Sharing Discussing Understanding

Commonwealth Journalists' Association

Queen Elizabeth II at CHOGM 2011 Opening Ceremony
Queen Elizabeth II at CHOGM 2011 Opening Ceremony

World leaders are in Perth on the west coast of Australia this week to take part in the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

As Queen Elizabeth II opens proceedings, Grant Duthie, 18, a Commonwealth Correspondent and aspiring journalist from the Gold Coast, examines the case against Australia dispatching  with the monarchy.

It’s a rare occasion to see so many flock to catch a glimpse of the reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, who is visiting Australia to open CHOGM in Perth. Images of people in Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth lining the shores and streets, induces a reflection on the relevance of the Australian republican movement.

While the concept of having a non-Australian head of state raises alarm bells for some, undoubtedly the Queen still endeavors to instill excitement, morale and a sense of community in our society.

Although I would not consider myself a staunch monarchist, I still retain a holistic understanding of Australia’s political positioning. In shifting to a republic, I feel that apart from the constitutional change of having an Australian (most probable) presidential head of state, little other benefits would trickle down. Similarly, much of my doubt about the change lies in the fact that a republic would be a dysfunctional model with a presidential candidate at the head.

Currently, Australia has a strong and vibrant political system that is kept in check through representatives of the Queen reigning in undeserving politicians. Much of the work of Queen Elizabeth’s representatives follow a similar structure to her own function, primarily in assisting the work of charities and social support networks.

Now some might argue that a publicly elected president could perform these duties effectively. But let’s not beat around the bush, the concept of being ‘publicly elected’ means that politicians do exactly that, only attend the functions that will ensure them the greatest amount of votes in the next election. More often than not, their constant exposure to the media leaves them in a frequently disreputable state with a vast portion of society against them.

A governor general forming the head of state position, selected based on noteworthy and commendable life-long achievements and who is apolitical would ensure that no one is left out. In performing the most heart-warming duties without the need to constantly campaign for their position, this representative ensures Australia remains a country that places community based spirit and morals ahead of elections and negligible promises.

Quite obviously moving to a republic would force a multitude of costs on Australian society, including the price of recycling the entire Australian currency, designing a new flag and removing any insignia of the monarch. This is money that could be valuably invested into education, healthcare and saving lives.

I hope Australian’s register the valuable benefits present, and look holistically into the future and what truly matters away from politicians who would revel in the delight of having the top job. Think once, think twice, because once it’s been written there’s no going back!