Australia Day, an annual celebration of our people. It’s a day when we acclaim the achievements of our citizens, and anoint one as our proudest. Hundreds from all over the globe pledge loyalty to our beliefs and laws. In backyards, parks and beaches we gather with family and friends to enjoy our freedom and our natural environment.
Although the day marks the establishment of the British colony, Australia Day is really a celebration of who we are - a democratic, independent people who value fairness, equality and having a go.
Unfortunately, our Constitution fails to accurately reflect the nation of people that we are, and all that we have achieved.
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Thank you Royal Family for bringing me back to my senses. Your groovy new Duchess, and your rain-sodden Diamond Jubilee had lulled me into a feeling of warmth towards your institution that I realise now was caused by a bad bout of demographic creep.
You know that feeling you get when you start buying the Women’s Weekly and listening to the ABC because you think they’ve become cooler, when actually you’ve just become older and less cool? I can now put my recent dabble with Royal love down to that.
And today you’ve grabbed me by the shoulders and shaken me out of it with the publication of your new rules of court.
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It is always a bit shocking when nominal republicans, usually those in public life, suggest we should delay making Australia a truly independent nation. We understand why they do it – most politicians would probably much rather leave the republic issue in the too-hard basket – but still we find it quite perplexing.
An Australian republic, after all, is our Australian issue. It is about us as a nation, as a people. As such, we can and should grasp it whenever we summon the national will to do so. Can you seriously imagine a citizen of the USA agreeing to a foreign national serving as the Head of State of the USA? Or of a German agreeing to a French national being at the apex of their constitutional arrangements?
Either possibility is, of course, unimaginable. Unfortunately, this is precisely the situation we have here in Australia today. We calmly accept that the eldest son of an English / German aristocratic family, who must be a member of the Church of England, sits by birthright – without regard to accomplishment – at the top of our constitutional tree. It almost seems as if we agree with Prince Andrew who recently claimed that it was in the Windsor genes to lead. Do we really think that in egalitarian Australia? Of course not.
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The last time I thought about an Australian republic was in 1999. I was 12 years old and too busy thinking about how hot Prince William was to really care about the republican movement.
Eleven years later, Prince William arrives in Australia. The only time I come into contact with the Royal Family is seeing Willy’s grandma on the $5 note and her head on all the Aussie coins. While I’m interested in the republic v monarchy debate, the dramas of the Royal Family appeals to me even more.
There was a time where the Royal Family were treated with near-universal respect. Now? The walls behind Buckingham Palace are producing scandals the writers of The Bold and the Beautiful wish they could come up with. The Queen must feel a twinge of nostalgia on the days where the family’s dirty laundry wasn’t aired to the press.
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For the past week or so we have been paid visits by two members of Britain’s royal family – Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (5th in line to the throne) and his cousin Zara Phillips (12th in line).
Edward grabbed a few headlines by putting his foot in his mouth just like his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, has been doing for decades. He reckons some young Australians would be prepared to die while trying to win a Duke of Edinburgh Award. How Edward would know anything about the rough and tumble of Awards winning escapes most people.
He has been cocooned in wealth and privilege since birth; he quit the Royal Marines and opted for a life of acting instead and like most royals has never done real days work in his life.
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