In 1999 Australians voted in a referendum that would shape their nation for decades.
The question? Should Australia ditch its monarchy and becomea republic.
They voted to keep the monarchy, with 6.
4million voting for the queen and 5.
2 million voting for the republic.
But was this win surprising? Monarchists argue there are no legitimatereasons to make Australia a republic.
They say this is because in many ways Australiais already what they call a “crowned republic”.
So what does this mean? Well firstly, Australia is what is calleda constitutional monarchy.
This means Australia has Elizabeth II as monarch,but because the Queen lives in the United Kingdom, she is represented by a Governor-Generalwho acts as the head of state in her place.
The current governor general is Sir PeterCosgrove, who replaced the first female Governor-General in 2014.
So monarchists say that this system, wherethe Governor-General is at the head, is already very similar to the systems used in most republicswhere a President is appointed by the parliament.
But if is so similar,then why not just get rid of the monarch, which represents a extra, layerof our government that has little power and has little involvement Whilst members of the royal family visit Australiaregularly the Queen herself hasnot visited since 2011 when she oversaw the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Unfortunately the Australian republic debateis dogged by misinformation from both sides of the argument.
Monarchists think that if Australia becomesa republic, we would need to change our flag.
This isn’t true, we could keep the flagas a republic, we could even change the flag today if we wanted.
They also argue that a republic would be expensive.
We would need to change our coins, since the Queen is on them.
We wouldn’t, they’d still be legal tender.
And they conveniently leave out the fact thatthe coins change regularly with a new portrait of the Queen, and whilst many are startingto think it, unfortunately the Queen is probably not immortal.
So the coins, and the fiver, would have tochange anyway when Charles becomes King.
It’s also argued that acronyms and the likewould need to change, since many organisations have the word Royal in their names.
But what letter does republican start with? And navy ships and other things that makereference to Her Majesty, like HMAS Canberra or my local telephoneexchange, Her Majesty’s Exchange Ayr, could just be changed to reflect the title of theGovernor-General.
Or they could just leave them.
There is no rulebook for becoming a republic,some might say that is the entire point.
But republicans are part of the misinformationproblem too.
They scaremonger saying Australia is notindependent.
It very much is.
Australia became independent of the UnitedKingdom in 1942 when King George gave his Royal Assent to theWestminster Statute adoption in Australia.
But even with this act, there was still confusionabout whether the British could legislate in Australia.
So in the 1980s this was resolved by the adoptionof 2 Bills.
The Australia Act Commonwealth, which waspassed in Canberra, and the Australia Act United Kingdom, which was passed in London.
The acts were identical and adoption was simultaneousbecause both governments were still unsure which one had the authority to pass the act,so they agreed to do it at the same time with the same words.
So Australia has been fully independent sincePrince William was about 4 years old.
So if a republic referendum was held todayin Australia what would happen? Well polls and research show that supportfor the monarchy has grown since the referendum.
Research from the Australian Journal of PoliticalScience shows that support for the monarchy was low during the 1990s, which coincidedwith 2 high profile royal scandals.
The divorce of Prince Charles and Diana, and the Queen's refusal to address the Commonwealth on Diana’s death,treating it instead as a smaller private matter.
Another interesting factor interesting factor is in the age demographic.
The age group with the highest support forthe monarchy are 70 years+, followed surprisingly by millennials.
The most republican cohort are the baby boomers,who were young adults in 1975 when the monarchy intervened and sacked an Australian PrimeMinister, a unique moment in Commonwealth history.
Whilst a referendum to make australia a republicwould likely fail today, it's difficult to predict what future trends will be.
Do you think in 50 years time australia willstill have a king or queen?.