Billy Griffiths reviews 'This Time: Australia’s republican past and future' by Benjamin T. Jones

Billy Griffiths reviews 'This Time: Australia’s republican past and future' by Benjamin T. Jones

This Time: Australia’s republican past and future

by Benjamin T. Jones

Redback, $22.99 pb, 222 pp, 9781760640347

In the lead-up to the 1999 republic referendum, historian John Hirst published a short guide to Australian democracy and law. ‘This is not a textbook,’ he wrote in the preface; rather, he intended it to be a ‘painless introduction’ to the system of government that had formed in this country under the British monarchy. He did not hide his republican tendencies: ‘The book will still have served its purpose if readers quarrel with it.’

Almost twenty years later, with the failed referendum now a fading memory, historian Benjamin T. Jones has written a short, passionate book in a similar spirit. This Time: Australia’s republican past and future is not a textbook; nor a history of republicanism: rather, it is ‘one long argument’ about why an Australian should be Australia’s head of state. And although there is plenty to quarrel about within it, it will serve its purpose well if it ignites a national conversation about an Australian republic.

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Billy Griffiths

Billy Griffiths

Billy Griffiths is a Melbourne-based writer and historian. He is the author of The China Breakthrough: Whitlam in the Middle Kingdom, 1971 (2012) and co-editor (with Mike Smith) of The Australian Archaeologist's Book of Quotations (2015). His latest book is Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering ancient Australia (2018, Black Inc.).

Published in May 2018, no. 401

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