Guest post: Developments for an Australian republic

A guest post by Mike Wilkinson, former Executive member, New Zealand Republic

Many would have missed a small bit of news in Australia last week. The Australian Republican Movement announced a new model for how a republic would work. Much more water needs to pass under the bridge before it has any real influence here. Yet, proponents of a republic in New Zealand should take heart.

The new model, the Australian Choice, is summarised on ARM’s website. It would allow governments in each State and Territory to nominate one candidate to be Head of State. The Federal Parliament could nominate up to three. A national election would then decide which candidate becomes Head of State.

ARM’s model is designed to overcome problems shown by a republican referendum held in 1999. That vote considered a system where a Head of State was chosen by a two-thirds vote of Parliament. Opponents successfully painted this as a “politicians’ republic” – many voters preferred that they choose the Head of State in an election. The result of the referendum was 55% against – Australians chose to stay with the monarchy.

ARM has tried to build consensus on the Australian Choice – it was the outcome of a 2-year consultation. Yet, ARM’s opponents point to the 20 years since the referendum, asking why has ARM taken all that time? Consensus is difficult because even now, the issue still divides those who want a republic. Some such as Liberal MP Jason Falinski welcome the new model warmly. Others like former PM Paul Keating, staunchly criticise it – they say only Parliament should choose the Head of State. Keating says he would even prefer keeping the monarchy to ARM’s model. 

ARM believes 73% of Australians would vote for a republic if the Australian Choice Model was put to a referendum. Yet, much water needs to pass under the bridge before that happens. Will ARM convince enough supporters to back its new model at the ballot box? Or will its opponents once again succeed dividing those supporters, by say calling the model as a politicians’ republic again? Time will tell. Still, New Zealanders who support a republic should even now applaud ARM’s work. We can hope it leads to further steps in Australia that help republicanism in New Zealand.

Comments (69)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment