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"Commonwealth"



 

The choice of this word to describe our Federation, the Commonwealth of Australia, is consistent with Australia being a crowned republic. That word "Commonwealth" is, after all, the English equivalent to a republic. But as with the word "republic", it does not necessarily mean a state in which there is no monarch or sovereign. From 1649 to 1660, England was a Commonwealth or republic under Oliver Cromwell. But it was also a de facto monarchy with the office of Lord Protector passing to his son,  son Richard. 

The term is used today not only in relation to Australia but also The Bahamas, and four American states which do not have a monarch.   It can be thus used in relation to a state where there is no hereditary monarch.

The term was proposed by Sir Henry Parkes, who believed Australia to be a republic. This was at the 1891 Federal Convention in Sydney. It was adopted in 1897-8.  In both conventions, observe Founding Fathers Sir John Quick and Sir Robert Garren, other names were suggested, including “United Australia,” “Federated Australia,” and “ The Australian Dominion.”  But “Commonwealth” prevailed, the principal objection being it was suggestive of republicanism.


As we are arguably already a republic, albeit crowned or disguised, and as our constitutional system is one of the most successful in the world, constiutional moanrchists ask why there is susch a fuss over turning Australia into a politicians' republic. The principal proponents, they say,  do not seriouly argue that this will improve governance.  

They say millions and millions of dollars already been spent and more is proposed to be spent on this.

 More importantly, they ask why anyone would wish to change any of the fundamental features of such a successful constitutional system of which there are so few in the world. 

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