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Published: Fri, 02 Feb 2018

Should Australia Become A Republic

Both republicans and monarchists have marked their opportunity in their own way after defeated in the referendum on a republic in 1999. John Howard has invited to be the guest of honours at anniversary celebrations by the monarchists in Sydney while the Australian Republican Movement tried to rekindle Australian’s interest in supporting republican movement. But even the most ardent Republicans acknowledge the Queen and her successors will rule for years to Australia [1] .

Focus Question:

Should Australia become a republic?


This issue is related to our legal studies as it focuses on both of the function of the law and critical analysis of the constitutional system.

Australia is a constitutional monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II is the queen of Australia while the Governor-General of Australia is her representative. Appointment of the Governor-General is by Queen on the proposal of the prime Minister [2] . During the nineties, exceptional reasons have made by the republicans for becoming a republic [3] . Arguments which made by the republicans was focus on abolishing the Australian monarchy, as Australia is an independent country. They also argued that same person of head of the state should be removed as they cannot adequately represent Australia [4] .

In 6 November 1999, a referendum was held on whether they wanted Australia to become a republic or not. At the end, the referendum was rejected as failed to obtain a majority in any of the state. Neither of the questions was defeated with the vote result of 45 percent and 39 percent respectively.

Although the referendum was failed in 1999 but the prospect of an Australian republic remains very much alive. In December 2001, a meeting is held to discuss the practical suggestions about republican movement into the future process. Besides that, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja has provided consultation for voters and general election for the House of Representatives through a private senator’s bill on whether they should vote again for changing Australia into republic. [5] 

In support of republic


Supporters of the republic often argue that the movement into republic would evolve Australia’s democracy. They also stated that it’s not truly independent when there is only one head of the state. In addition, the decision power of selecting the Australia’s Head State is by another country of the world so they can’t even adequately represent Australia [6] . By the time, Frank Cassidy has stand up for the Republican and give out a speech for requesting President in future time. Moreover, the monarchy is already seen by many Australians as being outdated because of Australia’s multi-racial and multi-cultural society.

Economic Contribution

The movement towards republic from the constitutional monarchy does bring benefits to business and the economy [7] . As the competitive in international trade increase rapidly, similarly the way Australia position itself as a nation is important too. When the Queen travels overseas, she representing British while not the Australian’s interest. She seems to pay less attention to foreign policy interests of Australia and focus on Britain and its interest. It clearly show that the undemocratic nature of the monarchy in Australia. Just to be fair and square, the position of the Head of State should be open to every Australian child instead of reserving for the children of Queen Elizabeth and her heirs.

Inappropriate tradition

Republican also claimed that inappropriate traditions of the British monarchy which are inconsistent with Australian principles would be removed. The Australia cannot hold allegiance to any specific religion. This is consistent with section 116 of the Australia Constitution which prohibits the Commonwealth from making laws about the observance to any religion in government affairs [8] . In analyzing what section 116 meant two judges referred directly to the question of church and state. Justice Sir Ronald Wilson said:

The fact is that s.116 is a denial of legislative power to the Commonwealth and no more.. The provision therefore cannot answer the description of a law which guarantees within Australia the separation of church and state [9] .

The British Monarchy is the titular head of the Church of the England which is also inconsistent with the principles embedded in Australia’s multicultural policies.

Removal of crown

Dr Mark McKenna expressed the view that the sovereignty of the crown must be removed as it was related to the divestment of Indigenous people. Australia’s indigenous possession occurred gradually under the imprimatur of the crown since the colonization began in Australia in 1788. It shown that the right of the aboriginal people was not protected as their land has become crown land. Furthermore, the legitimacy of Aboriginal occupancy and ownership conflicted with the proclamations of Vancouver (1791), Lockyer (1826) and Fremantle (1829) which claimed ownership by the British Crown [10] .

Against of republic

Prevent changes for Australia’s flag

Australia’s flag may be changed if the referendum of republican in 1999 had been successful. As signify of movement from a constitutional monarchy to a republic, they will consider a change of flag certainly. As an ordinary Australian, they should be seen as support for the view; the Australia’s flag, our national anthem should not be change so the referendum 1999 had been defeated [11] .

Instability of Republicanism

Republicanism is not as stable as constitutional monarchy. Constitutional framework was adopted fairly with the majority vote in each of the colonies. In addition, the constitutional continual remain stability in the following ninety-three years since the creation of the Australian nation in 1901. Constitutional monarchy has experienced two world wars and economic slump pressure in 1930s and 1990s. It is clear that constitutional monarchy is better, more democratic, and more stable overall in both strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, the President in president term of office would protect their own goods by exercising their own power and in their own parties as well. On the other hand, the constitutional monarchies incline to be stable because political favoritisms will deprive the ultimate power [12] .

A republic will also cost financially and emotionally. It can be seem that lowest cost for each election of President costs $45 million in 1994. In addition, the estimated cost for the election of the President Cheryl Kernot is around $70 million campaign subsidies to all parties in parliament. Compare to the cost of appointing the Governor-General, the cost for election of President is much more expensive [13] . Besides that, a republic referendum is an expensive exercise that will cost well in excess of $50 million.

Besides, the president cannot simply assume the same roles as the Governor-General as a special relationship exists between a Governor-General and Crown. There is no guarantee that an elected President will honour the conventions of responsible government so rigidly observed by all past Governors-General [14] .

Changes in law and legal system

If Australia is changed into republic, the law and legal system of Australia would need to be modified as a result of a change to a republic – the committee concluded that consideration would have to be given to changes in the following areas:

Laws and practices relating to royal charters, the use of ’royal’ titles etc;

A replacement mechanism for filling offices presen;t filled by commissions from the Crown such as Defence Force officers and the police;

Transitional and consequential provisions to replace references in legislation to the Governor-General, Crown etc, at the Commonwealth and State level [15] .


I believe mostly of the Australians felt proud of their independent sovereign nation which can be proven from the result of the referendum of republic in 1999. Furthermore, the constitutional monarchy is working well in Australia and its stable so far until now. The republicans usually base their arguments on the need to have an Australian as head of the State. We already haven Australian as head of State so why risk change?

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