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The Forum > Article Comments > Libertarian individuals in Australian republicanism > Comments

Libertarian individuals in Australian republicanism : Comments

By Cameron Riley, published 9/8/2005

Cameron Riley traces the history of Australian republicanism.

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Thanks Cameron for this reminder that republicanism has shaped Australia since the time when our first colonial governments were established.

Is it any wonder that Australian colonies were great democratic innovators? The secret ballot, womenís suffrage and the federation of the states via referendum were the achievements of a people who were unbound by tradition.

The modern republican movement also presents Australians at their most inventive and pragmatic, including Jason Yat Sen Li at the 1998 Constitutional Convention proposing a Presidential Nominations Committee and of course former Victorian Governor Richard McGarvie and his ultra-minimalist Constitutional Council. Reading through the submissions and Hansard of the 2004 Senate Inquiry, we find Ross Garrad who proposed a Citizens Jury Selection Model and Former Chief Justice Sir Gerard Brennanís system of reserve power certification. Apologies to the many others who have presented original solutions, concepts and mechanisms.

Even monarchists have dabbled in novel ideas: Tony Abbotís compromise of declaring the Governor-General as Head of State and Sir David Smithís remarkable argument that this already the case. Something must have rubbed off.

And letís not forget the many personalities, too many to name, who have passionately fought for an Australian Republic. Dunmore Lang, Harpur and Vosper et al. would be proud.

At the last referendum a large number of voters may have voted no, but were really saying you can do better. Republicans of all persuasions have accepted the challenge and we will do much better Ė brilliantly better!

Any comments below on "a wider republican philosophy and doctrine [reflecting] the republican leanings of the Australian people", I may take to a Republican Gathering to be held 12th - 13th August in Canberra and involving a range of organisations and individuals.
Posted by David Latimer, Tuesday, 9 August 2005 11:26:47 PM
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On the wider Republic doctrine and philosophy, I wrote an article that applied Australian Republican doctrine to the Australian Defence Force ( It extrapolated those principles into defence policy.

The central foundation of Australian Republicanism, through the last two hundred years to today are;

Inviolable Rights
Equity under the Law
Seperation of Powers
Australian solutions to Australian issues are superior.
Self-confidence on the global stage.

Combined with this is the Australian Republican Democrat tradition. Republicans have been the most prominent advocates for improved democracy, suffrage and equality of representation.

The area's that most suffer for lack of Republican principles in Australia are the areas where the Australian people have trouble influencing. These are the constitution, parliament and foreign policy. In each of these areas the professional politicians exclude the will of the people, and if they do have to make a change, often use wedge tactics to ensure their power remains unencumbered.

At the constitutional level, a monarchy is repugnant to an Australian republican. Equity demands that the monarchy not be a part of the Australian political system. Australia also requires a Bill of Rights which would formalise the natural rights of an individual in the political system. This is just Australia playing catch up to the Enlightenment - which the bearded men chose to ignore.

At the parliamentary level, many tweaks are needed if we are to continue using the parliamentary system. These are necessary to improve the seperation of powers, something the Westminster is not strong on.

The other major, and glaring issue is foreign policy. The Great and Powerful Friends doctrine of foreign policy is repugnant to Australian Republicanism. This needs to change as well.

Australian Republican doctrine can be applied to wider government policy to ensure just and fair outcomes.

Posted by cam, Thursday, 11 August 2005 8:31:42 AM
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We have just seen a demonstration of the inherent social, moral and political nature of the commited, hard core republicans among the new senators that were sworn in on Tuesday, when to a man (or woman) they swore on Oath that they would be faithful, and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty. They make me want to vomit.

God save the Queen!
Posted by plerdsus, Thursday, 11 August 2005 4:56:10 PM
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I'm happy to stick with the system we have, largely because it connects us with something beyond our little population of 20 million people.

A century ago, the people of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia agreed to look beyond their borders and see similarity rather than difference. I'm glad they didn't think small, because by thinking big they created our federation.

In a world where closer ties between nations are increasingly necessary, we too should not think small, should not let parochial nationalism limit our vision. We should again be looking beyond our borders and seeking similarity rather than difference.

The best chance Australia has to find its place in the world is to work more closely with the countries that share our basic values, culture and institutions: New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom. Abandoning a political system that has served us all so well is a step away from the very people that should be our closest partners: it is about thinking small when we have a perfect opportunity to think big.

Ian Alexander,
Federal Commonwealth Society
Posted by Ian, Tuesday, 16 August 2005 1:47:24 AM
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