Earlier this year, John Warhurst of the Australian Republican Movement, said the Diamond Jubilee had little public appeal, according to a recent report by John Huxley in The Sydney Morning Herald (26/5) He added: ''I don't think Australians care. I think they care less and less as years go by. There's increasing republicanism.”
Prof Warhurst has obviously not been following the opinion polls ACM has been featuring regularly on our website. If he had, he would have seen that – one rogue poll excepted -the trendline across different poll is that over the last decade or so has been downwards. Rather than there being "increasing republicanism” all the evidence shows that there has been "decreasing republicanism”.
When we requested the nation’s oldest polling organisation, Morgan Research, to present a paper on this and to take a new poll in time for the Royal last year, this indicated that support had fallen nationally to 34%. It was even lower among the young and recent immigrants.
It has to be remembered that this is not a vote on a specific form of politicians’ republic. As soon as this is put the people – as our Swiss style referendum requires – the Republican vote splinter,s whatever the model. Further, experience shows that polling invariably exaggerates the actual vote in referendums. People are obviously more careful when they come to the real vote.
If we add the fact that the trend line has long beendown, and the favourable circumstances of the Diamond Jubilee, it is likely that national support for a politicians’ republic is now in the low 30s or even 20s.
From what we saw in the last poll and in every other poll where such breakdowns are available, the result would be worse among the young.
“Equally predictably, Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, which is staging a diamond jubilee gala featuring the English National Ballet, on June 11, is disappointed.
''’We're (i.e. the federal government is) really not doing terribly much, I'm afraid,’ says Professor David Flint, the ACM national convener. ‘'At least, we'd have liked the government to strike a special jubilee medal. But the federal government is not terribly attached to the monarchy.’' He pointed to celebrations elsewhere in the old empire.
“Canada, for example, declared public holidays, designated an official Jubilee Week, struck 60,000 medals, and presented the Queen with an early birthday present – a platinum broach, featuring a maple leaf and 60 individual diamonds.
“Mr Huxley writes that the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, a former executive director of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, has been careful not to make a divisive issue of the jubilee.
“In a recent radio interview, he admitted that, yes, he was disappointed there didn't seem to ''be more institutional “commemoration''. But the important thing was that ‘'today of all days, we hold her in great respect and affection’'.
The Queen was a model of duty and service, he said, pointing to 60 years in which 11 Australian prime ministers and 17 opposition leaders had come and gone.
''’She has been an absolutely exemplary individual. It's hard to think of someone who has been more assiduous in serving the public of the various countries of which she is Queen.’
“Whatever their views on the republic and the monarchy, few Australians, surely, would disagree with Abbott,” s Mr Huxley concludes