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“An Australian Republic: To be or not to be?”
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“An Australian Republic: To be or not to be?”

If Australia was ever tempted to shift to a republic and adopt a president as its head of state the public might quickly find that the costs of the constitutional changeover outweigh the benefits, argues Grant Duthie, 18, a Commonwealth Correspondent from the Gold Coast.

It was a rare occasion to see so many flock to catch a glimpse of the reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, on her recent visit to Australia, culminating with the opening of CHOGM in Perth.

Images of people in Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth lining the shores and streets induced a reflection on the relevance of the Australian republican movement.

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

Although I would not consider myself a staunch monarchist, I still retain what I regard to be a holistic understanding of Australia’s political position. 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. 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 follows a similar structure to her own function, primarily in assisting the work of charities and social supporting 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 attending 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 apolitical head of state position, selected based on their noteworthy and commendable life-long achievements, means 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 morale ahead of elections – and negligible promises.

There would also be a multitude of other costs to Australian society of moving to a republic, including changing the currency, designing a new flag and removing any insignia of the monarch – money that could be valuably invested into education, healthcare and saving lives.

In considering whether to move to a republic, I hope Australians register the valuable present benefits of the monarchy and look holistically into the future and what truly matters and reject 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!

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About me:

“My name’s Grant Duthie and I’m a high-school student on the Gold Coast of Australia. My favourite subject is geography, because it is so relevant and the focus is on conservation and sustainability, which are global issues affecting us all.

“Through my concern for the environment I have been lucky enough to have been given a number of opportunities to work with a number of organisations, such as Polar Bears International, and UN Youth Australia. In the future, I hope to work for the United Nations and make a thorough contribution to these causes.”

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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