The former NSW attorney general, and former Supreme Court judge, Jeff Shaw has joined the few federal politicians campaigning for a republic.
The trouble is, his opinion column, “Finetuning a republic”, in the Sydney Morning Herald on 31 December, 2005, to the extent that it relies on the Morgan Poll, is highly misleading.
It is surprising that the editor allowed such a misleading statement to be published.
So I sent the following letter to the Herald:
Misleading reference to Morgan Poll by Jeff Shaw
Jeff Shaw (opinion: 31/12) claims a Morgan Poll finds (31/12) that support for a republic has risen to 61%.
Not exactly, Mr Shaw, not exactly.
In response to the question,”… should Australia remain a monarchy — or become a republic with an elected President?”, 51% of an Australia wide sample of 622 preferred a model which some republicans now think is their trump card, but which is anathema to conservative republicans .
The really interesting point was that of those under 18, support for this republic fell to 37%, surely a time bomb for republicans.
Respondents were then asked “If Prince Charles were to be crowned King, in your opinion, should Australia remain a monarchy – or become a republic with an elected President?"
Remember this was at a time when the media were continuing their campaign denigrating Prince Charles prior to his marriage.
(Indeed the media has been so biased on this issue that it is highly unlikely this letter will be published.)
It was in this context that 61% of respondents said yes to a republic, a fact which Mr Shaw should have mentioned.
In such an opinion poll, which has an inbuilt margin of error, respondents have not seen the exact changes proposed to the Constitution, nor have they heard the debate which the founders intended before change is made.
In the Morgan Poll of November 1999, 54% said Yes to a republic. In the referendum, more than that said No.
Until next time, in 2006,
and a Happy New Year,