Bennelong is the famous marginal electorate formerly held by John Howard. Taken by Maxine McKew in the 2007 election, it is certain to be closely monitored in the 21 August election.
Reporter Scott Howlett has asked each of the candidates in the 2010 election where they stood on Australia becoming a republic. The results were published in a newspaper circulating in the electorate, the Northern District Times, on 23 June 2010.
The incumbent Federal Labor MP Maxine McKew said she backed Australia becoming a republic. But Mr. Howlett said that this is clearly not on the top of her "to do" list.
“I believe that an Australian republic is our future and inevitable, but it will not happen until there is overwhelming political consensus on the issue,” Ms McKew said.
“Back in 1999, more than 54 per cent of Bennelong residents voted for a republic although the proposition was soundly defeated both in NSW and nationally.
“I am an admirer of the Queen and there is enormous affection in the community for Her Majesty.
“I can’t see any prospect of a change while she is still on the throne.
“The most important national governance issue at the moment is actually the fresh constructive approach the Rudd Government is taking to relations between commonwealth, state and local government.
“It’s unsexy, unheralded work but it’s more important to how Australia functions right now than a change to a republic.”
Liberal candidate John Alexander told Mr. Howlett that he saw no need for Australia to change from a constitutional monarchy to a republic.
“Australia has grown up with a strong system of government which is based on our traditional links with the Westminster system,” Mr Alexander said.
“Like a child who has grown up with strong parents, they will be empowered to make their own way in the world and make new friends.
“However, they will do so with continued respect for the relationship with their parents.
“I do believe that we should not forget our background and should retain our historical connections.
“On that basis I personally would not support Australia becoming a republic although it is a matter to which each member should make their own decision.”
Greens candidate Lindsay Peters told Mr. Howlett he supported Australia becoming a republic.
“The Greens strongly support Australia becoming a republic.
“An Australian head of state is an important symbol that we are a mature and independent nation.
“While the monarchy has served us well in the past, as our society becomes increasingly multicultural and as we become more aware of the importance our indigenous heritage, it makes even less sense to have the king or queen of Great Britain as our head of state.”
Mr. Howlett said that talk of Australia becoming a republic filled acres of newspaper print towards the end of the last century.
In “Republic Back on Agenda” he recalled that in 1999, Australia went to a referendum to ask voters if they wanted a republic with a president chosen by Federal Parliament
“The proposal which had the backing of former Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull but was opposed by current Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, was voted down.”
“More than 10 years later, the issue of Australia becoming a republic has died down”.
Mr. Howlett said this was until news emerged that North Sydney Federal Liberal MP Joe Hockey had held recent talks with the Australian Republican Movement, curiously putting the issue back on the agenda. ( See report here “Own goals again,” 19 June 2010)