As the party's national conference approaches, former Prime Minister Paul Keating says Labor will succeed if it pushes the republican agenda, repeating the mantra that to succeed in Asia we must turn the constitution upside down and shred our Australian flag.
But weren't they trying to do precisely that under his leadership when he lost the election in the 1996 landslide? Why should republicanism grow the Labor Party? A minority of 28% of the nation's youth want it according to research by Morgan polling. the republican movement is but a shadow of itself in the nineties.
Brendan Nicholson reported in The Australian (28/11) that Mr. Keating had explained that Labor had always been the party of conviction while the Liberals were a party of convenience."When the convictions drop, when the reason for being dissipates or becomes opaque, then the people prone to support Labor drift elsewhere," he said."We can't go round and say, 'By the way, we're borrowing the monarch of another country and, by the way, we're sharing her with 16 other countries and, by the way, we've got the Union Jack in the corner of our flag, but we're safe little Australians, we'll wave our flags, he told Channel 10'"The place has got to grow up.
"Things like the republic, the basis of a decent reconciliation, not pretending we have this great continent that is closed to everybody, these are the big issues that will get young people moving, getting people back to supporting the Labor Party."
Mr Nicholson reported that Paul Keating's comments came after a Labor senator urged a NSW Young Labor conference to back his push to get rid of the Queen's Birthday long weekend. The report continued:Matt Thistlethwaite said that would be a symbolic first step towards restarting the move towards a republic.Australians for Constitutional Monarchy executive director Jai Martinkovits said Senator Thistlethwaite should recall that Australians overwhelmingly rejected a republic at the 1999 referendum.Julia Gillard's spokeswoman said the issue of the Queen's Birthday holiday was a matter for the states. The Prime Minister recognised that there was no consensus for a republic at present.