General Overview of the Republic Debate

Essay by CrabholeJunior High, 7th gradeA-, July 2004

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Our present constitution reflects Australia's status as a self-governing colony within the British Empire. The constitution links us to the British parliament as a British Governor General (appointed by the Queen to represent herself in Australia) is our head of state and he has specific executive and reserve powers.

After the Imperial Conference of 1926, our autonomy in internal and external affairs has been acknowledged and the Governor General has in effect abandoned these powers (choosing to act on the advice of the Prime Minister) and adopted a largely ceremonial role.

The idea of making Australia into a republic began as early as 1850, when people like John D. Lang and Charles Harpur, followed by Louisa and Henry Lawson, the Bulletin and the Australian Republican Union advocated the notion. Throughout the two world wars, Australia stuck close by Britain and republicans were seen as 'disloyal'. But after WW2, with multiculturalism and the growth of a national identity, Australia began to seek greater independence and her own place in the Asia Pacific.

The Dismissal of 1975 highlighted the downfalls of a constitutional monarchy and revived support for a republican Australia.

By the 1990s, republicanism became a great issue. Pro and anti republican groups like the ARM and ACM formed to attract support for their cause. Official action was taken to investigate the constitutional changes of making Australia into a republic in the report: An Australia Republic. A Constitutional Convention was formed in 1996 to consider issue like whether Australia should become a republic and what model would our republic take after. After ascertaining support and deciding on the bipartisan model, the republicanism question was put towards Australian voters as a referendum.

In the Australian republic, all those who hold office gain their authority through the direct or indirect approval of...