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Thursday, 19 March 2015
Page: 1936

Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (13:00): I rise today to support the Succession to the Crown Bill 2015, but I could not say that I agree with the parliamentary secretary's second reading speech when he said, 'It aligns the royal succession laws with modern values.' If anything that is a total oxymoron. For goodness sake, of course we should be in a situation where if you wish to maintain the monarchy, if you wish to maintain succession of privilege and wealth by virtue of who you are born to and in which country, well then, yes, absolutely, that girls should be able to take on the role and should not be bypassed in favour of a brother, an uncle or somebody else.

But here we are so late behind the eight ball, with Catherine about to have her baby in the UK. Why is Australia lagging behind? It is because of Queensland. This is how ridiculously backward this country has become—Campbell Newman refused when COAG got together to say, 'Let's give this the big tick.' This was actually put forward before Prince William had his first child, but Queensland held it up, and why? Queensland say that they, like every other state, have a personal and direct relationship with the royal family and it will not be subjugated to a national point of view.

So in Australia we have this ridiculous proposition maintained that we are so enamoured of the monarchy that every state has its own governor, who is effectively the viceroy who has the personal relationship with the British monarchy and that is why they will reserve the right to decide. Not only did Campbell Newman hold this up, the former Premier of Queensland; of course, he went backwards and took down the new coat of arms that Queensland had developed and restored the former coat of arms for Queensland.

Australia is a modern country. I am really proud of this nation and we should have our own head of state. It is a complete nonsense that we are still deferring to the British royal family. The British royal family themselves think it is ridiculous. At the end of her to Diamond Jubilee year, the Queen said she understands where Australia sits in relation to the end of British Empire. It would be an enormous relief to her if we finally stood up for ourselves, I am sure. How ridiculous would we have looked had the referendum for Scotland had succeeded. We would have looked so stupid—there was Scotland, an independent country, and Australia still with its apron strings attached to the monarchy. It would have looked utterly ridiculous. Where would we have been with our flag and everything else at that point? It all would have had to have been changed if Scotland had to be taken off.

At some point we need to stand up. At some point, Australia must affirm itself is a modern, independent nation that can have its own national identity and values and our own head of state. Times have changed. Australia has changed. The Queen realises Australia has changed. That does not mean that Australians do not have enormous affection for the royal family. They do. That is not the point. The point is we should be a republic. We should have our own head of state. We should be getting on with it. It is a national embarrassment that Queensland, under Campbell Newman, have left us in this invidious position. I support the change to these succession. I support it in terms of women being able to take their place but in a broader context. This is not a debate the Australian parliament should be having in 2015. The debate we should be having is: Australia, the republic; the strong, independent nation in the world.