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Aussies urged to speak up on what they would like to see as their head of state

24 January 2012

A Deakin University Professor has called on Australians, particularly young Australians and those living in rural areas, to say what they would like to see as a Head of State now and in the future?

"It is over a decade since Australians were asked to vote on the republic but the question was cleverly confused by the then Prime Minister, John Howard, who deflected the question from not if we wanted a republic, which most still said 'yes' to, but whether we wanted a republican head of state to be chosen by parliament," said workshop organiser and Director of the University's Centre for Citizenship, Development and Human Rights, Professor Damien Kingsbury.

"This workshop on Saturday, February 4, will explore what we want from our head of state," Professor Kingsbury said, and how we want them to be chosen."

The Lord Mayor of Melbourne Robert Doyle will open the workshop while Senator Lisa Singh will give the keynote address.

Former politician and Ambassador, Amanda Vanstone will lead a question and answer panel.

The workshop will be hosted by Deakin University and the Australian Republican Movement.

Professor Kingsbury, who has a passionate interest in how we shape our national identity (and who played a pivotal role in bringing peace to Aceh) encouraged those who couldn't attend to have a say via the Faculty of Arts' Facebook page and twitter feed.

"How we want to be governed is central to the type of society we want to live in," Professor Kingsbury said.

"One of the roles of a university is to create public discussion and debate and I hope the workshop will do this in its own small way.

"We are working to generate not just a discussion among workshop participants, but at the grass roots where it matters most - among all Australians and especially around Australia Day.

"Young people have a view about what and who their future head of state should look like and it will be exciting if they can directly tell us."

Speakers will include: John Power (Melbourne University) and Harshan Kumarasingham (Humboldt Institute), John Warhust (Australian National University), Glen Patmore (Melbourne University), Anne Twomey (Sydney University), Greg Barns and Henry Pill (Australian Republic Movement) and Daniel White (Australian Republic Movement).

Professor Kingsbury said other issues explored by workshop presenters will include:
• how other Westminster-style countries, in becoming republics, have dealt with the issue of reserve powers. How do they fare when a constitutional crises arises and what lessons can Australia learn.
• Whether the Wall Street protests and the Arab uprisings have anything to teach those pressing for a republic.
• Whether Australia can learn from the debates occurring in Canada and Jamaica about moving to a republic
• Expectations of a successful Head of State vary, but what would a day to day head of state look like in an Australian republic given widespread popular distaste for political office-holders, but equally widespread adulation for celebrities of all sorts.
• What key changes would be required in the constitution to usher in a Republic
• Whether Australia should follow Bulgaria, Croatia, Ireland, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mongolia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Taiwan, Timor –Leste, Turkey in adopting a semi-presidential approach to its head of state

Further information:

Workshop website
The workshop costs $50 for waged and $30 unwaged (includes catering).
Registration is essential
The workshop will be held in the Deakin University Melbourne City Centre, Level 3, 550 Bourke Street, Melbourne.

News facts
  • How we want to be governed is central to the type of society we want to live in
  • We are working to generate not just a discussion among workshop participants, but at the grass roots where it matters most - among all Australians and especially around Australia Day
  • Workshop on Saturday, February 4, will explore what we want from our head of state

Media contact

Sandra Kingston
Deakin Media Relations
03 9246 8221/ 0422 005 485
sandra.kingston@deakin.edu.au

Deakin University acknowledges the traditional land owners of present campus sites.

24th January 2012