The Republican army is on the move. Next Wednesday marks the start of the
Australian Republican Movement’s catchy new campaign, “A mate for a head of
state” and there are assorted events around the country to celebrate the fresh
vision to overthrow the Monarchy.

The organisers are declaring 22 January, the Sunday before Australia
Day, “A Mate for Head of State Day” and are asking folk to wear gold ribbons, “and
celebrate in ways of their own choosing the great nation that Australia has
become – while also considering that no Australian can be Australia’s Head of
State while our nation remains a constitutional monarchy.”

Who needs well thought out ideas when you’ve got snappy slogans like “a mate
for head of state”? The idea, apparently, is to strike a chord with “ordinary
Australians.” Of course, it’s always a good idea to oversimplify everything,
because the world is a scarily complex place, and difficult issues need to be
explained with winning ideas like “terrorists are trying to destroy our way of
life.”

But hasn’t the mateship thing been done to death already? The PM’s
bowdlerised the term with his own concept of mateship tied together with
references to the Anzacs.

The Republicans are piggybacking off a Howard vision that seems to exclude
women, for a start. And heaven forbid we should consider having a woman as our
head of state – she might be 50, and unmarried with no children, and then where would we all be?

The Republican movement should come to terms with this fact: their dreams are
never going to come true on Howard’s watch – so their energy would be much
better used trying to get a Labor government elected.

Peter Fray

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