Waleed Aly calls for ‘undemocratic’ Indigenous Elder to replace Queen but Carrie Bickmore disagrees 

Waleed Aly has sparked debate with his co-hosts on The Project by calling for an indigenous elder to replace Queen Elizabeth II as Australia’s head of state

The monarchy versus republic debate has been reignited in Australia as the official mourning period comes to a close following the Queen’s death a fortnight ago.

As Australians commemorated the National Day of Mourning on Thursday, Aly suggested an alternative approach having an indigenous elder as Australia’s future head of state instead of 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 is unchanging, draped in history, tradition and ritual.  

‘In short, monarchy becomes a kind of foil to government. It works specifically 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’s as Australia’s head of state. Pictured are  protestors denouncing colonialisation at a Sydney rally on the National Day of Mourning for the Queen

‘It’s powerful precisely because it has no real power. The Queen was loved because she was so frequently silent, so often a blank canvas.’

He believes if Australians are asked to forego the monarch, it needs to be replaced with something more fitting but magical.


Should an Indigenous Elder be appointed as Australia’s head of state?

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‘An Australian President doesn’t offer the sense of constancy, history or ritual we’ll be replacing,’ Aly explained.

‘If we’re going to do this, we need to draw on our own sources of tradition, ceremony and spirituality.’  

He argued the case for having a recognised Indigenous elder appointed as our head of state for life, which already comes anchored in a long history and a culture brimming with ceremony. 

‘One of the great things about some Indigenous ceremonies like Welcome to country, is they’re often informal,’ Aly added.

‘This extraordinary mix of ceremony and informality capture something unique and charming about the Australian character.’

‘We could even call our elder Uncle or Aunty and when our Aunty dies, deep rituals of mourning would already exist, ready for us to embrace as a nation.’ 

Carrie Bickmore (right) disagreed with The Project co-host Waleed Aly's bold proposal

Carrie Bickmore (right) disagreed with The Project co-host Waleed Aly’s bold proposal

 He admitted the office would be racially closed but pointed out so too is the monarchy which is always going to be white and doesn’t extend to white Catholics.

‘It’s also undemocratic which replicates precisely one of the monarchy’s virtues,’ he added.

‘Sure, I can see problems. For example, how would the elder be chosen from among the hundreds of First Nations we have? Does it rotate in a predetermined way? 

‘Our head of state has to be an apolitical figure, confining itself to speaking on areas of mere total agreement. Would the elder face too much pressure to become an activist? 

‘I admit it’s rough but it captures something of the richness and magic of monarchy while being in disputably ours.’ 

Co-host Carrie Bickmore disagreed it’s about the consistency of the monarchy. 

‘We’ve had a Queen for 70 years so all the words of dignity and consistency and all that, it’s all about her for a lot of people,’ she said.

Georgie Tunny added:  It’s an interesting concept of just having something that doesn’t need a precedent right now. 

‘Whether or not something like that could be apolitical, I have my doubts that’s true. I don’t think a head of state could not be political.

Aly admitted his proposal isn’t foolproof.

‘It’s a point of discussion, I’m not presenting it as a solution necessarily,’ he said.

‘But I think there’s something that could be worked on. It literally popped into my head one night because I thought ‘ there’s something there that needs to be preserved.’

Australia commemorated its National Day of Mourning for the Queen, who died a fortnight ago

Australia commemorated its National Day of Mourning for the Queen, who died a fortnight ago

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