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Federal conventions: only one republican delegate

 

In fact only one delegate at the nineteenth century constitutional conventions argued for the end of the monarchy.  

He was George Richard Dibbs, the Premier of New South Wales. When he visited London, he accepted a knighthood. The Bulletin referred to him as Sir George Republican Dibbs.

 



Banjo Paterson wrote a ballad of GR Dibbs:

This is the story of G.R.D.,
Who went on a mission across the sea
To borrow some money for you and me.

This G. R. Dibbs was a stalwart man
Who was built on a most extensive plan,
And a regular staunch Republican.

But he fell in the hands of the Tory crew
Who said, "It's a shame that a man like you
Should teach Australia this nasty view."

From her mother's side she should ne'er be gone,
And she ought to be glad to be smiled upon,
And proud to be known as our hanger-on."

And G. R. Dibbs, he went off his peg
At the swells who came for his smiles to beg
And the Prince of Wales -- who was pulling his leg
And he told them all when the wine had flown,
"The Australian has got no land of his own,
His home is England, and there alone."

So he strutted along with the titled band
And he sold the pride of his native land
For a bow and a smile and a shake of the hand.

And the Tory drummers they sit and call:
"Send over your leaders great and small;
For the price is low, and we'll buy them all
With a tinsel title, a tawdry star
Of a lower grade than our titles are,
And a puff at a prince's big cigar."

And the Tories laugh till they crack their ribs
When they think how they purchased G. R. Dibbs.

The Bulletin, 27 August 1892 .

 



The realisation that there is little or no reason to complain about a monarchy  that is there only as long as the nation wants it, and holds its  powers in trust for the nation, has been expressly acknowledged  by Queen Elizabeth herself at her golden wedding celebrations at the Guildhall in 1997:

" ... an hereditary constitutional monarchy  exists only with the support and consent of the people. "

Australia’s 'nineteenth-century  republicanism, while it lasted, was overtly racist,  based on a narrow, isolationist and exclusive  image of Australia as a white man's land. It was motivated by a fear of Asian immigration.

And these republicans were also  dismissive of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Mark McKenna concludes, "There is no heroic pantheon of  republican antecedents in Australia."  

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