September 23

Republic doomed: Herald/ Age / Nielson poll


A poll taken by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age confirms other polling which shows that a referendum on change to a republic- a politicians’ republic- is doomed to a defeat probably bigger than in 1999.

(Unfortunately, it seems that those charged with writing headlines, at least for the Herald and Agence France Presse rushed to a most superficial  interpretation of the poll)

On these figures , even a plebiscite is  on shaky ground.

The fact is that in 1999, the Neilson poll overestimated the republican vote by 12%.

That’s right, they overestimated the poll by 12%.

There are three reasons for this.

·          First, with the exception of the Morgan Poll, pollsters do not qualify the form of republic. The three forms before the people are our present crowned republic and the two forms of politicians' republics over which the republican movement is irreconcilably divided.

·          The second reason is that media commentators, republican politicians and other elites have painted our crowned republic as highly unfashionable, something which no member of the elite intelligentsia could possibly support.

Accordingly people are reluctant to admit their support for the present system to polls conducted by media organisations with a “ passionate” republican agenda : The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. They are inclined not to reveal their true intentions.

For example, they may say they are undecided, which is not the case with the actual vote where few informal votes are cast.

Nielsen pollster John Stirton explained this by arguing that  "yes" voters on the republic tended to feel less strongly about the subject than "no" voters and were therefore more likely to change their minds. "While there may be support for a republic in principle, support can quickly evaporate if the type of republic – the model – is not acceptable to voters."

Whether they are reluctant to tell pollsters how they will vote, or whether "yes" respondents feel less strongly than "no" respondents, the fact is that support for a republic in an opinion poll is likely to evaporate by the time of the real vote.  

·          The third reason for this evaporation of support is that the people have not heard most of the arguments against change.  The media tend to publish the case for change and they will only hear and read the contrary case  during the formal campaign.

Even then, if the situation is as it was in 1999, the No case can expect restrictive access in most of the media.

…the Herald/Age/ Nielson 2008 poll…

The point is, and Nielson agrees, you have to discount the poll reported by  Mark Davis in the Herald on 23 September, 2008.

This did not stop the newspaper pubishing the story under the headline " Republic trumps Queen, " and Agence France Presse reporting it as "Most Australians want to dump monarch."

This says that  Nielson surveyed 1400 voters. The actual question has not been published, nor the margin of error.

The report says that 52 per cent agreed that “Australia should become a republic.”  By comparison 40 per cent said it should not, while the remainder were undecided.


This is a seriously flawed question.

In May 2008, the Morgan poll asked a more precise question, “In your opinion, should Australia remain a MONARCHY — or become a REPUBLIC with an elected President?”

Support for this  the most popular model was only  45% and among those aged 14-17, 23%.

With the 1999 experience, we can therefore discount the Herald Age Nielson poll.

It means that in a referendum similar to 1999, the Yes vote would fall to about 40%.

…why they won’t hold a referendum…   


That of course is why the Rudd government has no intention of holding a referendum.

They can’t do what the WA government did  when the people kept saying No to daylight saving – introduce it on a “trial basis.”

Nor can they do what the Queensland government once did when the people said no to Legislative Council abolition.

They still abolished the Council, but required a referendum before it could be restored.

If the Federal government behaves as it did with the 2020 Summit, it is possible that  in any plebiscite the No  case won’t be  funded, or, more likely, deliberately mismanaged .

The 2020 Summit was based on a gerrymander of which Robert Mugabe would be envious.

After the 2020 Summit, no one should be confident that on this issue  the Federal government will be either fair or competent.

The losers in referendums have even called for an end to the way in which the Yes and No case is sent to the people.

Some suggest an objective assessment should be sent out. No doubt this would be one written by the usual suspects.

It was made very clear at the recent ACM  National Conference, the tenth since the referendum, that there is a united front among the nation’s constitutional monarchists  to expose any plebiscite as the grossly irresponsible deceit that it is intended to be.

Mr Rudd is warned.

[Cartoon by Nicholson from "The Australian" newspaper: ]




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