January 29

A watershed…or a tsunami?

…Malcolm Turnbull’s watershed…

Malcolm Turnbull is, if anything, a realist.

Months before the 1999 referendum, he wrote in his diary[i], "we have Buckley's chance of winning…The problem is nobody is interested."

He knows that the republican movement today is languishing. It is  “on life support,” as some of our more perceptive journalists[ii] have found.

According to the ABC website[iii] on 28 January, Mr. Turnbull says now is not the time to revisit the republican debate. He believes a “ watershed moment” will be needed before another referendum can be considered.

"I know this is not very consoling to many republicans, and this doesn't give me any joy to say it," he said.”

"But my own judgement is that the next time when you would have your best prospects would be at the end of the Queen's reign- so when she dies, or abdicates."

…just tell us about your republic and your new flag…

 Republicans may be consoled into thinking they can sit back and wait for a republic, any sort of republic, to fall into their hands.

It will certainly not be that easy?First they will have to let the people know what they propose.

They haven’t yet, and we are coming up to the tenth anniversary of the 1999 referendum. 

Is it that the republican movement can’t  be bothered to work out what sort of republic or flag they actually want?  Or is it that they’re hiding their intentions from the people?  

Are they deceitful, or are they just too lazy?

As David Koch, the presenter of the Channel 7 'Sunrise' programme pointed out[iv] when the republicans launched their much ridiculed  “ Mate for a Head of State” campaign in 2006, how can the republicans expect Australians to show any interest unless the republicans tell them what they want to put in the place of the present system.

 … the planets in alignment…

 But even if the republicans tell the people what new constitution and new flag they want the people to accept, there are two other conditions Mr. Turnbull has said must be fulfilled.

As he said[v] in 2007, the point is not that the next Prime Minister may be a republican; for a referendum to succeed “all the planets have to be in alignment.”

He has indicated that two further conditions will be necessary.

There would have to be a consensus on the model, and little opposition.

As we said then, the republicans will ensure there is no consensus and we constitutional monarchists will raise significant opposition.

Rather than a watershed, the republicans will need a tsunami.

And in the meantime , we shall continue to preserve to promote and to defend our heritage, the constitutional system, the role of the Australian Crown in it and our Flag. 

[i]Turnbull, Malcolm, Fighting for the Republic, 1999,  Hardie Grant Books, South Yarra, pp IX, 262. See the  book review on the ACM site,  10 August 2004

[ii]See this column “ Leading newspaper: Republic on life support,”   14 June 2007 


[iii] Posted Mon 28 January, 2008 11:15am AEDT updated Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:06pm AEDT


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