial our land has been inhabited by Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, who are honoured for their ancient and continuing cultures.

In every generation immigrants have brought great enrichment to our nation's life.

Australians are free to be proud of their country and heritage, free to realise themselves as individuals, and free to pursue their hopes and ideals. We value excellence as well as fairness, independence as dearly as mateship.

Australia's democratic and federal system of government exists under law to preserve and protect all Australians in an equal dignity which may never be infringed by prejudice or fashion or ideology nor invoked against achievement.

In this spirit we, the Australian people, commit ourselves to this Constitution.


Original Preamble to the Australian Constitution
"The preamble, or lead-in words, refers to the key principles which gives the Constitution its authority, or legitimacy. It also provides a brief summary of the main features of the legal institutions that form the foundations of the Constitution. Many observers agree that the preamble should be re-written whether Australia becomes a republic or retains its current status."
"Court and Tort" A Student's Workbook for the Legal Studies' Course by Geoff Bailey

Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland; and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established:

And whereas it is expedient to provide for the admission into the Commonwealth of other Australasian Colonies and possessions of the Queen:

Be it therefore enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-


Links to useful sites for the Republic debate

Australian Republican Movement on Facebook.

Constitution of Australia.

The republic issues: a guide.

Australian politics. I copied Nicholson's republic cartoon above onto this page immediately it appeared-it is not taken from the Australian Politics site!

The Australian Republican Movement Page-relaunched as Our Identity 2012

Australian Monarchists' League, featuring an intro by Alan Jones.

Head of state issue for the republic.

David Nicholl's site about the preamble. He has included a number of satirical preambles and links.

Constitutional referenda in Ausralia.

The Ausflag Home Page: Australian flags, past and present-forget the emotion, get the facts.

The Republic Unplugged: an up to date page that tells you what the enemy is thinking.


Local Newspaper Articles
MATE, IT'S A GREAT IDEA
Bizarre. Who would have thought the issue splitting Australia about its future direction would be mateship?
The ideal that embodies equality, egalitarianism and the Anzac spirit in a uniquely Aussle way appears to be on the outer.
A chorus of critics has canned Prime Minister John Howard's inclusion of the word in his proposed preamble to a republican Constitution, labelling it undignified.
Howard's preface is a tad clumsy. It is a long and winding road to state his vision of who we are and where we are going, but it has plenty going for it, including its unashamed reference to mateship.
Yet the knockers have gone ballistic, calling it everything under the sun - including sexist and racist. It is not as though the Howard preface runs along the lines of: 'G'day cobbers, we've a grouse land full of sheilas and beer, and here are the laws to prove it.'
The mateship reference is a simple, dignified pointer to a quality admired as being forged in pioneer spirit and evolving to be cherished in the diversity of modern Australia. Its inclusion in a preamble would give the uniting knockabout quality its due reverence. By injecting mateship into the new version it would take the spiel from the lawyers and give it back to the people.If mateship is banished in the name of political correctness it will say something about 21st century Australia.
The Labor Party and the Democrats oppose Howard's prose generally. Well, they would, wouldn't they, although the ALP's version has a lot going for it. Feminists oppose the incluslon of mateship because it is too blokey; yet mateship is more about what's in your mind than what's between your legs.
Ethnic groups want a more direct celebration of multiculturalism; I am loathe to unreservedly celebrate all aspects of all cultures - not when some include quaint traditions such as ownership of wives, female circumcision, corporal and capital punishment, child labor and arranged marriages.
Yet one of the biggest problems prefacing the Constitution is a custody battle. These fights tend to be ugly - the one most loved tends to suffer. Who is to get custody of Australia immediately divides the camp into two sides.
Howard's version honors Aborigines, but does not grant them custodianship of the land. His caution is understandable.
Custodianship implies two nations, of guards and squatters. Aboriginal custodianship may be a nice sentiment, but the reality of a 21st century Australia is different.
Perhaps a joint custody order would go some way towards cementing a responsible mateship between all Aussies. Then we can look at the real issue - what comes after the preamble.

Brad Crouch, "The Sunday Mail", March 28th, 1999

DEAR JOHN, YOUR WORDS FAIL US
The big danger in the Prime Minister's Constitution preamble is that, because it is so vague and confusing, it will invite High Court interference to provide its own tight definitions.
The last thing we want is appointed judges changing a seminal document which, one way or another, will have been blessed by the electors.
Mr Howard's preamble refers to "our vast Island continent". What about Tasmania? Also, the High Court's contentious Mabo decision resulted from an application from Mirriam Islanders of the Torres Strait. We know what the PM means, but it encourages judicial interpretation.
Then there's "hope in God". Surely this is an affront to Buddhists, Hindus and others in that it does not recognise the existence of different faiths.
As for mateship, husbands often refer to their wives as mates, but in general women seldom use the word. Mates is not gender neutral.
The preamble acknowledges the "nation is woven together of people from rnany ancestries and arrivals" and refers to the Aborigines' ancient and continuing cultures. But surely, since the preamble should be fashioned to be timeless it should recognise that one
strong, defining Australian character is rapidly emerging from the cultural mix of all our people.
Although the word citizen is supposed to embrace everybody, in Australia it can too easily be taken to mean people who live in cities rather than those who are nation-building in the country. Instead of "sovereignty of all its citizens", the word people, as used in the Constitution, would be more suitable.
The document as a whole needed not a poet, but a good sub-editor.
The Imperative in the preamble should be inclusiveness. The wording should be inspiring, vigorous and confident. In this regard Labor's preamble version is commendably direct, but still falls short of what we deserve.
Mr Howard is right to reject the Constitutional Convention's recommendation to acknowledge the "custodianship" over the land by Aboriginal people, which is ambiguous.
Does this have any implications for land rights today?
Actually, the arrival of the Aborigines changed the land's ecology by the introduction of fire. Varieties that survived fire well, such as eucalypts and banksias, prospered. The original ecology did not survive unchanged after the Aborigines arrived.
But overall, John, admit it. Your preamble is a mishmash. You must try again.

Les Hollings, "The Sunday Mail", March 28th, 1999

WORD JUMBLE WASTE OF TIME
The issue of a new pre-amble to the Constitution has become the topic of the month. So far, we have a draft from the Constitutional Convention, a draft from the Labor Party and the John Howard draft. And we have a real bunfight, focusing on the content and style of the Howard proposal. The reactions, mostly negative, emphasise the real, deep and, I would suggest, insoluble problems of trying to write a preamble. The Howard draft has offended many groups. The women's movement will not have a bar of "mateship". In one sense, I agree - the ways that the term "mate" is used, especially inside the Labor movement, are not always symbolic of friendship and co-operation.
Aboriginal leaders have rejected the Howard draft. Some leaders of ethnic communities have complained about insufficient recognition. Mr Beasley is rock solid in his opposition. Don't be surprised if other groups in our society also come out and demand that they, too, deserve specIfic recognition and inclusion.
The Australian Republican Movement is concerned about the intensity of the debate. And so it should be. If too many people become alienated simply because they do not feel they have sufficient, or any, recognition and if too many people are simply confused or put off by the brawl about the preamble, then the ARM should rightly worry that such a mood could flow on to produce a "no" vote in both referendum questions. The proposed change to a republic could be defeated by lack of agreement about a few words in a preamble.
My view is that Shakespeare got it right.- "Much ado about nothing". What all the warfare is about is what my Oxford defines as an "introductory statement ... introductory part". The arguments are about an introduction to the Constitution, a preamble which is not even part of the constitution. Why worry about it, at all? Does it really matter? Would our structures of politics, our commitment to the principles which are supposed to be embodied in the Constitution, be damaged by simply not having a preamble at all?
The standard argument for having a preamble is that it would contain the fundamental statement of who we are, where we came from and what guides our politics. Certainly, the existing preamble reflects some of this, but in terms of the Australian society and psyche in the minds the founding fathers in the 1890s. It is out of date and simply of no relevance as a description of "us". That is sufficient reason for getting rid of the old version.
But neither the preamble nor the Constitution has much to say about the principles which should guide our political structures and processes.
There is a virtual silence about basic principles such as representative democracy and responsible government - about what they really mean and how they should operate. However, if there is an uproar about what should go into the preamble - the introduction- imagine the chaos which would emerge if these were on the agenda as well. Any attempt to redefine "us", our nature, hopes, desires and philosophies in the complex society of the 1990s is bound to fragment. There will never be a consensus on the content and the wording. Some people, groups and sections will be appalled. Others will be happy. Many will remain apathetic - to whatever the preamble says. So why bother? Will the absence of a preamble cause any problems? If we do not have an introduction to the Constitution, will it cause any harm to us, or to the document and the way in which it works? I suspect none at all.
So, why don't we agree on one thing - that raising the issue of a new preamble was an interesting exercise, but proceeding with it will be more divisive than the final product will be worth? To attempt to please everyone, the result would have to be as fuzzy as blancmange, about as meaningful as simply having "G'day" as a preamble. I cannot think of any absolutely convincing reason why we need a preamble and hence no reason why we, as a society, should go through the pain of a very divisive political argument over it.

Dean Jaensch is the Professor of Politics at Flinders University.

Dean Jaensch, The Advertiser, Thursday April 1st, 1999


Preambles of various other Constitutions

CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES PREAMBLE
We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

SOUTH AFRICAN PREAMBLE
"We, the people of South Africa,
Recognise the injustices of our past;
Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land;
Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country;
and Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.
We therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic so as to -
Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights
Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law;
Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person;
Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.
May God protect our people.
Nkosi Sikelel'i Afrika.
Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso.
God sen Suid-Afrika.
God bless South Africa.
Mudzimu fhatutshedza Afurika.
Hosi katekisa Afrika.

DRAFT PREAMBLE OF THE ESTONIAN REPUBLIC CONSTITUTION
It is in unfaltering faith and with an unwavering desire to secure and develop a state that is based on the unquenchable right of the Estonian people to determine their own statehood, and proclaimed on February 24, 1918, that is based on freedom, justice and law, that stands as a protector of peace, both internally and externally, and serves as a pledge to current and future generations in their social progress and overall well-being, that must guarantee the preservation of the Estonian nationality and culture through ages to come, that the people of Estonia have adopted, in accordance with Article 1 of the constitution that took effect in 1938, the following constitution in the general elections held on June 28, 1992.

PREAMBLE FOR THE LAO CONSTITUTION
For thousands of years, the multi-ethnic Lao people lived and growed on this beloved land. More than six centuries ago, during the time of Chao Fa Ngum, our ancestors founded the unified Lane Xang country and built it into a prosperous and glorious land.

From the 18th century A.D. onwards, the Lao land had been repeatedly threatened and invaded by outside powers. Our people had united to develop the heroic and unyielding traditions of their ancestors and continually and persistently fought to regain independence and freedom.

Over the past 60 years, under the correct leadership of the former Indochinese Communist Party and the present Lao People's Revolutionary Party, the multi-ethnic Lao people had carried out a difficult and arduous struggle, filled with great sacrifices, until they managed to crush the yoke of domination and oppression of the colonialist and feudalist regimes, completely liberated the country, and established the Lao People's Democratic Republic on 2 December 1975; thus opening a new era, an era of genuine independence for the country and true freedom for the people.

In the recent years, our people have together implemented the two strategic tasks of safeguarding and building the country, and have initially achieved satisfactory results.

And now in this new period, the society requires that the State must have a Constitution. This Constitution is the Constitution of the People's Democratic Regime in our country. It recognizes the great achievements gained by our people in the struggle for national liberation and development; it defines the political regime, the socio-economic system, the fundamental rights and duties of citizens and the system of organization of the state's apparatus in this new period. This is the first time in the history of our nation that the people's right to mastery is defined in the fundamental law of the nation.

This Constitution is the product of the process of discussion by the people throughout the country. It reflects the long-term aspirations and strong determination of the national community to strive together to fulfill the objective of building the Lao nation into a country of peace, independence, democracy, unity and prosperity.

PREAMBLE FOR THE CONSTITUTION OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC
We, the citizens of the Czech Republic in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia, at the time of the renewal of the independent Czech State, true to all the sound traditions of the ancient statehood of the Crown Lands of Bohemia as well as to those of the Czechoslovak statehood, determined to build up, protect and develop the Czech Republic in the spirit of the inviolable values of human dignity and liberty as a homeland of equal, free citizens, who are aware of their duties towards others and of their responsibility to society as a whole, as a free and democratic state, based on respect for human rights and on the principles of a civic society, as a part of the family of the democracies of Europe and of the world, determined to act together in safeguarding and developing the inherited natural and cultural, material and spiritual wealth, determined to abide by all the well-proven principles of law-governed state, hereby adopt, through our freely elected representatives, the following Constitution of the Czech Republic.

The development of the American Constitution : a documentary record in the Avalon project at Yale Law School.

Constitutions and treaties of the World on a German constitutional law page.


Suggested Preambles written by Amateur Preambulists

It's embarrassing to have a great idea only to find that other people have had the same great idea! "The Weekend Australian", March 27th-28th, which we do not get at home, had a number of articles on the preamble together with various attempts by some well known Australians to improve on John Howard's effort (Thanks to Marianthi who brought the articles to school). The links to the republic site no longer work but hopefully the articles are archived. Below is one preamble written by students from that site, together with the Labor Party preamble, Jeff Kennett's attempt and the latest version of the Labor preamble by Gareth Evans.

STUDENTS
The Commonwealth of Australia is constituted by the equality of all its citizens.
Our united people drawn from nations across the globe, people from many ancestries, have helped shape our Commonwealth and the spirit of its people.
We the people of Australia recognise indigenous Australians as the original occupants of the land.
Believing in freedom and equality and embracing democracy and the rule of law, we commit ourselves to this, our Constitution.
Sarah, Amanda, Kaycee and Louise are students at Launceston College.

LABOR PREAMBLE
Having come together in 1901 as a Federation under the Crown, relying on the blessing of Almighty God, and the Commonwealth of Australia being now a sovereign democracy, our united people drawn from nations across the globe,
We the people of Australia
Proud of our diversity
Loving our unique and ancient land
Recognising indigenous Australians as the original occupants and custodians of our land
Believing in freedom and equality, and
Embracing democracy and the rule of law
Commit ourselves to this our Constitution.

DECLARATION OF THE PEOPLE OF AUSTRALIA by Jeff Kennett, Premier of Victoria
We commit ourselves to the Commonwealth of Australia as a sovereignty founded on the values of equality and dignity.
We hold inviolable the rights of a free people - to speak freely and to make our own choices in the pursuit of knowledge, opportunity and fulfilment.
Australia's distinctive identity and lifestyle are to be prized and cherished.
We celebrate difference, and are united by the heritage of a harmonious indigenous and international culture, and the custodianship of an ancient, fragile land.
The future is our frontier and our destiny is to claim Australia's place in the world.
Our democracy is vested in every individual and confers the protection of the rule of law; and government serves the common good.
In this spirit the Constitution defines Australia's charter for all generations.

A NEW DRAFT PREAMBLE proposed by Labor, the Democrats and the Greens and closely following the draft written by Labor backbencher Mr Gareth Evans, former foreign mininster, released 28-4-99:

Having come together in 1901, relying on God, as a Federation under the Crown;
And the Commonwealth of Australia being now a sovereign democracy, our people drawn from many nations;
We the people of Australia
Proud of our diversity
Celebrating our unity
Loving our unique and ancient land
Recognising indigenous Australians as the original occupants and custodians of our land
Believing in freedom and equality, Embracing democracy and the rule of law
Commit ourselves to this our constitution.

This is less than half the length of Mr Howard's preamble and has been backed by Senator Natasha Stott Despoja of the Democrats and Senator Bob Brown of the Greens.


,Updates added here

I have used the text of articles rather than links to the articles, in some cases, in case they disappear.

  • 3-8-2017: I haven't written any new posts for a long time because there have been no new real arguments. However, things are suddenly hotting up in relation to the constitution with 2 senators having resigned from parliament and one having resigned from the Turnbull ministry over dual citizenship issues and section 44 of the constitution. There has also been a huge debate over whether gay marriage should be voted on in Parliament, the proposed plebiscite on the issue having been defeated by Labor votes in Parliament, mostly because a plebiscite is expensive and non binding and no one wanted it anyway. There is also much publicity for a change to the constitution to recognise aboriginal occupation of Australia prior to white settlement.
    Bill Shorten says he will introduce a vote, not a referendum, asking people simply if they want a republic, Yes or No. Depending on the result Parliament will then have to choose a model and finally a referendum will have to be held to to change the constitution to allow us to become a republic. Referendums do not always produce the expected results either. That's a lot of voting at great expense, but maybe it could be all done online. Let people vote on personal computers at home or go to a polling booth on the day and vote online there. The electoral roll should be online so that it is easier to see if people have voted elsewhere that day anyway.
    The Age opinion.

  • 27-01-2016: Australia Day 2016 has again brought the whole republic debate to the fore, but this time all state premiers, except WA's Colin Barnett, have called for an Australian head of state, in writing. Now the angst begins. How will we choose this head of state?
    The anti republicans say Australia works well as it is, so why change, and I agree. The parliament is elected by the people to run the country and that is what they should do. The Governor General has a role, but a limited one, and is currently chosen by the Prime Minister alone. We should continue to have a Governor General who performs his/her job as before. It is just that he/she will no longer inform the Queen in England of Australian decisions. Since one level of oversight will be then removed, it is important to ensure that the GG is suitable for the role, and for that reason I believe that nominations should be put to the whole of parliament and voted on, and that the Governor General is not just chosen by the Prime Minister alone. The nominees could be discussed but it would have to be closed to the public to remove political overtones. A two thirds majority decision has been suggested and that seems fair. Or perhaps a select committee representing all of parliament could be nominated to choose the GG.
    The Republican movement must come up with a clear and detailed model before the royalists obfuscate the issues with overseas examples. We want a Republic that runs just like the country does now, but without having to pass on all our decisions to the Queen or King of England. Maintain the Governor General and state governors. Don't even change the names.

    As for the flag, let's take the same approach-get rid of the Union Jack in the corner, if we must, although I like the historical connection, right or wrong, and keep the rest. The Southern Cross represents all of Australia as does the Federation star. Perhaps the 4 main Southern Cross stars could be changed to red, black, gold and green to represent aboriginal heritage and the ugly national colours. Just a suggestion. I won't include all the news stories because there isn't anything really new to say.

  • 12-11-2015: Visit of Prince Charles and Camilla in SMH. Australians do not feel desperate for a change.

  • 23-9-2015: Tim Mayfield accuses Greg Craven of 'playing the man' in the Republic debate.

  • 21-9-2015: Anti Peter FitzSimmons rant by Peter Craven in the Australian. He may be vice chancellor of a Catholic university, but his comments are personal and uncharitable.

  • 17-9-2015: Malcolm Turnbull takes over as Prime Minister and hopes are high for Australia becoming a republic.

  • 10-9-2015: The Daily Mail comments on Labour's use of the Queen's record breaking monarchy to argue for a republic. The Western Advocate also discusses the likelihood of a republic, while the queen is still on the throne.

  • 31-08-2015: SBS comedy- Nicholas Fischer claims that we need the monarchy to uphold institutional inequality. The accompanying cartoon is shown at right.

  • I like the slogan,
    Beneath the Southern Cross we stand,
    A sprig of wattle in our hand.

    But then I think, 'we' means more than one, yet it is a single sprig of wattle in 'our' (more than one) singular hand. If we can't even get the slogan grammatically correct, but have a mixture of singulars and plurals, what hope for the republic again? I have decided that if 'we' is Australia as a whole, and the hand is that of Australia, it can be justified, but I wish they'd decided on Sprigs of wattle in our hands.

  • 30-8-2015: No republic anytime soon, claims Tony Abbott, but Christopher Pyne and Malcolm Turnbull have backed Joe Hockey.

  • 25-8-2015: a frenzied burst of activity on the Republic scene. Peter FitzSimons is talking good sense and suddenly ministers in the Liberal Party have joined a 'Friendship Group' in favour of a republic too, led by Treasurer Joe Hockey, much to the chagrin of other members of the Liberal Party, including the Prime Minister.

  • 25-7-2015: Republicans v royalists bring it on! From the Sydney Morning Herald.

  • 22-7-2015: According to The Australian the labor party will make bringing about a republic a priority at its forthcoming national conference. Eight different models for choosing a head of state have been canvassed.

  • 20-7-2015: Author Peter FitzSimons is the new head of the Australian Republican Movement, replacing Geoff Gallop. Fitzsimmons believes that there will soon be bipartisan support for the republic and that we need to get over the celebtity cult around the royal family.

  • 7-2-2015: There has been a huge upsurge of interest in Australia becoming a republic following the incredible decision by Tony Abbott, PM, to declare Prince Phillip a knight of Australia on Australia Day, 2015. People were amazed when the Liberal party brought back old fashioned knighthoods but to bestow one of them on the Queen's consort, however nice a bloke he may be, is unforgiveable in the eyes of most Australians, not to mention an incomprehensible move for an unpopular Prime Minister teetering on the brink of being deposed by his party.
    Bill Shorten calls for republic debate.
    Fallout from the knighthood.
    Political Cartoons on Facebook- great fun.

  • 2-07-2014: Why is Australia not a republic? Blog by John Hirst.

  • 31-01-2014: Seven out of ten Australians support pledging allegiance to Australia and its people, rather than to the Queen.

  • 29-1-2014: Bridie Jabour in the Guardian Australia claims that the republic has been set back 15 years by the arrival of Kate Middleton into the royal family. She is stunned by the lack of support for a republic.

  • 22-11-2013: Amid a growing interest in republic issues, the Governor General, Quentin Bryce, has called for an Australian head of state "one day."

  • 18-7-2013: Outrage by monarchists on republican plot to change Australian coinage.

  • 15-6-2013: Lots of republic stories in the news but mostly reiterating the same old arguments. Now they claim that former SA premier, Mike Rann, has been discussing a future republic with Prince Charles during a series of meetings.

  • 10-6-2013: YouTube news report, possibly Chinese (NTD TV), featuring Wayner Sawn And Malcolm Turnbull.

  • 10-6-2013: Let Project Republic begin. Benjamin Jones urges Australians to begin the ground work for becoming a republic now, as a matter of civic pride.

  • 3-6-2013: Book launch of Project Republic by Wayne Swan and Malcolm Turnbull at Parliament House.

  • 26-5-2013: Australian Republican Movement on Facebook.

  • 19-5-2013: Republican sentiments from an Australian abroad who can't cope with the monarchy's inherited power and Australian monarchists who support it.

  • 14-5-2013: Republicans are here to say, according to Geoff Gallop.

  • 10-5-2013: Relaunch of the republic campaign by Malcolm Turnbull.
  • 10-5-2013: Malcolm Turnbull in the "Australian" has called for an "online plebiscite" on the abolition the monarchy as a precursor to a new republic referendum, saying web-based polls have become more reliable than the traditional paper ballot.
  • 10-5-2013: Independent Australia on the new push for a republic.

  • 25-1-2013: Ausflag has launched a new flag for Australia Day, a sporting flag! It's not bad, but why on earth would we want a sporting flag that's different from the national flag? Simply get rid of the British Union Jack at the corner of our current flag and leave it as it is. I hate the green and gold colours. Gold is good. It stands for the gold of wattle and the gold in the ground. The green is ugly, especially in combination with the gold, and when you think of Australia, do you think of green? Why not make our national colours yellow and the red from the aboriginal flag and ditch the green? Was there a referendum for green and gold?

  • 21-10-2012: The Australian Republican Movement has launched a new campaign in Tasmania, to replace the British monarch with an Australian head of state. They feel that young people are not taking an interest in the republic issue. Predictably, "The Australian" claims that republicans are "reflogging the dead horse."

  • 20-10-2012: The Republican Movement intends to get an agreement about becoming a republic by talking to communities in the country.

  • 26-1-2009: If we are to become a republic Australia needs a leader who is committed and ready to do the hard work acording to Mike Keating, chair of the Australian Republican movement

  • 9-12-2007: It's time to look at republic issues again with the arrival of a new federal Labor Govt.

  • 15-07-2007: a tongue in cheek demand for Prince William to become our governor general.

  • 2-7-2007: an article based on a speech by Andrew Leigh to an ACT Australian Republican Movement dinner, on constitutional reform.

  • 11-7-06: a review of John Howard's time in government in the lead up to the next election and the challenge by Peter Costello. It suggests there is a lot of Liberal support for a republic but not while John Howard is PM.

  • 9-6-06, 4-6-06, 20-4-04: two recent articles on a move for the Republican Movement headquarters and comments on an elected head of state together with 2 articles from 20-4-2004 re moves by Mark Latham to re-introduce the rebulic debate.

  • 27-3-06: An article in The Age by Ray Cassin insists that republicans must bow to the popular support for an elected head of state if they wish to win over the public.

  • 16-3-06: The Queen, the Prime Minister and the British media on the future of an Australian republic-at the Commonwealth Games.

  • 11-3-06: The Commonwealth games, the national anthem and the role of the monarchy from FT.com.

  • 23-1-06: An anti republic article from The Australian re new year publicity for a mate as head of state.

  • 22-1-06: The Governor-General clashes with The ARM.

  • 20-04-04: Mark Latham, as leader of the Labor party, has promised that he will conduct 2 plebiscites followed by a referendum on the republic by 2007, if he becomes PM at the federal election later this year.

  • 28-05-03: the Governor General, Peter Hollingworth, has resigned due to the controversy resulting from his failure to act upon knowledge of child sex abuse by ministers in his archdiocese. Not only has his choice as a GG been called into question, but also the method by which he was chosen-i.e. selection by the Prime Minister who did not even have to consult with other members of Parliament or even his ministers. It is ironic that the referendum for a republic was basically lost on the issue of how the GG would be chosen, yet the present selection method is much less open than the method proposed in the referendum. Once again there are calls for a republic but we need some strong leadership in this area before it goes off the boil again.

  • 3-12-01: Some meaningful action at last!
    REPUBLIC SPLIT EMERGES
    A PEOPLE'S conference of 418 delegates has voted to kick-start moves to a republic by asking Australians a series of questions on the model they prefer before holding another referendum on the issue.
    But a new split emerged immediately, with conservative republicans saying the process was guaranteed to lead to a referendum on a directly elected president, a model they could not support because it would change Australia's system of government.
    "This is the end of the historic coalition between conservative republicans and the Australian Republican Movement that we saw in the 1999 referendum," Notre Dame University law professor Greg Craven declared.
    The ARM, which backed the successful proposal, denied it supported any particular outcome. Rather, said its chairman Greg Barns, it gave people a choice while acknowledging the community groundswell in favour of direct election.
    Professor Craven's proposal before a conference at Corowa, hosted by the Victorian Council for the Centenary of Federation, was defeated in favour of one that was the product of late-night negotiations at the Royal Hote, draped for the occasion with an ARM banner.
    The successful proposal, which combined three others and gained 159 of the 418 eligible votes (195 after preferences), provides first for a parliamentary committee to consult the community and constitutional experts, and then prepare a multi-question plebiscite, a national, non-binding vote.
    This would ask whether Australia should become a republic and, if so, whether the head of state should be called president or governor-general.
    The plebiscite would also give Australians the choice between four models: a president chosen by the prime minister, as the governor-general is now; by a two-thirds majority of federal parliament, as proposed in the unsuccessful 1999 referendum; by an electoral college; or elected by popular vote, with the president's powers spelled out in the Constitution.
    If the plebiscite vote was "yes" for a republic, an elected constitutional convention would draft a constitutional amendment to be put in a referendum.
    An enabling committee, including former High Court judges Gerard Brennan and Daryl Dawon and former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer, will urge the Howard Government to implement the proposal.
    The Government did not send a representative to the conference and will not act without strong public pressure.
    Professor Craven told the conference the proposal "programs" direct election because it offered it in a way in which its surface appeal was maximised and its faults were difficult to expose.
    His proposal, by contrast, would involve an initial vote on whether Australia should become a republic and then an elected constitutional convention to debate all options and decide on one to be put in a referendum.
    The proposal by former Victorian governor Richard McGarvie, who initiated the Corowa conference, came second in the ballot.

    Mike Steketee, The Australian, Monday, Dec 3rd 2001

  • 5-01-01: Corresponding to the centenary of Federation, the Republic Movement has launched a petition to the House of Reps and the Senate asking for a plebiscite on the issue of Australia becoming a republic.
    "PETITION TO THE HONOURABLE THE SPEAKER AND THE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ASSEMBLED IN PARLIAMENT
    This petition of certain citizens of Australia draws to the attention of the House the growing desire for Australia to become a republic. Your petitioners therefore call on the House to conduct a plebiscite asking the Australian people if Australia should become a republic with an Australian citizen as Head of State in place of the Queen."

  • 4-11-2000: The Weekend Australian looked at the republic issue one year after the vote. The feeling is that we won't get a chance to vote on the issue again for a few years. After an education campaign on the constitution, Kim Beazley wants a plebiscite to decide whether we want a republic and then a referendum to decide on the form that would take. Apathy abounds on the issue.

  • 7-11-99: the day after. The 'Nos' won. We are not a republic. What a waste of time and money on an issue which will not go away. As Barry Jones said on TV, it was a triumph for the pessimists over the optimists. In a great article in The Weekend Australian Emma Tom pointed out that one of the slogans was, "If you don't know, vote no." She went on to say,"Well bugger that. If you don't know, bloody well find out." I thought that was spot on.

    Voting yes to a republic was seen as a yuppie thing to do so all the non-yuppies showed them! Don't ask me what being a yuppie had to do with being a republic and getting rid of the queen, who seemed a little embarrassed and bemused to find she was still the Queen of Australia. As usual she was very dignified and correct.

    When they sang a magnificent "Waltzing Matilda" and "Advance Australia Fair" at the rugby union world championships in Wales late Saturday night, what a shiver down the spine it gave me to think how much more thrilling it would have been if we were also a just-declared republic. Oh well, next time, perhaps. Here is Peter Nicholson's cartoon comment from The Weekend Australian.

    Whoops, I almost forgot. The preamble, on which this page was based, was defeated too. And a good job. If we don't want to change things, why would we want to accept a poorly-written piece with all those present participles, which, if not exactly dangling, were certainly uncomfortable.

  • 5-11-99:the day before the vote. The radio is full of republic discussion and tempers are frayed. Visiting Poms interviewed can't seem to understand why we would want to keep the queen.I am looking forward to a good debate on SBS tonight but didn't think there was much left to say. Samela Harris came up with another good article, which I enjoyed reading. She pointed out that it is odd to hear supporters of the monarchy accusing republicans of elitism when the monarchy is elitism in its clearest form.

  • Samela Harris summarised the issues very well in The Advertiser yesterday. There is little more to say.Those who don't know the facts or who live in fear of the new, won't be swayed. I have admired Kim Beazley's leadership on this topic. If Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam joining forces can't persuade people to vote yes, then I don't know what will work. It is about time people stopped moaning and whingeing about elected politicians-if you don't trust them, why vote for them in the first place? And if I hear once more that 70% of people want an elected president, I will go mad. 70% of a few people said that, some time ago when most people knew nothing about the constitution because it hasn't been taught in schools (except very recently in Legal studies) At least our knowledge of the constitution has been improved by all the discussion.

  • 27-10-99: An excellent article by Rex Jory in The Advertiser, pointing out that we are going to look extremely silly to the rest of the world, where countries are fighting for independence, if we reject the opportunity to become a republic, independent of Britain at last.
    The loonies are receiving too much radio airplay with theories that the republic vote is a plot by politicians to gain more power, take over the army etc.

  • 19-10-99: The debate continues. I'm worried that the No ads are more effective. The Yes campaign needs to have a few simple talking head ads which state the facts-like that the present Governor General IS a politicians' GG, more so than a future president elected according to the referendum model, that the Queen IS the head of the state and if she isn't (as the No case keep saying) why don't we get rid of her then, and that most of the so-called 69 changes to the constitution involve changing the word Governor General to President?

    The joint Australian/British debate on TV, involving Bob Hawke and Geoffrey Robertson, a constitutional lawyer, among others, was very frustrating- especially for the Yes case people who kept trying to state the facts and were not allowed to.

  • 11-10-99: Lots of hype as the Yes and No cases get fully underway. The yes case is looking good, but the No case is determined to confuse everyone over the choosing of a president. Currently the Governor General can be chosen simply by the Prime Minister and has the power to dismiss the government as happened in 1975, yet somehow the idea of a president elected by a 2/3 majority of parliament in the new republic is being promulgated as much more dangerous. Why would we want to vote for our parliamentarians and have a popularly elected president as well? The president will be mainly a figure head, not a politician.

  • 4-10-99: An amusing article by Kerry Cue on applying for the job of Australia's first president and the qualifications needed. The Advertiser also claims that South Australia will be "the key battleground of the republic debate over the next month" because a poll shows that we are about to vote no, 48%, to 42% in favour.

  • 2-10-99: Phillip Adams again in The Weekend Australian, on Governor Generals good and bad, and why we don't need a popularly elected president.

  • 25-9-99: Phillip Adams' article in The Weekend Australian about flags, independence, war and politics, Day of the lap-dog is over.

  • 25-9-99: The debate is continuing with the royalists complaining that the advertising campaign isn't fair because the public will see incorrect advertising during the grand final.They are trying to be fair to both sides on TV.

  • 13-8-99: The form of the question to be asked at the republic referendum has been passed in Federal Parliament after a long debate. A decision had to be made if the referendum was to be held on Nov 6th.I thought a question usually asked something which required an answer and ended with a question mark, whereas this 'question' makes a statement and doesn't even have a proper verb. The media are adding the "Do you support" bit.The 'question' about becoming a republic will be followed by a question about whether we accept the Preamble. Let's hope we do, and let's hope the final version is correctly punctuated too. It seems like everyone has got a guernsey, including God.

  • 12-8-99: The Prime Minister reluctantly gave up on 'mateship' for the referendum but succeeded in his wish to avoid the politically correct 'custodianship', using 'kinship' instead.I think 'kinship' sounds much better and also seems to reflect a relationship with the land, rather than a caretaker role.

  • Summarising The Australian on 7-8-99: The preamble must have the support of the Democrats to pass in the Senate. The wording is still under discussion with 'mateship' and 'custodianship' being contentious.The preamble legislation and the November republic referendum legislation must pass by the week ending 14-8-99.

  • The Australian Republican Movement objects to the proposed wording of the referendum because the queen is not mentioned - they want it made clear that a republic will replace the queen with an Australian head of state.

  • Federal Workplace Relations Minister, Peter Reith, who claims to be a republican, is arguing the case for a popularly elected president against the referendum model chosen by the republic convention, of a president nominated by the prime minister, seconded by the leader of the opposition and approved by a two-thirds majority of a joint sitting of both houses of federal parliament. Mr Howard has said that the Liberal Party will allow a free vote on the Republic. Tension has arisen between Mr Reith and Peter Costello, the treasurer, who favours the agreed referendum model. Perhaps all these secondary issues are designed to obscure the real issue which is whether Australians want Australia to be a republic.(7-8-99)

  • Our preambles added 20-5-99

  • "Out with the preamble, on with the vote" wrote David Penberthy in The Advertiser on 3-5-99. He thinks that the PM's preamble is very unpopular though the omission of custodianship was probably in line with the thinking of most Australians. The outcome of all the political debate could be one question at the referendum, "Should Australia become a republic?"

  • "Prime Minister John Howard is threatening to abandon his new constitutional preamble if opposition parties vote down his draft version in the Senate. Good. This means there will be no vote on the inessential preamble issue at the important November republican referendum. Voting on whether or not to become a republic can go ahead without the obfuscation of words that don't matter two hoots."
    Editorial, The Sunday Mail, May 2nd, 1999
    Sad to see that a journalist doesn't think words matter, though I agree that the preamble issue doesn't need to be included in the referendum. We can all have our say on that elsewhere.

  • Gareth Evans released an updated preamble on 28-4-99. Comments on the radio are favourable so far. I've added his page to the links. The preamble appears under the New Suggestions heading. Comments may be sent by email to: preambleconsultaph.gov.au

  • Jeff Kennett's attempt at a preamble was released on 15-4-99. The opening is OK apart from 'as a sovereignty', but 'future frontier' and claiming 'a place in the world' is a real worry. I didn't know we had to make a claim.
    When asked to comment on the Kennett preamble, Mr Olsen, SA Premier, said the debate about the preamble is distracting people from the real issue, which is whether we want a republic or not.

  • The Weekend Australian of 10-4-99 lauded David Nicholl's site about the preamble. I've added his link and some from his page.

  • Kerry Cue in The Advertiser 5-4-99 linked Easter and preambles via belief in God and long weekends, including references to football, chocolate, Homer Simpson and just about everything else.


Page created 28-3-99.
Links checked and updated on 23-10-2012, following the launch of a new republic campaign. Updates added 31-8-2015 following another new campaign and introduction of the new chair, Peter FitzSimons. Updated 3-8-2017 with new Republic push.

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