Republics are struggling. Yet Australia is still at risk of becoming one.
An Australian republic – in any form – offers no match for the stability, quality of life and economic opportunity that generations of Australians have experienced and now expect.
Since 1901, we have been part of only a handful of nations – one in ten – that have been continuously democratic.
Our Governors-General have sat above the noise of our Westminster politics – providing a sparing but powerful level of oversight and stability. In a century, reserve powers have only been used once by the Governor-General – in November 1975.
Our institutional connection to the Commonwealth fosters good relations with other diverse nations, keeping us in the orbit of an impressive 54 states and 2.4 billion people.
Yet republican lobbyists overlook these achievements and remain committed to the notion of an 'Australian President' along with a fascination for other systems of government.
They suggest we look to Ireland, and even Germany, as political systems that we should replicate.
We must “do it like Ireland” according to one senior republican lobbyist, not just in our federal model of government but in campaigning for change.
But what is there to envy?
Recently Ireland, for example, failed to feature in a global rankings survey, alongside Angola, Iraq and Tanzania, for not meeting the required economic or human development benchmarking criteria.
Supporting our current arrangements isn’t about criticising other nations. Indeed, every nation is unique. It brings its own history and culture to its own affairs.
But the lesson is clear – modern constitutional monarchies like ours tend to do well. Republics do not.
Here is something to consider.
- In Ireland the President (generally a politician) is subject to the wishes of the prime minister.
- Germany’s Weimar Republic – chosen in 1918 instead of a monarchy – succumbed very easily to fascism.
- Republican France is on its fifth system of government since abolishing its monarchy in 1772.
- Republics from Africa to South America rank consistently as ‘fragile states’, rocked by instability, and without the balance that careful constitutional monarchies can provide.
An Australian republic clearly does not offer fascism or dictatorship. But a republic does offer instability – something that we have done so well to avoid.
Australians should be proud. We are a united, stable and tolerant nation. And our constitutional monarchy – not a future republic – will ensure our stability, underpinning our quality of life and continuing opportunities for all Australians.
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