What is special about Australia's 100 year old Constitution? This question can be answered through a large number of points, including: the fact that the constitution was written by the people for the people; its demonstration of lasting stability and security; and the roles of the Queen and the Governor-General.
Australia today is a multicultural country, a rich blend of the cultures of many lands. The argument that it is populated by migrants from or descendants of the people of the United Kingdom has steadily lost strength with the inflow of migrants from many other countries. Arguments to retain the monarchy ignore the Aborigines who were here thousands of years before Captain Cook “took possession” of their land in the name of a foreign king.
- The SIEV X National Memorial Project is an Australia-wide Young People's Art Collaboration, to design and build a memorial to the people of SIEV X, on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra, the national capital.
The following is from The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature, eds. William H. Wilde, Joy Hooton, and Barry Andrews (Oxford University Press, 1994).
On the theme There is No Place Like Home, school children will be encouraged to find and interview someone who was driven or torn from their home and forced to begin a new life and make a new home among strangers. Children and young adults will be invited to find and tell the stories of refugee or Indigenous Australians, displaced peoples from recent times or from the distant past. The competition will encourage the discovery of the meaning and experience of exile or forced dispossession, but participants will also discover how their peers or elders survived and rebuilt their lives.
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Judging by the current discussion about whether Australia should change its status from Commonwealth nation to republic, one can easily get the impression that such a change will either automatically solve the country’s problems or make them worse than they are at present.
The Times Atlas of the World (1989) lists 154 countries. Of these, 114 are republics. There are six, including Australia, listed as Commonwealth nations. Two, New Zealand and Canada, are dominions.
The Union Jack, the flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is composed of the crosses of St George of England, St Patrick of Ireland and St Andrew of Scotland. The Union Jack is included in the flags of Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Tuvalu.
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It is cheap rhetoric for those in Australia who claim that the fighting of the Australian army against the forces of Germany and Japan was stimulated or brought about by the presence of the Union Jack in the top left corner of the Australian flag.
The retention of the Union Jack in the Australian flag has come to symbolise in some measure the struggle over whether Australia should become a republic. Monarchies, world wide, have been almost entirely eliminated. The call for a republic in Australia is in line with that development.
The basic question to be asked, however, is: “If Australia becomes a republic, the 115th in the world, cutting its ties with the outmoded British monarchy, adopting a flag without the foreign Union Jack, what real difference will it make to the working people of this country?”
The National Library of Australia’s Papers of Sir Edmund Barton is the archive of the first prime minister of Australia, Edmund Barton (1849–1920). Containing personal documents and records, the collection also includes diaries, newspaper cuttings and other items relating to Barton’s private and professional life. One of the more significant items in the collection is a copy of the 1891 Draft of a Bill to Constitute the Commonwealth of Australia. Barton had three copies of this document in his papers; one is more important than the other two because it is annotated with Barton’s handwritten notes.