December 3

New Leader: monarchist to his bootstraps

The chances of Australia becoming a republic any time soon have nosedived with Tony Abbott becoming the Leader of the Opposition declares Phillip Coorey in The Sydney Morning Herald (3/12), “Still a monarchist to his bootstraps”.


….still a “crowned republic”…

The first executive director of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy 1993 -1994, Tony Abbot has never moved from his support for our crowned republic. As he predicted in his recent book, Battlelines, “Come 2020,” he says ““We will still be a “crowned republic”. 



Phillip Coorey points out that Tony Abbott’s predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, the former chairman of the Australian Republican Movement, believed the republic could only be revisited when the Queen's reign ended, a  view is shared by the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.

This reflects a realisation that another referendum is , on present polling, doomed to an even  greater defeat than in 1999.

…silver bullet….

There is no guarantee Australia will suddenly want a republic at the end of the reign; this is yet another silver bullet the republicans are always finding. 

The fact is the republicans are too lazy to work out what they are proposing. Or they are too duplicitous to tell the people of their secret plans to impose a new Constitution and a new flag.

So they are always looking for some silver bullet which will mean a republic will fall into their laps.  Remember when it was Prince Charles’ marriage?

…what makes a successful referendum…


Phillip Coorey points out the “accepted wisdom” that for a referendum to succeed, it needs the bipartisan support of the Government and Opposition.

Even this is no guarantee of success. The Australian people are justifiably suspicious of this sort of political collusion between politicians.


The 1967 referendum to change the relationship or nexus between the Senate and House had this support. The Constitution provides the Senate be one half the size of the house, crucially important in a joint sitting (see the comment below  and an excellent article on the Senate by Nick Hobson which contains some really interesting recommendations).

Both government and opposition supported the change – they could then flood  the House with many more politicians, without worrying about the uncontrollable result this would have on the composition of the Senate.  

But the small Democratic Labor Party  – and some Liberals – effectively argued  the dangers of this measure.  It went to the people with the Aboriginal referendum which enjoyed the strongest support ever recorded. The nexus referendum failed.

The threshold for a successful referendum is as those immortals, Founding Fathers Sir John Quick and Sir Robert Garren prescribed this. This is that the people first engage in debate and discussion on a precise proposal placed before them by Parliament. That is not on some spin doctor written vague phrase. They then must come to the conclusion nationally and in at least four states that the precise proposal is “irresistible desirable and inevitable.”

The republicans have gone backwards since 1999.

…Australians do not want a politicians’ republic, thank you….

As Leader, Mr Abbott has now made it absolutely plain that he would never contemplate a republic, “even after the Queen had left the throne.” ''That was Malcolm's position and I have no plans to revisit it, full stop,'' he said. ''I support the monarchy, always have, always will, not because I'm a royal groupie,'' he said. ''It's a terrific system of government and I challenge anyone to come up with a better one.''

 Phillip Corey recalls that Mr Abbott and Senator Nick Minchin were lead players in the monarchist campaign which defeated Mr Turnbull and the republic referendum in 1999. 

He reports that Mr Abbott has in his office a portrait of Her Majesty The Queen and a framed photograph of John Howard introducing him to her when they were in government. He told Mr. Coorey Mr Abbott said that the ''10-second handshake'' was the only time he had met the Queen.    


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