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29 August 2023, 15:04
Legislative Council of Victoria, Melbourne

David ETTERSHANK (Western Metropolitan):

I rise to make a contribution to the Statute Law Amendment (References to the Sovereign) Bill 2023. Given the pro-republican flavour of many of my previous contributions in this place, I suspect it is no surprise that I would jump at the chance to speak on a bill of this kind, even when it is something as mundane as basically a sort of control-F-and-replace statute amendment bill.

But some here do not seem to consider this to be a mundane bill. They even appear to suggest that these amendments could be a vehicle for republicanism by stealth. Would you believe it? A statute amendment bill is going to make us a republic – if only. I wish. If it was only that easy, then we could ring up our beloved Prime Minister, Albo, and I bet he would be just thrilled to know that he need not spend millions of dollars on a republican referendum – ‘Don’t worry, Albo, the Victorian Labor government has got it sorted.’

We have heard numerous complaints in the Legislative Assembly and in this place regarding this bill, particularly those parts that opted to remove explicit references to the sovereign. One was an objection to the Crown Proceedings Act 1958 removing references such as ‘our Lady Queen’ and replacing them with ‘King’ instead of ‘our Lord the King’. It is comical, and some, including me, would go so far as to say that it is inane that in this day and age this would be a point of contention. Who in modern Australia could really relate to such a turn of phrase? If you are under 70 and you can relate to this phrase of ‘our Lord the King’, I would just have to suggest you need to stop watching re-runs of Game of Thrones. We have moved beyond that. We need modern language that reflects a modern Australia. We have matured as a nation, and we should use this maturity to discuss the future of our nationhood. It is my hope that this takes the form of self-determination and, better yet, a republic.

Over the last few weeks our nation has been transfixed by the spectacular efforts of the Matildas at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Cruelly, their journey was unfortunately cut short by England’s team, but what did our next potential head of state have to say during the lead-up to this match? ‘Good luck, England.’

Michael GALEA (South-Eastern Metropolitan):


David ETTERSHANK (Western Metropolitan):

Shame, shame. And what about us, his loyal subjects? Well, apparently nothing – nothing at all. Here we see the crux of the issue. For all our talk of everyone deserving a fair go, Australia can never have an Australian head of state. Instead we have a foreign monarch whose role is handed down within a single family generation after generation by divine providence. Empowered as they are, they purportedly represent our nation and our national identity. Pigs fly, too. Republicanism is not a political statement. It is a question of personal and national identity. It is about democracy, in terms of both participation and representation. Most importantly, republicanism is about reconciling our present and our future with 65,000 years of unceded and continuous occupancy. This, however – this bill before us today – is a simple statute law amendment bill to correct ambiguities, references and errors found in statutes by way of references to ‘Her Majesty’ and similar terms. The bill will also futureproof legislation for demises or successions of the sovereign – remember, today’s rooster is tomorrow’s feather duster.

Although Legalise Cannabis Victoria will support this bill, it is my hope that such futureproofing will become redundant. By this I mean to say that I hope that history records King Charles as the last king of Australia as it peacefully transitions to a republic and, further, that history records that this occurs but a few short years after this country constitutionally recognises 65,000 years of continuous Indigenous ownership with voice, truth-telling and treaty.


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