As royal fever sweeps the country, Levon Rush looks at Australia’s status as a constitutional monarchy.
Australia should not become a republic for a few simple reasons: the current system works, it would be expensive to do, and our links to the monarchy are an important part of our country’s identity.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
Australia’s system of government, constitution and set of laws are revered by the rest of the world. Throughout our country’s short existence, Australia’s stability as a nation – during what has arguably been the most testing centuries in world history – has been envied by the entire world. In fact, Australia is one of the six oldest democracies in the world. Five of these are constitutional monarchies and four of them have Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state. If that doesn’t show it works for us, I don’t know what does.
It would cost quite a few dollaridoos
Have you ever stopped to wonder how many things would have to change to create a republic? It’s not like people would do them as a laugh. Australia would have to fork out an exorbitant amount of money for something that would not make our lives any better.
Let’s start with the constitution: this is the backbone of how the country is run. To rewrite it would be a massive job undertaken by solicitors, and if you’ve ever had to deal with one of them before you’d know all too well they charge in ten-minute increments. Getting you off that speeding ticket is expensive enough, imagine rebuilding a country… and it wouldn’t stop there. Everything that refers to the monarchy would change, from our money, to the defence forces, parliament, and anything that has a crown on it. That’s an awful lot for the poor old taxpayer to take on.
The Australian identity crisis
All too often I hear republicans say things along the lines of “it’s time for Australia to grow up” or “why should Australia be ruled by a queen in another country?”, both of which are incredibly naive statements. The crown hasn’t influenced Australian politics in decades. In fact, since 1986 with the signing in of the Australia Act, the possibility for the United Kingdom to:
- legislate with effect in Australia;
- to be involved in Australian government; and
- for an appeal from any Australian court to be taken to a British court have been totally eliminated.
So, Australia has, in fact, ‘grown up’ – we did so when we federated in 1901. We have made a name for ourselves a number of times throughout history, by fighting valiantly ‘for King and Country’ through two world wars, as well as by being a world leader in diplomacy, science and innovation, sports and in many of our other endeavours.
We’ve ‘moved out of home’ and been left completely to our own devices since the Australia Act was signed in 1986. So, what could the republican movement be likened to? Perhaps disowning your mother would be a good one.
Of course, there are plenty more reasons why we should remain a constitutional monarchy, like ‘why miss out on the ego boost that is Commonwealth Games?’, or ‘who’d want John Howard’s eyebrows or Tony Abbott’s swimmers on the back of our coins?’, but I think these three are probably the main three.
Read Matthew Hatton’s response to this piece here.