In yet another republican relaunch, the movement’s head claims he has enough support from both sides of politics to encourage the government of the day to put the issue firmly on the agenda.''
The movement’s last major launch was in 2006 for the Mate for a Head of State campaign, which was such an embarrassing failure the republicans don’t mention it any more.
He believes the process to organise another referendum could take as little as 12 months.
This is extraordinary given that the republicans are famously unable to say what sort of republic they want.
Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke gave the keynote address at a $130 a head republican fundraiser – the first the NSW branch of the republican movement has had in many years – on 20 May at Sydney's IMAX Theatre.
As we noted here on 22 April, Bob Hawke has been telling the Prime Minister to hold a referendum (we think he means a plebiscite) which would trigger a politicians' republic at the end of The Queen’s reign. This is a disgraceful suggestion.
According to Helen Pitt in The Sydney Morning Herald on 22 April, “Turnbull an absent friend at republican relaunch”, those attending included the Hawke government education minister Susan Ryan who once famously said that all the republicans would have to do was wait until the older generation died off.
But as we have pointed out regularly here, polling indicates the young are less republican than the Whitlamite generation.
Another leading republican guest was Dr.Meredith Bergmann. On becoming President of the NSW Legislative Council, a photographer from The Sydney Morning Herald happened to be passing her suite just as she was personally taking down the portrait of The Queen.
She was also involved in the removal of The Queen’s portrait from the Strangers' Room, the Parliamentary dining room, for reasons claimed to be related to occupational health and safety and from the foyer, where it was claimed the painting was being damaged by sunlight. In 2008 she was unsuccessful in seeking Labor preselection for the post of Lord Mayor of Sydney. However, when the preselected candidate Tony Pooley, former Mayor of South Sydney, withdrew, she became the candidate. She was not elected..
“So, the republicans are at it again,” writes. David Knowles of Chittaway Bay ( The Sydney Morning Herald 24/5). “If the price of defending our excellent system of government is a referendum every dozen or so years, then keep them coming, and the Australian people will keep defeating them. But it seems an awful waste of energy and money.”.
…. Malcolm Turnbull changes his mind….
In the meantime Ms. Pitt reports that the movement's former chairman, Malcolm Turnbull, was notably absent from the Sydney relaunch.
But a spokesman told her that Mr Turnbull had a previous engagement but he intended to meet someone from the movement next week in Canberra.
In both Australia and London Mr. Turnbull spectacularly returned to the republican campaign in January after losing the leadership of the Liberal Party. He had previously said this could not be revived during the present reign, unless a model was agreed and provided opposition was minimal.
Mr. Turnbull said he favoured another referendum preceded by a three part plebiscite, and he could now live with a directly elected president.
He had strongly opposed this at the 1998 constitutional convention.
Mr. Turnbull has since changed his mind about contesting the federal election. Mr. Abbott has promised to restore him to the front bench after the election.
Mr. Turnbull would know that the last thing the cabinet or shadow cabinet would agree to would be to promote a politicians’ republic. Nothing would more divide both the Coalition and the Liberal Party, especially the rank and file, than this.
In the meantime the Labor Party knows from its 1999 experience that there is little support for a politicians' republic among Labor voters.
But a proposal for a referndum or a plebisicte could always come from a leader fearing defeat and needing a distraction.