Republic of Australia

Other countries fight for their independence. We could just have ours, writes Catherine Deveny.

EVEN if the Australian flag had a picture of a bloke called Davo chucking a brown-eye on it or the image of a pav whipped up by Aunty Bev, I don’t imagine that I could ever be a flag waver. But at least if our country’s flag did have these pictures, I’d be able to look at it and not feel like a 40-year-old still living at home with my parents.

Still being part of “The Empire” feels exactly like that. Like we are living at home with our parents. Despite attempting to delude ourselves that we are “world class”, a “global leader”, or “part of the axis of evil” – sorry, meant to write “member of the coalition of the willing” – we are a dole-bludging bong-head living out the back of our parents’ place. (No offence to dole-bludging bong-heads living out the back of their parents’ place.)

Even Prince Charles thinks that it’s time we flew the coop. He’s gone down to the bungalow, stormed in and said: “Are you still here? One thought one got one’s arse into gear ages ago. One might consider pulling one’s finger out and getting one’s own life.”

And what have we done? Sat there in our tracky-dacks and boxing kangaroo singlet, handed the spliff to our mate Knackers, picked up the PlayStation controller and said: “Can’t be stuffed, mate.”

Because we tried once. Didn’t work out. So we just continue self-medicating with a couple of she’ll be rights and a lie down every arvo. “‘Cause if it ain’t broke mate . . .” But it is. Australia is broke because it’s never been fixed. It’s never been assembled. It’s still in the flat pack with the allen key.

Are the English going to have to chuck us out first? Are we that laid back? $100 says that England’s going to be a republic before us. “Sorry chaps, we are selling the family home and buying a campervan. To use your own term, ‘you’re rooted.’ ”

How embarrassing is it that we aren’t a republic? I cringe when I meet folks from abroad and they realise that we are still part of the Commonwealth. I shrink when they ask why we have England’s Queen on our coins, only for me to tell them that she’s our Queen too. They’re flabbergasted.

I have often wondered why the Queen can have the top job in Australia despite the fact that it defies our equal opportunity laws. “Yes, we proudly enforce our meritocracy and rules of equality . . . apart from the boss lady because that’s different.”

So much for common wealth. The Queen’s fortune was recently conservatively estimated to be about $US500 million ($A590 million) by Forbes magazine. Some suggest that it’s closer to $US10 billion. Would it kill her to spread it round a bit?

I hate to admit it, but a recent trip to America had me envious of their flag. A flag they chose and were not allocated. They talk of their founding fathers, their War of Independence and their coming of age. They made a decision. And they fought for it. East Timor has self-determination and we do not. What a scathing example of our apathy that is. How easy it would be for us. And how difficult it was for them.

Let me simplify this for you. We have a referendum. The question is: Do you want us to be a republic? Tick the box. A. YES. B. NO. C. LET ME ASK MY HUSBAND.

Keep the Westminster system. Personally, I’d be happy with a benevolent socialist dictatorship, but that’s what happens when you have a columnist from the People’s Republic of Moreland.

As far as a president is concerned, I don’t give a rat’s about the process. The president could be Tony Mokbel’s rug for all I care, just so long as we are a republic. And why do we need to call our head of state the president? How about something more Australian. Like “the Big Whoop”. “Please Stand for the Big Whoop of the Republic Of Australia. Shane Keith Warne . . .”

What do we do about the Commonwealth Games? We change the name to the Piss-Weak Countries Who Have Bugger-all Chance of Winning at the Olympic Games. All those royal hospitals, royal societies, with your royal this and royal that? Change the word from “Royal” to “Bonzer”, “Ripper” or “Beaut”.

Being a republic will make a monumental difference to Australia. We will stop looking to other countries and look at ourselves. Our confidence will blossom, our dynamism will flourish and our imagination will run wild. Our originality will leave other countries thinking: “If they can do that, maybe so can we.” And it will affect our daily lives.

It will break my heart if I don’t die in the Republic of Australia.



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