The Leader of HM Australian Opposition, Mr. Kevin Rudd, has now decided that a referendum on a republic would not occur in the first term of a Labor government . This was announced in a report, “Rudd to turn back boat people” based on an interview with The Australian published on 23 November, 2007.
In this report, Paul Kelly and Dennis Shanahan said Mr. Rudd will turn the boats back and deter asylum-seekers, using the threat of detention and the nation's close ties with Indonesia. He announced that a referendum on Aboriginal reconciliation, a separate Aboriginal treaty and a republican referendum would not occur in the first term of a Rudd Labor government, if at all. We note with fascination the rider, “if at all.”We reported in this column on 23 September 2007 a shock London announcement made on behalf of Mr Rudd that another referendum to turn Australian into a republic is to be held within three years, probably in 2010.
We suspect that from the line taken in this interview on the eve of the election, the focus groups and polls are telling Mr. Rudd not to touch republicanism with a bargepole. Is this a recognition that republicanism is “comatose” and “on life support,” as the republican media have described it, or is it being sent off, as ultra republican Maximilien François Marie Odenthalius Isidore de Robespierre was, and by his fellow republicans – in a tumbril to a speedy end?