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What's all the fuss about a republic

By Matt Thistlethwaite - posted Tuesday, 9 February 2016

When it comes to the question of Australia becoming a republic I don't understand what all the fuss is about.

It has been quite bemusing to watch the likes of Tony Abbott stoically defending our connection to the British Monarchy over the past week as Australia Day inevitably raises the question of our future as a nation.

The fact is when it comes to the British Royal family and an Australian republic in practical terms absolutely nothing will change for Australia, Australians, Britain and the British.


If Australia votes to appoint our own head of state our relationship with the British Royal family will remain exactly as it is today. The way we are governed will not change, we will still remain part of the Commonwealth and our affection for members of the royal family will remain undiminished. They will even still continue to visit our distant shores.

In terms of Australia's relationship with the British Monarchy a switch to a republic will not change our relationship at all.

Since the Hawke Government passed the Australia Act through the Commonwealth Parliament in 1986 Australia has been a "sovereign, independent and federal" nation.

The effect of this legislation, which was also passed by the British Parliament in the identical terms, was to remove the remaining possibilities for the United Kingdom to make laws for Australia or to be involved in Australian Government and for appeals from an Australian Court to a British court.

In practical terms we have no remaining governance connection with the United Kingdom at all, and although our Constitution states that legislation must receive royal assent before it becomes law this role has been performed by an Australian in the monarch's name since 1901.

In terms of the way we govern ourselves and how we make our laws not a thing will change if Australia becomes a republic. It will make no change to the lives of Australians at all.


If we do amend our Constitution to appoint an Australian Head of State we will also still remain a part of the Commonwealth, and yes we will still send a team of athletes to the Commonwealth Games every 4 years.

Thirty two republic nations are members of the Commonwealth including Singapore, India, South Africa and Fiji and there is no differentiation in status of membership between republic nations, Commonwealth realms or nations with their own Monarchs like Brunei.

So when it comes to the Commonwealth, voting to become a republic will not change our involvement or status of this organization one bit.

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About the Author

Matt Thistlethwaite is the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and the MHR for Kingsford Smith.

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