The critical constitutional conversations ahead of us

Today, Australians rightly pay our respects to Queen Elizabeth II as she is laid to rest.

Whether or not you support our system of constitutional monarchy, Her Majesty’s lifetime of service is worthy of thanks and recognition.

However, it does not take away from this to acknowledge that the symbol of the British monarchy causes pain for Indigenous peoples across the world.

Rather, it strengthens us as a nation to acknowledge this.

In the years ahead, we will debate becoming a republic, where any Australian can aspire to becoming our Head of State.

When we last pondered this question, it was done in an environment of growing national pride and confidence, but was still resolved in the negative.

I am not sure that Australians are as positive and confident as we were in 1999, with growing global concerns and a growing acknowledgment of unfinished business in reconciling with our First Nations peoples.

Which is one of the reasons why the upcoming referendum on a constitutionally enshrined Voice for Aboriginal people is so important.

If that referendum passes, I can see the positivity and pride generated carrying forward into a second referendum on a republic.  A no vote, however, bodes ill for both our national self-esteem and the hopes of republicans.

So, let’s pay our respects today. And steel ourselves for the conversations that will define our national identity for generations to come.

Daniel Smith is executive chair of ReGen Strategic


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