Republic Versus Monarchy - part one, section four

Stifles our national identity and culture

Heads of State can fulfil an important role in the national psyche. The fact that Australia's Head of State is the Head of State of the United Kingdom is not just an incident to be taken in isolation, it is just the "tip of the iceberg" in the number of ways that Australia shows its cultural servitude to Britain.

The use, past and present, of the English Monarch as the symbol of Australia in many facets of Australian life does not fail to imbue into many people the impression, whether intended or not, that we are transplanted Britons beholden to the "mother country" and its Monarchy. This means that instead of naturally developing indigenous Australian ways of life and culture, many look to Britain for ways of cultural expression. As Donald Horne pointed out: "It is continued obsession with the monarchy that has helped preserve remnants of a colonial mentality and a nostalgic Britishness".(9)

The psyche of Australia's culture is still impeded and undermined by continual, but usually subtle, references to the English Monarchy, and the institutionalised remains of British rule: various government bodies still print all envelopes with the heading "O.H.M.S." (On Her Majesty's Service); we are defended by the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force; many other institutions bear the prefix "Royal", such as the R.S.P.C.A. (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), Royal Flying Doctor Service, Royal College of Nursing, etc.; our legal system has Queen's Counsels, while our State takes on a royal persona (e.g. "Smith versus The Queen", "Regina versus Smith", with criminal cases being prosecuted by The Crown); offenders are jailed in Her Majesty's Prisons; Royal Commissions are appointed to investigate matters of importance; the Royal assent is required to create new laws; Scouts promise to "do my duty to ... the Queen"; and the Australian flag, with the British flag in pride of place, is seen probably every day (in one form or another) by most Australians. To cap it off: every single coin used daily by the general public has the English Queen starring on it, as well as which her portrait is on all $5 notes (all made, of course, by the Royal Australian Mint).

Although dismissed individually as trivial, these symbols, remains and reminders of a "British Australia" actually appear everywhere and everyday, so that collectively they have eroded the "Australianness" of most Australians, and have infected them with a certain sense of being "British" or "British-Australians", this manifesting itself in a lack of true "Australianism" in our nation's culture. As one commentator put it: "The subconscious of Australia's collective culture has been extensively, but not irreparably, damaged by our still-continuing subservience to British institutions and symbols". Despite any protestations to the contrary, how can we develop a truly Australian culture with one hand while we salute the Queen with the other?

The continuing servility of having an English Monarch has enormous ramifications for the continuing development of the Australian national culture.

Australia has an identity, but it is an identity that is constantly stunted and stifled by our own political and cultural servitude. We should acknowledge the important contribution that Britain, and British people, have made to Australia. However, we have our own identity, culture, and way of life, and for that to fully develop Australia needs to attain independence.

Republic Versus Monarchy

Australian Nationalism Information Database -