Does this signal an end to the millions and millions which have been poured into this folly? The government has decided not to proceed with the republican proposal which was the central decision of the 2020 Summit.
So what was the point of rigging the attendance at the Summit to produce a 98% majority and plenary standing ovation in favour of a republic? The government was no doubt embarrassed that Summit was so mismanaged the leading republican Professor Robert Manne said it was like a Mad Hatters Tea Party.
The key resolution was based on a basic misunderstanding of the constitutional system which a constitutional law student would have easily identified.
The resolutions of the Summit on moving to some sort of politicians’ republic have been since amended, by whom we do not know. The latest version is:
“Stage 1. That a plebiscite be held on the principle that Australia become a republic and sever ties with the Crown.
Stage 2 .This is to be followed by a referendum on the model of a republic after broad and extensive consultation. Be celebrating the fifth anniversary of the republic by 2020”*
The government said it would respond to the Summit recommendations at the end of last year. But according to media reports, the government have been sitting on this since Christmas.
The government belatedly announced on 22 April that it “recognizes the priority placed on constitutional reform by the community. The government is committed to ongoing reform of our Constitution where appropriate and will draw on the input of the Summit in thinking about future possible proposals for constitutional change.”
This of course is meaningless.
On two occasions before seeing The Queen, Mr. Rudd has quite discourteously and arrogantly declared that Australia “will” become a republic. But he also says it’s a low-order issue.
The point is the Prime Minister knows that the people do not want change. Polling indicates support for a politicians’ republic has fallen to its lowest levels for many years, particularly among the young.
Only a few fanatics want the instability and expense of a cascading series of Federal and State plebiscites and referendums on the constitution and the flag.
The Foreign Minister has said there is no point proceeding on a politicians’ republic during the present reign. He has no doubt said this with the prior approval of the Prime Minister who actually runs the nation’s foreign affairs.
It is of course unlikely that either the Prime Minister or the Foreign Minister will be in office at that time. This silliness was fun for the republicans while it lasted. The government’s response is in easily decipherable code.
No doubt through gritted teeth it concedes reluctantly that the politicians’ republic is if not dead, comatose and that there is little hope for a recovery.
*[ The original resolutions are posted below]
* The Summit’s original resolutions were:
Stage1. Introduce an Australian republic, via a two-stage process, with Stage 1 ending ties with the UK while retaining the Governor-General’s titles and powers for five years.
Stage 2: Identifying new models after extensive and broad consultation.