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Republic reflects the spirit of federation.

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Senator Natasha Stott Despoja Leader of the Australian Democrats 11th October 2001 MEDIA RELEASE 01/612

Republic reflects the spirit of Federation Giving the Deakin University School of Law Oration tonight, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, Leader of the Australian Democrats, described the move to an Australian Republic as part of the unfinished business of nation building.

“The Republican movement represents the spirit of Federation,” said Senator Stott Despoja.

“One hundred years ago, Australians did not argue, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.

“Federation was far more radical a reform than anything presented by contemporary Republicans.

“The challenge we face in bringing about an Australian Republic is modest compared to the challenge of our forebears 100 years ago. We do not need to build a nation, only to improve one.

“The Constitution was only intended as a starting point. The framers left it up to us to continue with the innovation they began.

“It is part of our democratic spirit to protest, to challenge, to debate and to change what is unjust. Women and Indigenous Australians had to campaign for the right to vote and run for Parliament. The 1967 referendum gave all Indigenous Australians the right to vote.

“From 1901, our nation has been a leader in constitutional innovation.

“Those who see the Republican movement as an attack on our history do not really understand the spirit of Federation. If the champions of Federation could see us now, they would encourage us to continue to look at our institutions with a critical eye.”

Senator Stott Despoja outlined the case for constitutional change the Democrats are pursing, including fixed parliamentary terms, voter initiated referenda, a Bill of Rights, and an Australian head of state.

“The Democrats have proposed a plebiscite of two questions to find a popular model for the Republic. Without action, the Queen and her descendents will remain at the apex of our political institutions indefinitely,” concluded Senator Stott Despoja.

The Deakin University School of Law Oration is being given: When: 8pm speech, Thursday 11 October 2001 Where: McInerney Theatre, Deakin University Toorak Campus, 336 Glenferrie Rd, Malvern

For further information: Alison Rogers on 0419 867 649 or Daele Healy on 0409 3000 47