One of the lessons of the election is that the voters are just not interested in such issues as a fundamental change to the constitution or a new flag.
(Republicans often say they now wish to keep the flag, but The Age let the cat out of the bag on that when it asked whether anyone really believes that Australia is likely to become a republic without also changing its flag : The Age, editorial, 20 March 2004.)
It was surprising then to read Senator Bob McMullan’s piece in The Bulletin of 2 November 2004. (According to The Bulletin, Senator Mc Mullan quit the Labor front bench after an argument with Mr .Latham.)
The Senator said Labor should return to its past successes and core values, which as a general proposition is quite understandable.
But then he said that issues such as the republic are the ones Labor needs to return to, and that should be done with pride and a sense of moral obligation! Surely the Senator is aware that all of the great Labor leaders were constitutional monarchists. John Curtin recommended not one but two members of the Royal Family to be Governor-General. And polling in the referendum in 1999 indicated that some 40% of Labor voters voted No. Indeed No voters in Kim Beazley’s seat of Brand were nearly 65% and in Mr Latham’s own seat of Werriwa, the No vote was nearly 55% ! The question will inevitably be asked- just how out of touch are the Labor leaders with their own voters.
Alexandra Kirk asked Mark Latham about Senator McMullen’s advice about republicanism on ABC radio on 27 October. Mr Latham replied:
"Well, I advanced that from the very first days of my Labor leadership and set out a program by which in one term of Labor you could move towards a Republic based on decision-making, not by parliamentarians but by the Australian people, in an inclusive republican model.
So we’ve outlined that and advanced it further in the campaign….. Labor stands by those core values. "
If the republican issue were advanced in the electoral campaign, it did not seem to have been reported in the media. It was not mentioned in Mr Latham’s policy speech.
But ACM certainly made voters in selected electorates aware of this. Up to a million pamphlets were distributed on the opposition proposal for a cascading series of plebiscites and a referendum in just one term. And we drew our supporters attention to all candidates committed to our constitution.
All sitting National Party members committed to the constitution were returned, and we were delighted by the election of Barnaby Joyce to the Senate. Only one sitting National Party member failed to be returned- and he did not call on us for our help. You see, he ,Larry Anthony is a republican ,which is rather odd given that the platform of the National Party is very clear on this. The result was that many of our supporters in Richmond decided not to help in the electorate but to work to return constitutional monarchists in Queensland.
There will be more stories on the election campaign in our forthcoming newsletter, which goes to all financial supporters of ACM. In the meantime, ACM would like to congratulate all of the many candidates we supported for their principled campaigns, and their loyalty to the Crown. We would also like to thank all of our people who worked so hard and were so successful in returning constitutional monarchists to both the House and the Senate.
Until next time,