AUSTRALIA is stolen land. In 1788, while King George III was the King of England, the British First Fleet of convict ships arrived in Sydney. The decades following saw mass bloodshed and genocide inflicted upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The British declared that the land was terra nullius – a Latin phrase for “nobody’s land” – and claimed it as their own.

Now, in 2023, as Australia begins to seriously confront its past, calls for Australia to move forward as its own republic are stronger than ever. This is a belief I fully support.

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Australia is currently debating on implementing a “Voice to Parliament” which will be proposed in a referendum later in the year. The Voice is an advisory body made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who can provide advice to Parliament. If this is passed, it would be an important mechanism that ensures these peoples always have a voice in Parliament.

This referendum has catalysed a moment of reckoning in Australia, with widespread discourse on British colonisation and the deep wounds of trauma that remain. I have been proud to see how far this conversation has evolved. I feel deep hope that, no matter the outcome, Australia will be much more ready to acknowledge and address its systemic racism.

Despite this progress, the shadow of the crown looms over us. Although the monarchy does not play a day-to-day role in the affairs of this country, Australia is ultimately a subject to an institution on the opposite end of the world. This inevitably constrains our ambition and national identity in terms of how we see ourselves. How can we truly confront the wrongs of the past when this constitutional arrangement is still in place?

As a young person, I do not feel any connection with the crown. I am not alone. In fact, the majority of Australians under 55 want their country to become a republic, according to polling from Lord Ashcroft. The reality is, Australia has changed so much as a nation in terms of our values, our identity, and who we want to be.

The National:

The highest ruler should be an Australian elected by the people. Someone who grew up listening to the sound of the cockatoos and the hum of the cicadas. Someone who wouldn’t think twice if someone said “How ya goin’?” Someone who’s swum in the beautiful beaches of the Gold Coast, listened to the nightlife buzz in Melbourne (above), and watched the beautiful sunset in Alice Springs. Someone who represents the best this country has to offer.

The coronation is an opportunity for Australia to show to the world that they are not afraid to do their representative duties, while at the same time hold independent views about the monarchy and the republic. The Prime Minister of Australia, the Australian High Commissioner, and Australian Ambassador have all stated publicly that they are republicans.

The Prime Minister of the Australia invited me and several other Australians to attend the coronation based on our work and advocacy in the community. But I will be there to represent Australia and its young people as a proud republican, not to be a loyal subject.