Youth lead republican push

Labor’s Matt Thistlethwaite and Emma Husar with Michael Cooney from the Australian Republican Movement and Western Sydney University students.

Support for the Australian Republic Movement is mounting, with young people the driving force.

Federal Member for Lindsay Emma Husar visited Western Sydney University with the Shadow Assistant Minister for an Australian Head of State, Matt Thistlethwaite, and National Director and CEO of the Australian Republican Movement, Michael Cooney, to push their message that an Australian should be the head of state, not a foreign Monarch.

“They’re getting record numbers signing up to republic clubs in campuses across the country,” Mr Thistlethwaite said.

“The feeling is that young people think it’s time that we began a serious debate again about having an Australian as our head of state.”

Mr Thistlethwaite believes the mood is changing, particularly when it comes to the nation’s youth.

“They don’t believe that the current arrangements sit with the core Australian values of merit, democracy and a fair go,” he said.

“They should be able to aspire to be our nation’s head of state.”

All Labor MPs in the Commonwealth Parliament are republicans, with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten committing to putting a question to the voters by the end of his first term in office, ‘do you support an Australian republic with an Australian head of state?’.

“For the first time in Australian history, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and the leader of every State and Territory Government are committed republicans,” Mr Thistlethwaite said.

While the move to a republic would see many significant changes, Mr Cooney believes that those changes will “make our lives better”.

“If you look at Australian politics today, it’s pretty hard to believe that it’s not broken and we shouldn’t fix it,” he said.

“There’s a lot of things that we will be able to retain by being a republic, and one of those is being a part of the Commonwealth.”

While the republic movement resonates with young voters, Ms Husar wants the Lindsay community to go on the “journey” of discovering what the move to becoming a republic looks like together, “for them to be allowed to make up their mind in an informed way”.

“It’s time now for this country to grow up and have our own head of state,” she said.
St Clair’s Cameron Shamsabad studies at WSU and has thrown his full support behind the move to become a republic.

“I think it’s a movement for equality, a movement for liberty and a movement for democracy,” he told the Weekender.

“Australian citizenship is a different thing today than it was 100 years ago, so it should be more representative.”