Barbara McGarity on the Mate for Head of State Campaign

Comments contributed to GetUp online, which also supported Mate for Head of State

“I am appalled that GetUp or anyone else would sanction the term “Mate for Head of State” for a campaign to have an Australian as Head of State. I was involved in the organisation of a Women’s Convention on the republic shortly before the fiasco at which Howard managed to scuttle the last formal move to a republic. And I can tell you that women will feel so strongly about this dreadful term “mate” that they will decline to take any interest in the campaign, and might even vote against a republic that is displayed as a boys’ club.

“Mate” is a term about males (mostly of a certain socio-economic grouping”. Women are not mates, yet they are half the population of Australia and we are talking about an Australian for head of state. The name “Mate for Head of State” should be changed. “Why not the simple, descriptive “Australian Head of State”?)

Keep the “mates” for around the barbeque and in the pub.”

These comments appeared on Ausfem-Polnet

“I don’t know what sort of fools are currently active in the republican movement, but they think they can revitalise their campaign by calling it a “Mate for Head of State”. This will antagonise many women.....(reference to GetUp’s support).

I have just asked my teenage granddaughter who uses the word “mate” and this is her frank reply: Steve Irwin, uneducated politicians and men who are trying to appeal to country bumpkins.”

Here is Barbara’s unpublished letter to The Sydney Morning Herald

Dear Editor

It is beyond belief that the organisations pressing for an Australian republic should call their campaign “Mate for Head of State”. Nobody has ever called me a mate, and none of the women that I know use the term. Mates are men. Australians are both men and women.

Whom do these people talk to? They made a hash of it during the expensive exercise last time, and now they look set to mess it up again! It is enough to turn most women off voting to have a republic at all.

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Last modified: Jan 23, 2006