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nor do I believe that it is appropriate to have a head of state whose role is purely symbolic, except as it is exercised by her appointed, not elected, representative. I support the Prime Minister's view that Australia's head of state should be elected, at least by the Federal Parliament.
I believe that it is time that Australia cut its ties with the British monarchy. This does not mean that we deny our history or the important ties that still exist between Australian and British peoples; nor does it mean that the Queen is not honoured and respected for the monarch that she is and for the system of governance that she represents. What it does mean is that, in my view, it is high time that Australia stood apart from our British past. We are no longer a British colony; and to retain formal and constitutional ties as if we were still a colony is quite wrong. Australia, like the ACT, is a multicultural society. There are Australians and Canberrans from every corner of the world, and it is my view that our head of state should be drawn from our own multicultural Australian society rather than just from one British family.
A further provision of the Bill that I have introduced is the requirement that oaths and affirmations by MLAs be made before the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or a judge of the court authorised by the Chief Justice. Members may know that in some circumstances this task can currently be delegated, particularly to the Speaker of the Assembly. My view is that the swearing in of MLAs is always a matter of sufficient gravity to involve the Chief Justice or his delegated judge. It also ensures that, at least to some extent, the Assembly is less of a closed shop. It seems appropriate to me also that the Assembly take advantage of the authority and the dignity that the presence of the Chief Justice brings, at least at the outset of our Assembly career or at the commencement of a new term of the Assembly.
I believe that the Bill that I have tabled is timely; it prepares the way for the eventual reality of a future Australian republic; and it more accurately reflects the current constitutional reality of this Territory. I would ask members to search their own motivations for coming into this place, for taking up a career in politics by seeking election to the ACT Legislative Assembly. I think most members would honestly say that their motivation had very little to do with allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II. Even though they may feel strong allegiance to the Queen, the motivation for coming into a political career in this place is to serve the people of the Australian Capital Territory. I believe that the oath or affirmation that we make on embarking on that course should accurately reflect where our allegiance lies. I commend the Bill to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Mr Humphries) adjourned.