September 14

An Attack on Australian Identity

The Australian Republican Movement (ARM) claims that becoming a republic is in Australia’s best interests. However I very much doubt any leading ARM members even know what it means to be an Australian, often claiming that Australia lacks her own identity.

ARM Media Director, David Donovan's recent article entitled "Southern Pacific Poms", claims that Australia lacks its own “unambiguous” identity. He implies that Australia, as a nation, is laughed at due to our constitutional arrangements.

“Try to explain Australia’s current arrangements to an Indian or a Greek person and you can see them struggling to keep a straight face” he argues. This is despite Australia’s constitution being one of the oldest in the world (over 100 years) and arguably the most stable. Certainly more stable than that of India or Greece.

Donovan draws attention to an article Britain May Lose Green Continent After Queen’s Death written by the Russian paper Pravda, arguing another nations ignorance is a reason for change.

I put it to any loyal Australian and ask them if a journalist not being able to use Google is a reason for change?

Chairman of the ARM, Michael Keating shares Donovan's views on Australian identify. In an interview with, Keating echo’s Donovan’s view that Australia lacks an “unambiguous identity”, a sentiment that is echoed in numerous press releases.

“The fact is, we need to become a republic to present a unified and unambiguous face to the world” he says. What? Doesn’t Australia all ready have all of these things? Last time I looked Australia presents a unified and unambiguous face, whether in cricket matches, at the UN, or Queensland’s bid for the Commonwealth games. Can anyone really say that Australia wasn’t unified when presenting its unique identity at the 2000 Sydney Olympics (the best there has ever been)?

“National pride” is also a reason for change according to Donovan, although I haven’t met an Australian who wasn’t all ready filled with Pride, waving their flag on Australia day, chanting “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi” at sporting events,  or putting on the accent to pick up foreign girls.

On the site (run by Donovan), he made the comment “We can’t say that we are truly independent until we break the umbilical cord to the mother country”. My question is what umbilical cord? We have Queen Elizabeth of Australia, all ties relating to the United Kingdom were cut in 1987.

I’ll also note that I have never viewed the UK as the “mother country”, the only county I see as being my mother is the one I was born and raised in.

Many supporters of this group have also voiced their “concern” and "views" on Australia’s identity and place in the world. Some of my favorite quotes include:

  • “It is time for Australia to pass the test of maturity”
  • “It’s time for us to stand on our own two feet”
  • “break the umbilical cord to the mother country”
  • “Australia’s adolescence has lasted more than 100 years since Federation”

A quick look at that ARMs face book page and numerous press releases will provide many more examples of distain for Australia’s identity. So I ask how can any group which is obviously lacking in pride for Australia’s unique and diverse culture lecture anyone on national pride?

[Mark Legge is an undergraduate student studying Animal and Veterinary Bioscience at the University of Sydney]

[For references, click the "Read more" link below]



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