Prince Charles is always welcome in Australia, but I hope when he next visits, he will be greeted by an Australian head of state.
It has been 15 years since John Howard – as the now Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull put it – "broke the nation's heart" in defeating the republic referendum. Since that moment, those who support an Australian republic have been waiting for another opportunity to vote for an overdue change in our national identity.
I believe that chance has now come.
Australia has leaders on both sides of politics who believe Australia is confident and imaginative enough to restart this stalled national project. I have made clear that if Labor is elected at the next election, we will aim to make the next decade Australia's first with a head of state who is one of us.
But both Malcolm Turnbull and I both support a republic, so why wait?
With the republic there will always be people who say this is an idea that can wait for a better time, at a later date. It's not a new argument – or a strong one.
Some people said the National Disability Insurance Scheme could wait.
Some people said an apology would just be empty symbolism.
Some people called universal super a "con-job"; Medicare, unworkable; the minimum wage, unaffordable.
They were wrong then, they are still wrong.
Constitutional change is not beyond modern Australia. Our courts can interpret it, our parliament can offer it. But only we can make our constitution truly Australian, truly ours.
To be fair, Malcolm Turnbull has already listened to Labor's call to abolish Tony Abbott's cultural cringe on knights and dames, but he's been missing in action on the republic debate.
It is not too long before Australians will have the opportunity to make right a two-century-old wrong and extend constitutional recognition to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This will be an uplifting moment for all Australians. And also a moment of contemplation of our place as a vibrant, modern, prosperous, multicultural society living in the most economically dynamic time and place in human history.
Our constitution should mirror these qualities. It should exist not as a passive, archaic, formality but a reflection and projection of who we are as Australians.
In the 21st century we no longer hide behind the walls of fortress Australia, seeing ourselves as an outpost of empire, fearfully perched on the edge of Asia. We no longer take a narrow, race-based notion of citizenship. We celebrate diversity, we are grateful to count people from every nation, culture, tradition and faith as our own.
We should go to our region and the world proudly independent – declaring that we are no longer going to borrow a monarch from another country on the other side of the world.
Our constitution came into being as an act of the British parliament – 114 years later, our nation has changed, our place in the world has changed, and our constitution should change with it.
The republic debate is a chance for all of us to bring our constitution home, to vote our national birth certificate into existence as an Australian document, for our times.
An expression of the sovereign will of all Australians, where, unlike in 1901, the voices of women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be heard.
What a day it will be when all of us, confident in our Australian identity, are able to declare to the world we are running the place ourselves.
An Australian republic, with an Australian head of state. That's what I hope greets Charles Windsor's first visit to Australia as king.
This opinion piece was first published on the Age’s website on Tuesday, 10 November 2015
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