Senate debates

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Governor-General's Speech


7:13 pm

Photo of Tim StorerTim Storer (SA, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to speak to this motion. This motion asks the Senate to express our loyalty to our most gracious sovereign. As a passionate advocate for Australia becoming a republic, that section of the motion gives me pause for thought. It is the same pause I had when, on entering this chamber, I was required to swear an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her heirs and successors according to law. I accept that this motion follows well-established convention and, as such, will not be moving an amendment or opposing it. I will, however, take this opportunity to reflect on the disappointment I feel that in 2018 we do not make these statements to an Australian head of state.

As I noted in my first speech, it is ironic and telling that to be a member of this chamber you cannot hold British citizenship but you must be British to be our head of state. Why should we have lower standards for our head of state than we set for our parliamentarians? For me, a homegrown, Australian head of state is essential in a nation which defines itself as self-determining. It is the logical next step for us to take as a proud and independent nation. Our head of state should be a patriotic, democratic person who embodies service to our country and its people. Our head of state should be an Australian chosen by Australians, not a foreign monarch who inherits the job. It is fundamentally unfair, undemocratic and undignified for Australia's democracy to be subject to a foreign monarchy. I also believe it is an important step towards more meaningful reconciliation with our First Nations people. I have been actively involved in advocating an Australian republic for over a quarter of a century.

A highlight of my life, amongst others, was organising a republican referendum lunch, with speakers being former Prime Minister Whitlam and now former Prime Minister Turnbull. As we round on the 20-year anniversary of the 1999 referendum, it is time to once again put this important question to the Australian people. I believe, as does the Australian Republic Movement, that in 2020 Australians should be asked two simple questions in a national vote: 'Do you want Australia to have an Australian as our head of state?' and 'How do you want Australia's head of state to be chosen?' With these two questions answered, a referendum question should be prepared and put to the people in 2022. This would be a referendum to change our politics, to modernise our Constitution and to remove alien traditions of heredity and prejudice. It would be a vote to have an Australian as our head of state and to become an Australian republic. I hope in the future these replies made today will be made to an Australian head of state.

Question agreed to.


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