The 1999 referendum should have been a reality check to all who wish to change Australia into a politicians’ republic and to shred our flag.The republicans had all the advantages – the media, most of the politicians, money. As Gough Whitlam said to Malcolm Fraser in their celebrated advertisement referendum advertisement, “It's time, Malcolm, it is.”
The republicans conceived and paid for this. I am surprised they did not send us the bill – it brought so many votes to our cause. Thank you, my dear republicans, you have served us well.
Before the referendum it became clear from polling undertaken by the Vote No committee that support was weaker not only among the old, but also among the young.
…republican support trending down…
A few years after the referendum support among the general population for a vague and defiant politicians’ republic peaked and began to decline.
That has been the trend to date so that now support for a vague and undefined politicians’ republic is trailing in the 30 percentile range, as the recent report from Roy Morgan Research tabled at our Melbourne National Conference demonstrates.
…referendum vote would be lower….
The vote in any referendum will be lower than this for two reasons.
First, pollsters confirm ACM's conclusion that the crucial aspect of the polls is not support for the monarchy, it is support for a vague undefined republic. In other words, we can assume that the uncommitted will tend to vote no in any formal vote. Either they are genuinely undecided or they do not wish to reveal their vote.
Second, when the details of the politicians’ republic are revealed and debated – as they must be under our superb Constitution – support will crumble away.
This suggests that in a referendum, the republican vote would now be in the low thirties or even the twenties. Professor Craven – the leading republican constitutional lawyer thinks a model with a president elected by the people would be a bigger disaster for the republicans.
…politicians abandon republic…
The politicians have woken up to this and realise that they were taken for a ride by the republicans in the 90’s who assured them that republic was both inevitable and would be achieved before the end of the 20th century with the flag changed after that. As one leading republican politician in the government told me, he now hopes that his children will see a republic…”one day”.
The politicians have accordingly declared that they will not push their republic during the present reign.
This is for two reasons.First, the polling and focus groups are telling the politicians that a referendum would be doomed to a greater defeat than in 1999.
Second, the polling and focus groups are telling them not to touch the issue with a barge pole. The electorate would be hostile to politicians who push their republic when there are so many issues that people believe they should be dealing with.
…exceptions and stunts…
There is one exception among the politicians and that is Dr Bob Brown, the Greens leader. He believes that by raising a republic he is speaking for his constituency. He too knows that a referendum would be lost, but that does not matter. He has nothing to lose. The point would be made to the inner-city elites where he has his strength.
And as for the media republicans, they too know that the project is doomed. That will not stop the more passionate from campaigning.In other words the republicans will be given media time for the no doubt many stunts which the republicans are planning.
In 2012 these may begin on Australia Day, the birthday of the nation.
Even if there is no stunt, the republicans who run the celebrations will be stressing that it's a day for a party, and not a day to remember that this was the day on which the nation was founded on those fundamental principles which still prevail today – the rule of law, the English language, our Judaeo-Christian principles and the institution which gives leadership beyond politics, the Crown.