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Paul Keating Turns 70

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating turns 70 today.

Keating was 25 when he entered the House of Representatives as the Labor member for Blaxland in October 1969. He was 47 when he became Australia’s 24th prime minister in December 1991. He remained PM until March 1996 when he was defeated by John Howard’s coalition.


Keating’s first ministerial appointment came in the dying days of the Whitlam government. Following the sacking of Minerals and Energy minister Rex Connor, Keating became Minister for Northern Australia on October 21, 1975, serving for three weeks until the government was dismissed by the Governor-General on November 11. He is the youngest of the eleven surviving ministers of the Whitlam governments. [Read more…]

Governor-General Quentin Bryce Calls For A Republic And Same-Sex Marriage

The Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, has called for an Australian republic and same-sex marriage in the last of her Boyer Lectures, delivered just four months before she retires from the Vice-Regal role.


Bryce’s remarks came at the end of a speech titled “Advance Australia Fair”. She concluded by imagining a nation of care and equality, “where people are free to love and marry whom they choose and where, perhaps, my friends, one day, one young girl or boy may even grow up to be our nation’s first head of state”. [Read more…]

Bodyline, The Economy And A Republic: Wayne Swan Joins The Dots

The Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has released an Australia Day article that draws a series of connections between the 1930s Bodyline cricket series, the contemporary economy and a future republic.

SwanSwan remembers Bodyline as typifying Australian resistance to English imperial superiority. He sees Australia defending “fair play” and playing “within both the letter and the spirit of the rules”. Australia’s code, says Swan, is “not a gentleman’s code” but “a democratic code”.

Linking Bodyline with the 1930s Depression, Swan says “Australians didn’t cause that Depression and to a very great extent we were powerless to tackle it..because we lacked full economic sovereignty”.

Swan says Bodyline and the Great Depression “helped awaken a democratic and egalitarian assertion of Australian national sovereignty that still serves us well on Australia Day 2013.”

Despite the fact that the Rudd and Gillard governments have done nothing over the past five years to promote constitutional change, Swan says reflection on Bodyline and the Depression “will eventually” have the legacy of “hastening the approach of an Australian republic”.

Swan’s argument is similar in style to his musings last year on Bruce Springsteen’s opposition to economic privilege. In his John Button Oration, Swan sought to emphasise democratic and egalitarian values at the heart of the Labor government’s value system.

Swan’s article today is an attempt to add to the over-arching story the government has been developing as the federal election draws near.

Text of an article released by the Treasurer, Wayne Swan.

Forged in Fair Play – 80 Years on From Bodyline

It has been another eventful Australian summer, marked by bushfires that have once again tested some of our nation’s most important values: our capacity to stick together in a crisis, help out those who need help, display coolness, competence and courage under pressure.

In a time of transition, with our nation on the cusp of the Asian Century, our values are the most treasured commodities we possess, ones which will always endure. So as we celebrate this Australia Day, it is worth reflecting on the origins and nature of Australia’s national values.

There’s no one source of our national character. It comes from our indigenous heritage, from the struggles of the convicts and early settlers, the Federation period with its conflicts and mateship, and of course our nation’s experiences on the battlefields of war. [Read more…]

Victoria Becomes a NO State – Referendum Fails In All 6 States

Counting of postal and absentee votes has seen Victoria fall from a narrow YES vote to No in the republic referendum conducted last Saturday.

All States and Territories have recorded a drop in support as postal and absentees have been counted, confirming a long tradition of such votes tending to the conservative or No side of the political debate.

As a result of Saturday’s two polls, Australia has now experienced 44 referendums since Federation, of which only 8 have been passed – a success rate of 18%.

Republic Referendum Results
Updated 10/11/99
State YES % NO %
New South Wales
Western Australia
South Australia
Australian Capital Territory
Northern Territory

Historic Opportunity: An Australian Republic?

The Weekend Australian, 6-11-99Overnight, the British government has continued the process of abolishing hereditary peers in the House of Lords. In Australia, a historic referendum is taking place today in which voters have the choice of removing links with the hereditary monarch of Great Britain.

Opinion polls suggest that the referendum is heading for defeat. The AC Nielsen AgePoll yesterday had the YES vote at 41%, NO at 47%, and 12% undecided. A Newspoll published in The Australian today has the YES vote at 47%, NO on 50% and 3% undecided. The poll also shows the Preamble question facing defeat. The Australian boldly calls on its readers to vote YES.

If the referendum passes Australia will become a republic on January 1, 2001. If it is defeated tonight, consider the words of playwright David Williamson, in his article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

Tonight the politician haters are going to have their moment, and the monarchists are going to hold the line against the dilution of the master race. And those of us who would like to see ourselves as a nation mature enough to have our own head of state are going to feel ashamed and wonder whether there’s any point to waiting up to see Australia play France.

We had a chance to really make it Australia playing France, but I suspect it will still be the Queen of England’s Australia playing a real nation called France. Could any of us imagine a France so insecure about its own worth and identity that it had a German head of state? And, if it did, wouldn’t we feel it was somehow a little pathetic? Despite the brave braying of John Howard that we are in all respects a nation to be respected, I think the truth is that we are going to look more than a little pathetic in the eyes of the world tomorrow morning.

The Speech That Started It All

Paul KeatingIn June 1995, the then Prime Minister, Paul Keating, rose in the House of Representatives to deliver a speech titled “An Australian Republic – The Way Forward.” The speech committed the then-Labor government to the establishment of an Australian republic by the centenary of Federation in 2001.

Whilst defeated in the general election 9 months later, Keating laid the foundations for the referendum that takes place today. His government’s policy position in 1995 forced the resurrected leader of the Liberal Party, John Howard, to offer a constitutional convention and a referendum, as a means of defusing the republic issue in the election campaign.

John Howard’s 2UE Radio Interview with John Laws

This is the text of Prime Minister John Howard’s interview with John Laws on radio 2UE.

Howard discusses the referendum on an Australian republic at some length and outlines the reasons for his opposition.

Transcript of John Howard’s interview with John Laws on radio 2UE.


Prime Minister good morning and welcome.


Good morning John. Good to be on your program.


Thank you. That’s nice of you. Has this whole debate helped shape the succession of the Liberal Party leadership? [Read more…]

John Howard’s Speech to the NSW State Convention of the Liberal Party

This is the text of Prime Minister John Howard’s speech to the NSW Convention of the Liberal Party.

Text of John Howard’s speech to the NSW Convention of the Liberal Party.

John HowardThank you very much Michael for those very warm words of introduction. To Shane Stone the Federal President, Kerry Chikarovski, the Leader of the New South Wales Opposition, to my many ministerial and parliamentary colleagues and most importantly of all my fellow members of the New South Wales Division of the Liberal Party.

Not surprisingly I would like to share with you this morning some thoughts on the past year and also some ideas about the year ahead at a national political level. But I would like to start my remarks this morning by addressing an issue that is very important to the future strength and survival of the New South Wales Division.

I want to congratulate the Executive of the party here in New South Wales for the decision it took last night to establish a committee of management to run the affairs of this party in the months ahead. [Read more…]

Howard and Costello in Conflict as Republic Referendum Hots Up

The battle between monarchists and republicans has taken a new turn as Howard government ministers adopt increasingly belligerent positions for and against the referendum due on November 6.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, issued a major statement to his Bennelong constituents earlier this week outlining his arguments against a republic.

This was followed by a speech from Treasurer Peter Costello that rebutted Howard’s argument point by point. [Read more…]

Howard: Response To Keating’s Republic Proposal

This is Federal Opposition Leader John Howard’s response to Paul Keating’s proposal for an Australian republic by the year 2001.

Broadcast on national television, the speech was in response to the previous day’s announcement by the Prime Minister, Paul Keating, that the government planned to move Australia towards becoming a republic.

Text of John Howard’s speech to the House of Representatives.

John HowardMr Speaker, the opposition welcomes the statement made last night by the Prime Minister (Mr Keating) about the government’s proposals to put a referendum to the Australian people inviting them to create a federal republic by the year 2001. The outlining of the government’s proposals, in a sense, ends the phoney war stage of the debate about Australia’s constitutional future and presents to the Australian people the option and the model desired by the government.

I want to say first, on behalf of the coalition, that this is an important debate. Although the question of the constitutional structure of Australia is not something that weighs heavily upon Australians as they go about their daily lives, although the question of whether or not Australia becomes a republic will have no bearing on our standard of living and our capacity to economically penetrate the fast growing Asia-Pacific region, nonetheless, the constitutional future of our nation is a matter of great importance. I believe it should be treated in an important, sober and, to the maximum extent possible, non-political fashion. [Read more…]

Keating: An Australian Republic – The Way Forward

by Paul Keating, Prime Minister of Australia

This is the text of Prime Minister Paul Keating’s address to the House of Representatives, announcing the government’s commitment to the establishment of an Australian federal republic by 2001.

Listen to Keating’s Speech (30m – transcript below)

Watch Keating (30m):

Listen to John Howard’s comments on the announcement:


The Australian, Thursday, June 8, 1995

Transcript of Paul Keating’s Republic speech in the House of Representatives, June 7, 1995.

It is the Government’s view that Australia’s Head of State should be an Australian and that Australia should become a republic by the year 2001. Tonight I shall describe the means by which we believe this ought to be done. [Read more…]