July 15

A ticking timebomb for republicans


From the Australian’s 50th Anniversary republican poll, republicans should prepare themselves not only for the reign of King Charles II but also King William V and King George VII.

The latest Newspoll is consistent with two trends which have long been apparent in all the major polls on this issue.

The first trend is that even before the young Royals became so prominent there has been since the referendum landslide defeat in 1999 a decline in support for a republic.*

The second polling trend, one from even before the referendum, is that the young have been less supportive of change than the middle aged.

This has curiously escaped the republican movement who believe they have the youth vote in the bag. Senator  Roxon famously boasted that no new monarchists are being born. The current ARM director David Morris even claimed recently on 3AW that every poll over the last 30 years showed the young are the most republican. To hear the 3AW interview, please click here.

… Bad news for republicans …

There are two pieces of worse news for the republicans. Until recently the elderly were most opposed to a republic. This position is now under challenge from the young, with some polls indicating the young are now the least supportive of a republic. Newspoll has them neck to neck.

The second bad news is that Newspoll reveals there are fewer passionate republicans among the young than in any other age group. There are only 17% “strongly in favour” of a republic, compared with the 24- 25% in the other age groups.

That that really is a time bomb for the republicans.

What will really disturb our republican politicians is young peoples’ opinion about their favourite republican model – the one where the politicians and not the people choose the president.

A miserable  8% of our youth agree with this – by far the lowest of any age group.

This no doubt reflects the extreme distrust of politicians among the nation’s youth.

So why is a republic on the nose among the nation’s youth?

The republicans say it’s all because of the celebrity value of the young royals.

That’s a facile and glib explanation. It just doesn’t hold water.

… Not about personalities …

It should be remembered that in 1999 the ARM accused the monarchists of ”not mentioning the Queen”.

But we had made a conscious decision that we would argue the case on constitutional issues rather than on relying on the well known personal qualities of the Sovereign.

If you look at our position in the 1999 Yes/No booklet it will be seen that the No case was essentially about the constitutional checks and balances on the politicians.

This was summed up in our  argument that the 1999 Keating Turnbull republic would have been the only one in history where it would have been easier for the prime minister to sack the president than his cook.

The president would be the prime minister’s puppet.

This distrust of the politicians and the refusal in 1999 to give them even more power  is probably having a stronger impact now.

Without doubt the examples of massive corruption, profligacy, maladministration and broken promises have led to a massive fall in confidence in the nation’s mainly republican politicians.

By way of contrast, the Royal family and our viceroys present outstanding examples of exemplary behaviour.

In addition it should be remembered that will support for a vague undefined republic was already falling before the young Royals made their present impact on the Australian scene.

… Service, Duty and Honour …

Of course the Royal family generally has strengthened support constitutional monarchy. The Queen on her last visit was greeted by crowds everywhere. The young Royals are equally popular.

This is not because of some celebrity status as if they were film stars.

All of them are greatly respected because Australians realise that they are not playing the roles they do to collect some golden handshake, politicians’ superannuation or other perks of office.

Australians recognise in each member of the Royal family a sense of service whether that be in the Armed Forces, in charitable work, in service to the poor and underprivileged  and just the way in which they fulfil their royal functions.

And when Australians compare that with so many of their politicians they increasingly say No to some politicians’ republic.

Even for those Australians who don’t see the constitutional importance of the Crown, many if not most have clearly come to the conclusion that this institution is benign and does them no harm.

The fact is Crown threatens no one –  except the most delinquent politicians.

*Note 1: In a referendum the undecided overwhelmingly vote No, as happened in 1999.

Note 2: Indication of support for a republic in a poll is likely to be at least 5 or 6% higher than the vote in a referendum where a precise model must be on the table. This is because proponents of change naturally have the first say. It is only as vote approaches that the electorate hears the warnings from the No case. At about the same time republican divisions emerge about the model.


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