George Bougias, our young ACM International Convenor, spoke to students at Taylors Lakes secondary college on Friday 27 July 2007 at the school's annual Regional Constitutional Convention. Taylor Lakes is in Melbourne's north west and is a culturally diverse area having undergone rapid development and expansion in recent years. George spoke for Australia's Constitutional Monarchy while Brendan O'Connor (MHR) Federal Member for Gorton (Labor) spoke for a republic. Ms Anna Tsekouras from the Attorney General's Office ( Federal) spoke on Australia's Constitution in general and outlined its key features.
In his presentation (pictured) George discussed the strengths of Australia's Constitutional Monarchy which ensures that the Head of State is apolitical and that politicians' power is formally limited. George also highlighted the cultural, historical and economic benefits of a Constitution with a Crown at its centre and noted several examples of successful Constitutional Monarchies around the world including New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Belgium and Sweden. Students were interested in the fact that the Governor-General, an Australian, is the Head of State of Australia's 'Crowned Democracy' and is an impartial umpire.
At the end of the presentations all students voted in a 'referendum' style election.
Australia's Constitutional Monarchy won (by a landslide)! Students were especially impressed with the success of Australia's Constitution to date, saw little or no need to change (especially when republicans had offered no feasible alternative) and did not necessarily want more power transferred to politicians. Many students also thought that Australia was already independent.
This confirms a trend which has long been obvious, even during the 1999 referendum campaign. We have long said that one of the myths the republican movement clings to is that they have the youth vote in the bag. This was put most offensively by a member of the federal opposition front bench, Nicola Roxon, when she said: "There are no new monarchists being born. If we bide our time they will all die off. ” (See this column, 14 March 2006) And in our column of 7 September 2006 “ Support for republic in free fall” we reported on the dramatic fall in support among the young for some sort of vague republic demonstrated in a major survey by the West Australian newspaper.
We learned today from a resident of the New South Wales central coast that driving home on the day Mr Rudd indicated there would be another referendum, and listening to a talk back programme for about one and a half hours, only two callers thought a referendum should be called. Both were males, apparently middle aged. Of the many other callers – and there were many – all were opposed. Several sounded young.
The republican politicians just won’t accept that when the people said No, they meant it.
So congratulations to George Bougias who has long fought for our constitutional system.