This week’s SPEAKER’S CORNER is by year 12 student JOEL VAN BOXTEL, who is calling on the government to consult with young people the next time it considers Australia becoming a republic. Is Joel an emerging leader to shake up the dormant Australian republican movement?
ALL Australians should have a say in who becomes our head of state.
Furthermore, this right should not be limited to only those of voting age.
Instead, every young person in this commonwealth should be able to dream of that role being within their reach, and it must be shaped to suit their future interests, rather than the current interests of an elite few.
The inevitable changes from the impending loss of the monarchy in the United Kingdom are for my future, and the future of the young.
In a republic, some have argued that the head of state should only function as a figure head with ceremonial functions and duties.
With this constitutional measure, conventions can be altered and removed or ignored.
If Australia is to move forward we have no time to lose in such constitutional reform.
With our rule of law and our separation of powers, what purpose does a theocratic monarch—from a nation that has not even separated its church and state—have in our secular federation of states and territories?
The privileged bubble of Elizabeth II’s monarchy has no real function in her own nation; let alone ours.
Although the UK has no written constitution, no secular protection of its citizens from a fusion of church and state, and although there are a number of unfair ways that people are appointed—such as the rule that a certain quota of the House of Lords must be senior anglican bishops who are generally older white men—even the common law of the UK prevents the Queen or any member of the royal family interfering IN politics.
However, the Queen’s role as the head of state of Australia, delegated to her governors general through the Australian constitution, creates various powers above the people, rather than through them. This is anathema to our Australian way of life.
In today’s age, the Queen is a figurehead. And yet, she has exclusive powers in matters that call for experience and qualification, rather than authority resting in a questionable bloodline of power.
This bloodline represents a postcolonial control over our national discourse and identity which infects our politics.
The current yet dated head of state model, is managed by the political parties of the day which allow for conflicts of interests such as the constitutional Crisis of 1975.
The Queen is overreaching with her powers, when she appoints a powerful figurehead such as governor general.
Ruling the people rather than serving the people, is outrageous in an enlightened world shaped by the great republics of our allies.
In a republic the head of state is elected by members of the public and is sworn in.
However, one person alone is easily corruptible, so why not have a complete panel, much like the high court of Australia?
This ruling group of elected citizens will hold each other to account and we will have a broader representation within the head of state—with women, Aboriginal and Islander people, and people from all walks of life.
The question inevitably arises: Will young people be able to vote on this major issue and what age requirements shall the government impose when we go to a referendum?
The objective truth is that young people matter, regardless of the fact that governments constantly ignore us in their policies. Young people should be allowed to vote. The other side of the argument is that having a cut-off at 18 would ensure a quality decision has been made.
If age determined quality, why is our government becoming increasingly dysfunctional?
The prime minister of the day would benefit from a debate with young people and a council taken from the community regarding on how the head of state should be appointed.
With every new generation comes new social and economic challenges, and new governments are elected to serve the people in each given time.
A government that does not adhere to the will of the people is ineffective, in this regard. The republic is perhaps the final step of Australian independence.
It is certainly a grand move away from the postcolonial era, and a fatal dependency on the post-Brexit economy of a long deposed British empire.