Peaceful celebrations of the country’s national day was the scene across Australia today. Thousands turned up for events in Sydney, parades in Melbourne and beach-going in Adelaide despite bad weather and moderate temperatures.
In Canberra Prime Minister Tony Abbott was photographed with hundreds of new Australians.
However, it has been revealed that Tony Abbott and Opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten hold drastically different viewpoints when it comes to Australia’s future.
Bill Shorten is continuing the viewpoint of former boss and Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who declared herself as a republican early on in her premiership.
“Becoming a republic would accurately reflect a modern and inclusive Australia” the left-leaning newspaper The Guardian reported.
“Let us breathe new life into the dream of an Australian head of state…114 years ago Australians found the courage and goodwill to transform this continent into a commonwealth. In the 21st century let us live up to their example. Let us declare that our head of state should be one of us… Let us rally behind an Australian republic. A model that truly speaks for who we are: our modern identity, our place in our region and our world” said Mr. Shorten, at the book launch of “Mateship: A Very Australian History” by Nick Dyrenfurth, in Melbourne on Sunday.
“I believe Australians are smart enough and generous enough to know that our national story is not a choose-your-own adventure where we pick and mix the chapters that portray us in the best light,”
Meanwhile, Mr. Abbott, a well-known traditionalist of the pro-Monarchy group, has leapt in the other direction – extremely so, in fact.
Mr. Abbott named Prince Phillip, spouse of Queen Elizabeth II a knight of the Australia order on what many call (in reference to the brutal colonisation of Australia) ‘Invasion day’.
In an article in the Brisbane Times, Scott Coleman of the Australian Monarchist League society said “This singular honour is much more than a fancy golden trinket; it is a uniquely Australian way of recognising pre-eminent service to the nation and humanity, and it is only right that Prince Philip, a person who has devoted his life to the service of the Commonwealth and the people of Australia, be honoured in this way.
Some republicans and social media obsessives, upset and bewildered at the dwindling support for a republic in Australia, have criticised the fact that a non-resident has been recognised with an Order of Australia. This is absurd. Many incredible people, including Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa, have been recognised for their outstanding contributions to humanity with an Order of Australia, even though they don’t call Australia home.
Was it not Bob Hawke, a republican prime minister, who recommended that Prince Philip receive what was then Australia’s highest honour? It is rare indeed for anyone to show the level of commitment to service of Prince Philip, and the award announced on Australia Day was entirely appropriate, recognising the service of a great bloke to a great nation.”
The last time the idea of an Australian republic was put to the test was in November 1999, where the ‘Yes’ vote was beaten by the ‘No’ vote by 54.87% to 45.13% (6,410,787 to 5,273,024 votes).
Among those supportive at the time were former Prime Ministers Malcolm Fraser (Liberal) and Gough Whitlam (Labor).