Waleed Aly has sparked a debate with his The Project co-hosts by calling for an Indigenous elder to replace Queen Elizabeth II as Australia’s head of state
The debate between monarchy and republic has been reignited in Australia as the official mourning period comes to an end following the Queen’s death two weeks ago.
As Australians marked the National Day of Mourning on Thursday, Aly proposed an alternative approach that would see an Indigenous elder as Australia’s future head of state, rather than a monarch or president.
But co-host Carrie Bickmore disagreed, arguing people want consistency after having a queen for 70 years.
Aly described the monarchy as immutable, shrouded in history, tradition and ritual.
“In short, the monarchy becomes a sort of foil for government. It works mainly because it’s undemocratic and imposes relatively little on citizens,” Aly said.
Waleed Aly has led calls for an Indigenous elder to replace the Queen as Australia’s head of state. Demonstrators are pictured denouncing colonization at a rally in Sydney on the National Day of Mourning for the Queen
“It is powerful precisely because it has no real power. The queen was loved because she was so often silent, so often there was a blank canvas.’
He believes if Australians are asked to renounce the monarch, he must be replaced with something more appropriate but magical.
“There’s no sense of permanence, history or ritual in an Australian president that we’re going to replace,” Aly explained.
“If we are to do this, we must draw on our own sources of tradition, ceremony and spirituality.”
He advocated appointing a recognized indigenous elder for life as our head of state, which has already been the case is anchored in a long history and a culture full of ceremonies.
“One of the great things about some Indigenous ceremonies like Welcome to Country is that they’re often informal,” Aly added.
“This extraordinary blend of ceremony and informality captures something unique and charming about the Australian character.”
“We could even name our elderly uncle or aunt, and when our aunt dies, deep mourning rituals would already exist for us to embrace as a nation.”
Carrie Bickmore (right) disagreed with The Project co-host Waleed Aly’s bold proposal
He admitted the office would be shut down on racist grounds, but pointed out that the same applies to the monarchy will always be white and does not extend to white Catholics.
“It’s also undemocratic, which reflects exactly one of the virtues of the monarchy,” he added.
“Sure, I see problems. For example, how would the elder be chosen from the hundreds of First Nations we have? Does it spin in a predetermined way?
“Our head of state must be an apolitical figure who confines himself to speaking on areas on which he is in complete agreement. Would the elder face too much pressure to become an activist?
“I’ll admit it’s rough, but it captures some of the wealth and magic of the monarchy while being undeniable.”
Co-host Carrie Bickmore disagreed, saying it was about the permanence of the monarchy.
“We’ve had a queen for 70 years, so all the words of dignity and permanence and all that, for a lot of people, it’s all about her,” she said.
Georgie Tunny added: It’s an interesting concept to just have something that doesn’t need a precedent at the moment.
“Whether something like that could be apolitical or not, I have my doubts that’s true. I don’t think a head of state can’t be political.
Aly admitted his proposal isn’t foolproof.
“It’s a point of discussion, I’m not necessarily presenting it as a solution,” he said.
“But I think there is something that could be worked on. It literally popped into my head one night because I thought, “There’s something that needs to be preserved.”
Australia marked its National Day of Mourning for the Queen who died two weeks ago