A new opinion poll, in anticipation of Australia Day, has been undertaken by Galaxy Research for News Ltd, according to a report by Jessica Marzelek on 23 January 2013 in the Herald Sun.
This reveals that even fewer people would vote for a republic if the 1999 referendum were put to them now, with only 33 per cent answering yes.
The report says this compares with 45 per cent who answered yes 13 years ago.
Most of the polls at the time indicated higher support for a republic than the actual vote. This is not a criticism of the polls; it is most likely because people considered that voting in a referendum about changing the basic law of their country was a matter of the utmost seriousness.
The other factor, specific to the republican referendum, was the major propaganda campaign conducted in and by the media and by most of the politicians which belittled anyone supporting the existing Constitution.
The theme of this campaign was that it was up-to-date and modern to be voting Yes, and only old-fashioned, irrelevant dinosaurs would be voting No. Clearly both the media and the politicians were completely out of touch with the Australian people who registered a landslide vote against what was clearly described in the Vote No campaign as a politicians’ republic.
The third point is that in a referendum, unlike a poll or a plebiscite, the details of the change are on the table before the people vote. In a plebiscite, invented by the terrorists and used to great advantage by both Napoleons, the question is prepared by a spin doctor to attract the maximum favourable vote. This is the preferred path of the republicans.
They know that once the details are available, support goes down. The question which they will ask will be along these lines: “Do you want an Australian as a head of state.”
As readers will know, ACM has consistently argued that we already have an Australian as a head of state.
The point is that even if the politicians were persuaded to hold a plebiscite, polling trends have long indicated that this would be lost.
That is why Dr Bob Brown never insisted on a plebiscite when he negotiated the Alliance with Ms Gillard in 2010 which led to the commissioning of a Gillard government. He was able to persuade her to abandon her promise concerning a carbon dioxide tax; he could obviously have had a plebiscite.
The reason why he did not is obvious. This is that polling and focus groups were not only indicating this would be lost, the electorate would see this as a political distraction when the government should be attending to matters of national concern.
ACM has long been arguing that while individual polls are interesting, what is important is the trend over time and across the polls.
As I told Ms Marzelek, the downward trend has been with us for over a decade. It preceded the explanations usually offered by republican elements when they are confronted with what must be a serious disappointment to them. The downward trend was evident well before the Royal wedding and the diamond Jubilee.
The latest polls by the major pollsters were Essential showing republican support at 39% and Morgan showing republican support rising to 43% from a low 35% just before the Queen’s visit in 2011.
A UMR poll commissioned by the Australian Republican movement showed support for a Republic at 48%. UMR, the Labor pollster, has a long record of showing support for a republic at a substantially higher level than all of the major polls, Newspoll, Essential, Galaxy and Neilson.
At the time of the 10th anniversary of the 1999 referendum UMR produced a poll showing support at 59% which made headlines but was clearly an aberration. UMRe uses a different methodology than the other polls, relying, as I understand it, on producing a sample through an online panel. Most other pollsters use telephone polling; Morgan also uses face-to-face polling.
Ms Marzelek questioned ACM and the Republican movement and reported as follows:
“Monarchist David Flint said support for a republic had been down in polls for years, even before the latest royal marriage and the Queen's diamond jubilee. He said people were "peeved" with politicians, but not with the Queen.
“But republican David Morris said the original question had been so flawed, the result was unsurprising. Research last year by UMR showed 48 per cent supported Australia becoming a republic, he said.
“Mr Morris said the question had been off the political agenda for too long and a national conversation needed to happen on the best way to frame a republic.”