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There’s a better way for our democracy, but it’s a hard road

Australian republic?

Our ancestors created a great nation from six colonies – can we take the next step and establish an Australian republic?

Gird your loins fellow voters, this is going to be a tough year at the office.

First cab off the rank is the NSW state election on Saturday, March 23 when Gladys Berejiklian will face the voters.

Five or six weeks later Prime Minister Scott Morrison will also have his hand out for a new mandate.

And in September 2020 we’ll be voting in new councils as well.

Surely there’s a better way.

States already have fixed four year terms, as do local councils, so why not have the same system for Canberra.

If we could be bold enough to also introduce electronic voting we could do it all in one Super Saturday every four years.

But we also have to decide if we continue with our compulsory system of voting or replace it with a voluntary system.

That would keep our political candidates busy trying to get people out to vote, so there’s a bonus right there.

While we’re at it, why don’t we fix Section 44.

That should be easy: only natïve born Australians should be eligible to sit in parliament either in the Senate or the House of Representatives or in state parliaments.

And then there’s the issue of Indigenous Australians; how to resolve this unhappy situation once and for all to everyone’s satisfaction.

Well, that’s where the republic comes in.

Fixing some of our democracy’s mechanical problems seems to me like a good reason to consider finally cutting off our ties with the British monarchy.

The Murray River town was one of the birthplaces of federation.

Corowa’s federation museum: The Murray River town was one of the birthplaces of federation.

If our Australian ancestors had the vision and the energy to turn six colonies into the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, surely we’re capable of a little bit of constitutional tweaking.

Back in the 1880s and 1890s when the push for federation was gathering pace they did not have the communication tools we enjoy today.

There was no radio or TV, certainly no internet or mobile phones or – heavens forbid – social media.

But what Henry Parkes, Edmund Barton and other federation proponents had was a vision of nationhood, a much larger dream than just switching from the  monarchy to republicanism, including Indigenous Australians in the constitution and introducing the 21st century to our electoral system.

In my recent travels I popped into Corowa, a small NSW town along the banks of the Murray River, touted as one of the birthplaces of federation.

It really is incredible to think that the Australians of 130 years ago managed such an incredible feat – the creation of a nation out of six British colonies.

Not only that, the support for federation when put to the vote was overwhelmingly in favour in all of the states.

It’s very doubtful we could do it today, given our current preoccupation with political correctness and identity politics.

But given time and some decent politicians I think we will eventually unite to support changes that will make us an even greater nation in the decades ahead.

 

 

 

 

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