As the world changes, so must Australia
TIM MAYFIELD WRITES IN THE HUFFINGTON POST - Let's get one thing straight from the beginning: the United Kingdom is diminished as a result of Brexit and there is precious little that Australia should seek to emulate about the whole sorry process.
That said, it is fair and legitimate for Australians to ask (as we have been in great numbers) "if Britain has the right to determine its future, why can't we?" For as long as Australia's Head of State is the Queen of England and we remain a Constitutional Monarchy, there is a strong case for Australia's own AusExit.
The good news is that Australia's 'Leave' campaign would be nothing like that which we've just witnessed in the UK. Instead of the fear and division that characterised the Brexit campaign, becoming a republic would reflect the best of Australian values.
In leaving the Monarchy behind, we'd be reinforcing Australia's status as a modern nation at ease in our Asia-Pacific neighbourhood. In adopting an Australian head of state, we'd be opening up the one job that is currently off limits to us all.
Rather than the market crashing and the bottom falling out of our currency, an AusExit would have positive outcomes for our economy. For example, it would be a clear and unambiguous statement to our Asian trading partners that our priorities lie in the region.
The worst lesson that we could take from Britain's recent experience is to shut up shop on constitutional reform or to engage with the community less rather than more on the big issues. While some topics should remain the preserve of our elected representatives, the Australian Constitution ain't one of them.
We can argue the merits of giving Brits a vote on remaining in the EU but Australia should never shy away from taking on major items of constitutional reform such as indigenous recognition or an Australian republic. This is why we have section 128 of our Constitution, because those who drafted our founding document knew that it would need to change. Indeed, they probably expected it would change much more than it has in the past 115 years.
Australia's founders set us on a path of divergence from Great Britain that continues to this day. In the intervening years, we've decoupled to the point that we are now equals on the international stage except in one important respect -- Australia's sovereignty continues to be derived from the British Crown. A Crown that we do not elect and one that does not represent us as a people.
The events of recent days have reminded us that the nations of Great Britain are different from Australia -- with varying responses to the challenges of globalisation. We are great friends and shall remain so for a long time to come. But that does not mean that we must remain uncritically neutral -- especially when our own interests are in question.
So as England firmly turns its back on the European project, it is right Scotland and Northern Island are openly wondering whether the United Kingdom should be part of their future. And while Australia is no longer a formal part of Ol' Blighty, our ongoing ties make it logical that we should do the same. This logic has seen Twitter firing with republican passion and membership numbers surge for the Australian Republican Movement.
Advocating for an AusExit is not about repeating the bitter and damaging campaign we have just seen in the UK. It is about recognising that as the world changes, so must Australia. The countries of the United Kingdom are in the process of redefining their future, it is time Australia did the same.
Tim Mayfield, National Director
Originally published in the Huffington Post