The Mate for a Head of State campaign was launched by leading republicans in 2005 to raise public interest and support for a vague undefined politicians' republic.
We have only just learned that in addition to “rounding up the usual suspects”- to use those immortal words uttered by Claude Rains as Captain Louis Renault in the film Casablanca – the republicans had a brand new source of support for this campaign.
This was GetUp!, the political electronic campaign based on an American model and lavishly funded from there and then from certain trade unions.
…2020 Summit gerrymander…
This was to prove important four years later in 2009 at the 2020 Summit, where GetUp! cornered 10% of all the places. In a gerrymander worthy of Robert Mugabe, the Rudd government appointed nobody – not one person – from ACM or any other constitutional monarchist organisation. But in the 1998 Convention elections, five groups had been elected.
In fact only one person voted No to the republican proposal on the 2020 Summit's 100 person governance panel. He was Senator George Brandis, who was appointed, we think, because they wrongly assumed he was a republican.
(The 2020 Summit actually resolved to adopt a republic by first ending our constitutional links with Britain. But they ended in 1986. So what did they do when ACM and 2GB's Alan Jones pointed out how ignorant the 2020 Summit republicans were? They surreptitiously altered the minutes several days later.)
And they want the people to trust them with the constitution? Would you trust them with a scratchy lottery ticket?
….Mate for Head of State – no one came….
GetUp! announced in its 2006-07 Annual Report that among the campaigns its members attended that year was “the push for Australia to become a republic “ in the Mate for a Head of State campaign.
In that report , GetUp! claimed a membership of around 120,000 – not as large as the over half a million they now claim – but still substantial .
Widely reported in the media, the Mate for a Head of State campaign turned out to be a most embarrassing failure.
The high point of the campaign was to be a series of “sausage sizzles” on the Sunday before Australia Day, 22 January 2006 with the leading one overlooking Bondi Beach.
And what publicity they had had in the media! It must have been worth a fortune.
On the appointed day the republican movement’s big guns duly arrived for their sizzle, commandeering the only public barbecues at the end of the beach. So who turned up? An observer told us forty six, and a journalist who interviewed me for The Australian said “about fifty” – including the republican big guns and the media!
Hardly anyone, it seems, notwithstanding the massive publicity. Not even for a free sausage!
And in the meantime, crowds were queuing up a few yards away for a sausage sizzle at the North Bondi Surf Club. But these non-republican sausages weren’t free- they had to pay $1.30 for one sausage.
So where were all those GetUp! members? Not that interested it seems. Certainly not, as republicans so often describe themselves, "passionate".