An Australian Republic
Scribe, $22 pb, 135 pp
An Australian Republic presents itself as the book to reopen the republic debate – a defibrillator for our body politic. It turns out, however, to be another example of the lazy argument that marks much of Australia’s progressive discourse. It answers to nothing but its own echo chamber. Meaningless sentences such as ‘Australia is a nation of multiple and changing identities; a moving kaleidoscope of diverse and colourful images’ abound; baseless statements – such as ‘for many of those immigrants … a constitutional system that identified both structurally and symbolically with Australia’s British origins was incompatible, unfamiliar, and indeed alien’ – are supported with the barest of evidence (the quote’s footnote refers readers to an article in Feminist Review entitled ‘The Republic is a Feminist Issue’). Inconsistencies stick out like bookmarks: John Howard’s narrowly economic definition of Australianness ‘promotes a distinctive and exclusively white, male-orientated, Brito-centric identity’. True, perhaps, but this could equally be said about other conceptions of Australian identity presented, without censure, on the preceding page.