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It's Time For Victoria To Lead A Victorious Charge Towards An Australian Republic

Merit should make a leader, not bloodline.

28/07/2017 11:23 AM AEST | Updated 28/07/2017 11:26 AM AEST
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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA -- JANUARY 26, 2017: A protestor waves the Australian Flag with the Union Jack removed during a protest, organised by Aboriginal rights activists on Australia Day.

It's been more than 20 years since Paul Keating so forthrightly informed Queen Elizabeth that it was time for an Australian Republic. It is time for us to rediscover that temerity, to stand on our own two feet and make this country our own.

Victoria has a long, proud history of leading the rest of Australia on important reform. We led the birth of Australian democracy at the Eureka Stockade. We led the way on the eight-hour day and the minimum wage. We led the anti-conscription effort in World War One. We are leading the way on establishing a treaty with Aboriginal communities.

And in 1999, Victoria led the nation as the state with the highest 'yes' vote in favour of a republic.

It's time once again for Victoria to do the heavy lifting. To lead the country forward, to whet the appetite of Australians and work up a national hunger to get this done, once and for all.

The monarchy represents much of what we would hold to be 'un-Australian' -- entitlement, class superiority, and impunity.

There are actions we can take to show Australia that it's not that hard. Change the Victorian constitution to remove all references to the monarchy. Remove the symbols of the Crown and Union Jack from our flag and other regalia. Modernise our parliament's archaic rituals.

Better still, we could lead the charge by democratically appointing the head of our government. It doesn't take a referendum for Victoria to get this done.

The Queen and her appointed on-the-ground representatives have little to do with the day-to-day lives of Australians, this is true. But symbols are important. Words mean things. Being the head of our government should not be a hereditary privilege, conferred on the title holder by the divine right of kings; a leader whom only God can judge.

Our head of state should reflect democratic representation, not coronation. The monarchy represents much of what we would hold to be 'un-Australian' -- entitlement, class superiority, and impunity.

We need to be able to say to our children that it is your merits that make you a leader, not your bloodline. I can't say that while our sovereignty resides in the House of Windsor.

There is a mood for change. Australia was founded on stolen land. Inequality is at a 75 year high. Power and influence is increasingly falling into the laps of an elite, wealthy few. We haven't righted our wrongs and increasingly our country feels like it is fraying at the edges and cracking in the middle.

We need unity and a strong vision of collectiveness more than ever. A reimagining of our country's direction and what it means to be Australian. Leadership is needed -- in both name and practice. What better place to start than with Victoria leading the way in making our country wholly our own.

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The Australian Republican Movement is making great gains in putting this on the national agenda, but no move has been made in Canberra to attempt the vote again. For the first time ever, the Prime Minister, Opposition Leader and all eight state and territory leaders have publicly declared their position in favour of a Republic. The time is now.

We need practical action to show Australia that this is a change that can be won and done.

Growing up is never easy, but we have to decide who we aspire to be as a nation. I believe it is one that is inclusive, that values the fair go, and that is built on solidarity and shared experience. Victoria has clearly shown that these values are what drive our state, we need to make an example of ourselves and shepherd the country out of its adolescence and into adulthood.

We respect you, Your Majesty, just not what you represent. Only a weak nation sits idly waiting for its future to arrive, and we are not a weak nation.

In the true spirit of Eureka, it's time for Victorians to show our strength and steer Australia into the next phase of its democracy.

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