January 24

Plebiscite doomed too

‘Republic support slides in new poll’, declared the Sunday Telegraph and the Sunday Mail (24/1). This Galaxy  poll found a low 44% are in favour of “Australia becoming a republic.”

Single polls may not tell us much; what is more important is the trend. And the trend is down. 

Support for some sort of vague politicians’ republic has, over the last several years, fallen to around 45%.  There has been one exception to the better known pollsters, Morgan and Newspoll. This is UMR, which polls its sample online. This recorded support for a republic at around 51%, that is, around 5 or 6 % above the other pollsters.

Now when you suddenly get a poll which is 19% above the trend line, a commentator should be wary. Not so some  such as Mike Carlton writing in the Herald on Saturday 24 January, who said of Prince William “ most of us don’t want him or his father to be King of Australia. No wonder his radio audience faded away.

… 59% support for “a “republic was always an obviously  spurious claim…


A poll taken by UMR  for the tenth anniversary of the failed 1999 referendum for a politicians’ republic produced an unbelievable level of support for a vague unspecified politicians’ republic, 59%. This was clearly an aberration, yet the republican movement used it in media releases as if it were accurate. The reliability of the poll was discussed on this site on 7 November, 2009 ( “Signs of desperation: broken hearts and improbable poll”)

Experience in Australia indicates that polling before a debate indicates support at a higher level than occurs at the actual vote. When Labor first announced the four 1988 referendums, polling indicate very high support, around 80%. When the people actually voted support had fallen to as low as 32.91% and as high as a miserable  38.80%.

That is why I told the newspapers that to have only 44% of people in favour of some sort of republic tells us what the republican politicians already know –there won’t be a referendum during the reign of the present Queen.  No matter how many editorials appear in The Sydney Morning Herald or The Age, the politicans are unlikely to put their necks on the block in a drubbing in a referndum or plebiscite.  Given the obsession of many in the media, they could not hide this by holding it during an election. 

I pointed out to the press that the republicans have  gone backwards since 1999. It is as if they are marching down the street saying “ We want a republic…..but we haven’t the foggiest idea what sort of republic we want.”

….a plebiscite doomed too…

 This Galaxy poll for News Limited indicates that not only a referendum would fail. So would a plebiscite. The trend line is going down and from a low base.

The other thing to notice is that those who indicate they are uncommitted are likely to vote no. This may be that they do not wish to declare their support to a pollster, knowing the cause is unfashionable. Many people have told me this is precisely what they do. 


 But the republican movement always puts s great hope in the uncommitted;as with their gullibility with the sudden 59% poll,  commentators should know better.  

The uncommitted in this poll are 29% with support for the constitutional monarchy at 27%.

As for the flag, 45% were opposed to removing the Union Jack from ours 27% in favour and 28% were uncommitted. You can be sure that most of these “uncommitted” would vote No in any formal vote.


The republicans and the commentators who support them were clearly worried by Prince William. This poll will give them no comfort.

And in the meantime, Malcolm Turnbull has re-entered the debate.



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