It is always interesting to read how others see us.
Angus Reid is a Vancouver based world wide consultant on polling. Its report on the opinion poll in New Zealand, which we recently reported in this column, is perceptive.
The poll indicated that 63% of New Zealanders did not want a republic, and 11% did not know.
Experience in Australia indicates that most of the "don’t know’s " actually vote No in a referendum.
If there were a referendum on a republic in New Zealand, a landslide rejection is likely.
The timebmb for the republicans in New Zealand is that young New Zealanders are MORE opposed than their parents to a republic.
This confirms research in Canada, and in Australia.
So much for the inevitability of a republic!
Angus Reid therefor correctly concludes that few adults in New Zealand would like to alter the country’s political status quo.
They point out that New Zealand’s neighbour, Australia, has been independent from Britain since 1901.
This was the view expressed on the High Court by Lionel Murphy.
In contrast the report says that New Zealand became independent in 1947, a conclusion which New Zealanders could legitimately challenge.
In any event, Angus Reid says that Australia held a referendum on whether to become a presidential republic in 1999.
It accurately reports that the pro-monarchy side won the vote, receiving 55 per cent of all cast ballots.
It is worth stressing the accuracy of this report.
I have seen reports that the Yes case won in Victoria, which is untrue, and that the national vote was close, which is also untrue. It was a landslide, a landslide against a rich, well endowed, republican campaign aided by the most blatant media bias!
It is also said the 1999 referendum question was loaded, which is completely untrue. If anything it was weighted against the No case because it made no mention of the extraordinary provision, unknown in any reublic, which would have made it easier for the PM to dismiss the President than his driver!
Then it has been said the republican model in the referendum was forced on the republicans by the monarchists at the Constitutional Convention.
But the monarchists had abstained in the Convention vote on the choice of the model! And this model was the overwhelming preference of the republican delegates, including the ARM.
According to Angus Reid, the next general election in New Zealand is tentatively scheduled for September 2005.
They say the monarchy is not expected to become a significant campaign issue.
This will come as no surprise- republicanism is obviously a serious vote loser in New Zealand!
(It is worth noting that the republican issue was probably of some influence in certain House electorates and in the Senate result in the 2004 election in Australia.
ACM gave its supporters no advice on how to vote, nor on which candidates to support.
Rather ACM decided on two information campaigns, one directed to certain key electorates, and another to all of our registered supporters across the Commonwealth.
Around a million ACM brochures were distributed in those key electorates, particularly in Queensland.
These gave the voters information on the ARM – Latham plan to require Australians to vote three more times about converting the country into a republic.
One criticism of our action was that this would encourage a republican vote! ACM has more confidence in the good sense of the Australian voter.
The ACM advice to registered supporters contained information on which candidates were committed constitutional monarchists.
This probably had an effect on the decision of some supporters as to which candidates they were prepared to assist.
In NSW this could well have influenced the close result in two seats.)
According to Angus Reid, the current New Zealand Prime Minister and Labour party leader Helen Clark has said it would be "inevitable" for New Zealand to become a republic, but says the topic is not on her government’s agenda.
(Actually it is not ‘her" government, but Her Majesty’s New Zealand Government.
Ministers are not the creatures of this or that prime minister.
They are Ministers of the Crown, and therefore the servants of the people.
When they forget this, they should have to write this out – 100 times!)
Angus Reid says that NZ Opposition National leader, Don Brash, has declared that he would "not be appalled" if the monarchy is eventually abolished.
However, we are apalled that the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal New Zealand Opposition does not apparently respect his country’s rich traditions, and its institutions, but also the very clear opinion of the people.
The comments of these politicians will come as no surprise to Australians.
Republican politicians are frequently out of touch with their voters, and talking about the republic is a useful distraction from their failure or inadequacy in dealing with the real issues that concern the voter.
Until next time,