GREAT RESPECT: The republic debate has fired up once more, but Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien says there are bigger issues we need to consider before talking about changing a system which has worked.
GREAT RESPECT: The republic debate has fired up once more, but Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien says there are bigger issues we need to consider before talking about changing a system which has worked. Phil Noble

'Bigger things to face': Queen still rules in Gympie

THE republic debate has returned, but Gympie seems to want to adhere to the adage, "if it is not broke, then do not fix it".

While the change was not ruled out at some point in the future, the absence of concrete plans was a clear hurdle.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull may have floated the idea of a postal survey, but Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien said plenty of other matters needed attention first.

"There are bigger things we should face as a nation before getting down into a debate on a system of government that has served us well," Mr O'Brien said.

It was a similar sentiment from Gympie MP Tony Perrett, who said there needed to be a clear picture of what was proposed before any serious conversation could start.

"Unless there's something that's solid, there's no way anyone could support it," Mr Perrett said.

"There's nothing at the moment that would convince me to change my mind."

Gympie Mayor Mick Curran said the republic debate was not one which had raucously ripped through the halls of Gympie Regional Council.

"Council has had no reason to consider a position as this would be a federal matter," he said.

 

MPs Tony Perrett, Llew O'Brien and Mayor Mick Curran.
MPs Tony Perrett, Llew O'Brien and Mayor Mick Curran. Renee Albrecht

Residents were also mostly in agreement with keeping the status quo.

Yvonne Simpson questioned how big of an impact any change would be.

"Nothing's going to change, is it?" she said.

"I think Australia has its own identity."

Jan Collins said any change would sacrifice stability, as long-term upheaval would follow.

"I think there's protection in (the current system)," she said.

The amount of money which would be spent was a major concern for Annette Guerts. Having just spent $122 million on the same-sex marriage vote, she wondered if another mass expenditure was a good idea, given the continued drop in funding for basic services like health.

Donna Reardon said while it might come down to personal choice, it might be time to test the waters with a postal vote and see if our views had changed.

"Maybe it wouldn't be a bad thing, it represents what our population is asking for," she said.

"I appreciate the monarchy but we are progressing as a society," she added.

Gympie rejects change in 1999

THE Australian Republic Movement hopes a groundswell of support this year will see the issue become "impossible to ignore", forcing political leaders to put the issue on the national agenda.

In 2015 the movement was reinvigorated with a passionate address at the National Press Club by author, former Wallaby and republican chair Peter FitzSimons. His speech marked the first significant return of republicanism to the national discourse since the 1999 referendum.

The vote - whether Australia should become a republic - was emphatically rejected by Gympie electors.

In the federal electorate of Wide Bay, the no case won 74.3 per cent of the vote compared to 25.7 per cent of people who voted yes.

Queensland had the highest no vote in the nation at 62.56 per cent. Only the electorates of Ryan and Brisbane voted yes.

Mr FitzSimons said it was time for another debate.

"I actually think the idea that, 250 years after Captain Cook landed, Australians coming together to work out the final step to true independence under the Southern Cross - as enjoyed by the first peoples - could be a wonderfully unifying exercise, and precisely what we need," he said.

Gympie Times


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