One of the myths pushed by republicans is that the referendum question was manipulated. As we related in this column on 29 May, 2007, it was the republicans who tried to manipulate the question, and almost at the last minute.
Now Michael Hodgman QC MP, whose card proudly announces that he is Her Majesty’s Shadow Attorney-General for the State of Tasmania recalls what actually happened at the 1998 Constitutional Convention:
“Those poor losers – the worst ever in Australian history – the savagely defeated Republicans at the 1999 Referendum, continue to falsely blame Prime Minister John Howard for allegedly ‘manipulating’ the question. What an absolute lie that is ! "As a Member of the Tasmanian Parliament I was ineligible to be elected by popular vote as a Delegate to the Australian Constitutional Convention on the Republic, but I attended the Convention as the Substitute Delegate for the Premier of Tasmania, Hon Tony Rundle MP.
"The Premier was a Republican – I was the Legal Director for Australians for Constitutional Monarchy in Tasmania and had been the main Parliamentary force and Leader in our State in the NO REPUBLIC CAMPAIGN. In the event, the Republicans were absolutely thrashed in our State – they were massacred. "At the Constitutional Convention I heard the Prime Minister say to the Convention that he would put to the Australian people, in the proposed Referendum, the question agreed to be put by the Convention.
" That is exactly what happened. When the Convention voted on the question to be put I said to the Hon Bill Hayden – ‘Well that’s it – the Republicans have just lost the Referendum !’ The Prime Minister put exactly the question the Republicans had asked him to put to the people of Australia in the Referendum and it was resoundingly defeated in every State and Territory and in 73% of the Electorates of Australia.
"The Republicans have no one but themselves to blame – they drafted the question; they argued for it at the Constitutional Convention; they sent it to the Prime Minister to be put to the people of Australia in the Referendum – and that is exactly what he did. Word for word exactly as they had passed it and without any amendment whatsoever. And the Republicans were absolutely thrashed, as they deserved to be.
"GOD SAVE THE QUEEN !”