(3.50pm 24 May 2012, Parliament House Sydney)
I oppose this retrograde bill and I am disappointed that it is likely to pass and become law with the Government's support. The Constitution Amendment (Restoration of Oaths of Allegiance) Bill 2011 would allow members of both Houses and Ministers to take an oath or affirmation of allegiance to the Queen, her heirs and successors, instead of a pledge of loyalty to Australia and the people of New South Wales. Why, in 2012â€”well into the twenty-first centuryâ€”would this Parliament want to give members and Ministers the option of pledging their allegiance to the Queen, over their country and constituents? Pledging allegiance to the Queen is out of touch with twenty-first century Australia. Our communities expect their Parliament to reflect contemporary views and the make-up of contemporary society.
The City of Sydney is made up of 200 nationalities. As members of Parliament, we should be working to engage people who are outside the political process in governance and democracy. If our politicians are pledging allegiance to an absent monarch, who has little involvement in the affairs of this State, most people will see Parliament as irrelevant. Removing the oath to the Queen in 2006 was appropriate at that time and restoring it is a backward move that I expect will one day again be overturned. This has nothing to do with the Republican debateâ€”it is about the commitment we should demand of members of this House when they are elected as representatives. First and foremost, that commitment should be to their constituents and to the people of New South Wales. I oppose the bill.