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Australian Independence

Australians Weigh In On Ties to British

Does Australia want to dump the British queen as head of state and replace her with a president? A Senate committee began a round of town hall meetings Tuesday to gauge public support for the idea.

Activists who want to change Australia from a constitutional monarchy to a republic have been lying low since 1999 when a referendum soundly rejected the idea.

... At Tuesday's meeting in a blue collar suburb in Sydney, the monarchists' argument was simple: The system isn't broken, so why fix it?

"We are concerned about the amount of money involved to pay for a change we don't see any point in," said David Flint. "Our people believe Australia should stay as it is, it works well."

Whether it be rational or just an effect of being raised on stories of the righteous revolution against King George, I have an undeniable sympathy for the republican cause. However, I can largely agree with the monarchist argument as presented in the article -- Britain's rule is so ceremonial that, particularly if the Westminster system stays in place, the republican movement is expending a lot of energy on a trivial matter. I can understand the desire to make the transition as palatable and smooth as possible by not rocking the boat, but perhaps they'd get more bang for their buck by introducing additional reforms -- like a bill of rights, separating the executive and legislative branches, or scrapping mandatory voting* -- along with the transition to full independence.

Nevertheless, if the monarchists' argument is merely "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," it seems that that attitude ought to lead to apathy, not organized opposition to the republicans. Such was the case for me when Colgate had its big controversy over introducing the Honor Code, which -- despite the hysterical claims of its supporters and detractors in The Maroon-News -- changed almost nothing. It seems unlikely, given the trend of public opinion, that a concerted monarchist effort could squash the republican movement quickly enough to save more total effort and expense that way than would be saved by acquiescing to the change.

*This list is perhaps more evidence of my being socialized into thinking the American way makes the most sense.


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