1 February 2021

I’m a member of the Australian Republic Movement, but I agree wholeheartedly with Osmond Chiu: “There have been suggestions that becoming a republic might act as a circuit breaker, enabling us to have a new, more inclusive national day, free of the legacy of invasion and colonisation. While well-meaning, it misjudges the vision of an Australian republic that has been sold to the wider public, a vision that I increasingly do not agree with. The one-word change to the national anthem only emphasises the importance of avoiding empty symbolic changes. I support Australia becoming a republic because a monarchy, even a constitutional one, runs counter to basic principles of equality and democracy. And yet I feel fundamentally ambivalent about the push for an Australian republic. … [U]nless it is a transformative project, a republic will only represent a domestic status quo that does not reflect who we truly are. … To me, the appeal of having an Australian head of state has little resonance if not much else changes. Replacing a hereditary British aristocrat with an elected affluent barrister from a private school, a military officer or a former government minister does not better reflect the diversity or breadth of Australia. Instead, it merely reflects our existing hierarchies, and provides equality of opportunity for our own domestic elites to become the head of state. … A republic, let alone a new national day, without prior truth-telling, a Voice and a treaty with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders will be empty and hollow from its inception.”