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Farewell, Your Majesty

By Lyn Allison - posted Wednesday, 15 March 2006

It is time to bid Her Majesty farewell, not only from our shores, but also from our constitution.

Despite the 1999 referendum failure, opinion polls over the last decade have consistently shown that the majority of Australians are in favour of becoming a republic.

The referendum was unsuccessful because of the insidious tactics employed by the Prime Minister, the campaign of disinformation waged by monarchists, and the stubborn disagreement that existed among republicans over the most desirable model for change.


Even though I staunchly support Australia becoming a republic, there is much that I like about the Queen - not as an office, but as a person.

I admire her diplomatic skill and ability to inspire confidence in her subjects. No doubt, the survival of the monarchy into the 21st century can be largely attributed to her alone.

If she were an Australian citizen standing for our nation’s presidency, I would even consider voting for her. But she is not running for election - and never has.

She is a British citizen who became Australia’s head of state through birthright rather than the demonstrated support of the majority of Australians. And she will remain queen for as long as she wishes.

Remarkably, she even has the constitutional power to veto any decision made at referendum by the Australian people - including a decision to end all legal ties with the United Kingdom. Of course, by convention she would never exercise that power. But it shows that our nation’s constitution, or supreme law, is in a sense subordinate.

Elizabeth Windsor became the Queen of Australia (one of her myriad official titles) through a set of anachronistic British laws which, if enacted in Australia, would conflict starkly with our anti-discrimination acts.


And, in the absence of constitutional reform, our head of state will only ever be a Protestant.

Democracy demands that every Australian, of voting age, should be accorded the opportunity to elect - and to run for - Australia’s head of state. Democracy demands that merit prevail over heredity.

Do we really want as our representative to the world an unelected and largely absentee monarch? Someone who resides in a foreign land and has no fewer than 16 realms over which to reign?

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About the Author

Lyn Allison is a patron of the Peace Organisation of Australia and was leader of the Australian Democrats from 2004 to 2008.

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