On 13 May 1787, a fleet of 11 ships consisting of 2 Royal Navy vessels, 3 store ships and 6 convict transports left England for New Holland to establish a penal colony. This fleet of 11 ships was known as the First Fleet, landing on their destination on 26 January 1788. New Holland was later renamed as Australia, and 26 January became their National Day, also known as Australia Day. Till today, it is a widely known general knowledge that Australia was a land where England dump their unwanted people – the criminals.
If we go to the streets and ask any random person if Australia is independent, I would say almost all would agree that it is. But as we dig deeper, there are interesting things to be found. From a simple Google search all the way to the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA), we see that Australia has a Queen, and she is Queen Elizabeth II. If you think this name sounds familiar, yes she is also Queen of the United Kingdom. Click the NFSA link above to see a whole series of video on Queen Elizabeth as the monarch of Australia.
Now we look further at what powers she has. Clicking the Google link above will lead us to UK’s Royal Family’s website, where we have the following:
Take note of the sentence boxed in red. As the Queen, she is not involved in the day to day politics, but is represented by a Governor-General, whom the Queen appoints. But what power does the Governor-General have and what does he do? From Australia’s own Governor-General website, which also tallies with the same UK’s Royal Family website, on top of having constitutional duties such as dissolving the parliament and commissioning the Prime Minister, the Governor-General is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Australia’s Defence Force.
We summarise the points. The monarch of Australia is also the Queen of the United Kingdom, who appoints a Governor-General to represent her in affairs of Australia. The Governor-General not only has constitutional powers, but is also the head of their defence force. This Governor-General, who is an Australian holding such level of power, reports to the Queen of the UK. Is Australia really independent, or is it just an autonomous puppet state controlled behind the scenes by the UK?