Republican Ruminations from Down Under
Antony Taylor finds the roots of Australian republicanism stretching back into the 19th century
Since 1992 there has been major public disquiet about the position and role of the monarchy. In Britain controversy about the expense of the royal house, the marital status of the Queen's children, and the fitness of the Prince of Wales to assume the monarch's position as Head of the Church of England, have done serious damage to the standing of the throne.
Moreover the 1990s have been marked by the emergence of republican sentiments in Australia as well. In 1995 Labor Premier Paul Keating made reform of the Australian constitution an election issue and committed his party to a referendum on the monarchy by the end of the century. Earlier this year he called on Australians to mark the centenary of the formation of the Australian Federation in 2001 by voting for an Australian head of state.
In the Australian Parliament in June he appealed to the same spirit of national pride that impelled the former colonies to seek legislative autonomy from the empire and unite in a federation in 1901: