News National Shorten breathes new life into republic debate

Shorten breathes new life into republic debate

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On Australia Day eve, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has urged Australians to reconsider becoming a republic.

Mr Shorten also called for Australians to be “brave enough” to demand constitutional recognition for the first Australians.

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Speaking in Melbourne at the launch of a book on mateship, he said Australians should have the confidence to examine the meaning behind the values so frequently invoked.

“Let us have the courage to ask ourselves if we measure up to more than just a grab-bag of cliches,” Mr Shorten said.

“And let us breathe new life into the dream of an Australian head of state.”

Mr Shorten said that 114 years ago, Australians found the courage and goodwill to transform the continent into a Commonwealth.

He hoped that in the 21st century, Australians should declare that their head-of-state should be Australian.

“Let us rally behind an Australian republic – a model that truly speaks for who we are: our modern identity, our place in our region and our world,” he said.

The book, Mateship: A Very Australian History, by commentator and Labor historian Nick Dyrenfurth, casts a critical eye over one of the most widely invoked but least thoroughly examined words in our national vocabulary, Mr Shorten said.

“That acknowledged that as much as we celebrate the virtues of Australian mateship, it has rarely included everyone,” he said.

“At the beginning of the 20th century the Australian Workers Union declared itself open to all workers no matter what their sex or occupation, with the exception of Chinese, Japanese, Kanakas (Pacific Island workers), Afghans or coloured aliens,” Mr Shorten said

with AAP

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