What we stand for
Republic Now! grew out a series of lectures presented by the Convenor, Klaas Woldring to groups of adult education students at the Workers Education Association in Sydney, Australia. Later Republic Now! Group participated in a Forum known as Republican Gatherings which was created in 2003, initiated by the Australian Republican Movement, with a view to bringing together several pro-Republic Groups. Five annual week-end meetings were held in different cities, Canberra (twice), Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Both representatives of groups, around 10 and several interested individuals came together to exchange views and discuss strategies to achieve the Australian Republic. The position taken by Republic Now! may be broadly described as a Maximalist approach which regards the Head of State issue as merely a first step. We realise fully that there are many other and more important issues to be resolved and we believe that these should be identified and incorporated in a strategic plan to be carried out as soon as a Republic has been established. We believe that stalling on the Republic serves no purpose at all and frustrates further reforms. The realisation of a Republic is long overdue but the debate was manipulated by the politicians, notably by the Howard government in the late 1990s, as a result of which the Referendum in 1999 failed to get sufficient support. There is no doubt in our mind that a Referendum on a model that includes the option of a popularly elected President, with symbolic powers, will be supported by a large majority of Australians. Recent opinion polls certainly indicate that and it may well one reason why the current federal government has postponed the Republic issue to the next Parliament.
Republic Now! is a PRO REPUBLIC Group! It is not an ANTI MONARCHY Group. The constitutional monarchies in Europe, e.g. the U. K., Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain enjoy considerable popular support in most cases. They have grown historically and, as they are constitutional, these monarchies do not have a great deal of political power at all. But they do have significant symbolic power. One could argue that they have become more or less like permanent symbolic Presidencies of a Republic. However, the royals in Europe are living among their citizens, are in close contact with them, and are seen regularly at major public events and functions. That is not the case at all in Australia. The House of Windsor is now very remote from Australian society and the Australian Government's decision making structures and processes. This is a huge and real difference and, therefore, a Republic IS the logical form of state for Australia. It is not only high time to sever the umbilical cord but, even more, for Australia to actually assert its independence internationally. The most important issue really is "What kind of Republic?" should Australians aim at?
Republic Now! is committed to:
- The creation of an independent Australian Republic with a directly elected President who shall have symbolic functions and powers, without any further delay.
- Governance changes resulting in the replacement of federation by a two level structure of governance: national and local, with regional administrations indirectly elected forming a third mezzanine level.
- Governance change aimed at decentralising Australia, decongesting the metropolitan cities and providing excellent regional opportunities.
- Replacing the dominant single-member electoral district system with proportional representation - open party list system, a simple, inexpensive democratic system. This would result in a reversal of the concentration of executive power in two major parties.
- Introducing the "Separation of Powers" principle in Governance. This means that the executive, legislature and judiciary shall be strictly separate as is the case in all parliamentary systems of Governance with the exception of the Westminster system.
- Developing a new Constitution for Australia within five years. To that end a New Constitution Council of ten persons will be established of whom no more than four will be constitutional lawyers.
- This New Constitution Council will also draw up a Strategic Plan for a process of plebiscites and constitutional referendums to achieve constitutional change. Such a staged process should involve constitutional conventions of citizens deliberating about specific aspects of constitutional change. The use of preparatory (non-binding) plebiscites is seen as vital for the successful carriage of subsequent referendums.
Republic Now! is not connected with any political party. However, we encourage political parties and Independent MPs and candidates to adopt our limited platform. If adopted, as stated above, we would appreciate acknowledgement in their campaigns. It is conceivable that an Alliance for Governance Reform, comprising minor registered or non-registered parties, Independent MPs and Independent candidates as well as pro-Republic Associations, emerges out of such acknowledgements. The acceptance of major electoral reforms, as suggested above, is clearly of vital interest to smaller parties and Independents if they want to increase their chances of being elected. While not widely understood this is in fact the key to developing a quite different political culture in Australia. Nevertheless, while Republic Now! should first grow as a movement, the membership may decide at a later stage to create a political party as well. However, at this stage, particularly given the existing electoral system, it would seem to be a waste of resources and energy to aim for that now.
Republics and their Presidents.
The FREE course has started! 11th February, 2010
In the first part 16 modern republics and their Presidents will be briefly described, three or four per week over a period of five to six weeks. After that 15 examples of the separation between the political executive and the legislature - including constitutional monarchies - will be presented. Please go to the Menu item Republics and their Presidents. In the first week we describe the situation in Ireland, Finland and Portugal. The course is preceded by an introduction about the history of Republics of around 10,000 words. As this is too long for a website we invite the reader to contact the Convenor of Republic Now! It can be sent separately if you are interested.
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"BLOG: Republic and related issues" page
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