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John Howard’s Speech On Reconciliation

  • Listen to John Howard’s Speech on Reconciliation to the Sydney Institute (35m)

Victoria Becomes a NO State – Referendum Fails In All 6 States

Counting of postal and absentee votes has seen Victoria fall from a narrow YES vote to No in the republic referendum conducted last Saturday.

All States and Territories have recorded a drop in support as postal and absentees have been counted, confirming a long tradition of such votes tending to the conservative or No side of the political debate.

As a result of Saturday’s two polls, Australia has now experienced 44 referendums since Federation, of which only 8 have been passed – a success rate of 18%.

Republic Referendum Results
Updated 10/11/99
State YES % NO %
New South Wales
Western Australia
South Australia
Australian Capital Territory
Northern Territory



The referendum for an Australian Republic has been defeated.

The most recent figures show that 54.72% of the electorate voted NO whilst 45.28% have supported the republican minimalist model in yesterday’s referendum.

Voters in the Australian Capital Territory supported a republic, but Victoria is the only State to record a narrow (50.10%) yes vote.

Republic Referendum Results
State YES % NO %
New South Wales
Western Australia
South Australia
Australian Capital Territory
Northern Territory

The referendum on the Preamble has fared worse, with support from only 39.88% of voters. No State or Territory has voted in favour.

Preamble Referendum Results
State YES % NO %
New South Wales
Western Australia
South Australia
Australian Capital Territory
Northern Territory

Speaking after the result became clear, Australian Republican Movement chairman, Malcolm Turnbull, said the blame for the result lay with the Prime Minister, John Howard, whom he said had “broken this nation’s heart.”

Turnbull said that republican supporters had done “what was right.” He told supporters that today was the proudest day of their lives, and when their children in years to come wanted to know why the Queen of England was the Australian Head of State they could proudly say they had voted for an Australian Head of State on November 6, 1999.

Opposition Leader Kim Beazley last night promised to revisit the republic issue, saying it was vital that the issue be taken out of the hands of its enemies.

Today, Beazley talked of an indicative plebiscite in conjunction with the election after next, followed by a vote on a specific model. This process could take up to 8 years.

  • Watch Malcolm Turnbull speak on the referendum result:

Kerry Jones, speaking to monarchist supporters, claimed victory in the referendum, praised republicans as “good Australians”, called for national unity in the lead-up to the centenary of Federation. James Blundell gave the assembled supporters a rendition of the NO campaign’s song.

In the other poll yesterday, the Labor Party’s Anthony Byrne comfortably won the Holt by-election with 72.97% of the two-party-preferred vote.

Victorian and NSW Electorates Dominate YES vote

Nov 6 – 42 of Australia’s 148 Federal electorates, 28% of the total, supported the Yes vote in today’s referendum. 18 of these electorates (42%) were in Victoria, the only State to have recorded a narrow Yes vote. 15 Yes electorates were in NSW (36%). Only 7 electorates outside NSW and Victoria supported a Yes vote. There were 25 Labor electorates and 17 Liberal electorates that voted Yes.

This is a complete list of Federal electorates that voted Yes:

  • Tasmania (1/5): Denison 53.47%
  • South Australia (3/12): Adelaide 57.12%, Boothby 52.42%, Sturt 54.51%
  • Western Australia (1/14): Curtin 56.21%
  • Queensland 2/27: Brisbane 58.17%, Ryan 55.65%
  • Victoria (18/37): Aston 52.39%, Batman 62.41%, Bruce 54.86%, Calwell 54.52%, Chisholm 58.33%, Deakin 53.70%, Gellibrand 57.99%, Goldstein 57.70%, Higgins 64.23%, Hotham 54.95%, JagaJaga 57.5%, Kooyong 64.93%, Maribyrnong 57.51%, Melbourne 71.50%, Melbourne Ports 66.17%, Menzies 60.91%, Scullin 57.02%, Wills 59.71%
  • New South Wales (15/50): Barton 52.19%, Bennelong 54.99%, Berowra 52.58%, Bradfield 56.12%, Cunningham 53.98%, Fowler 52.50%, Grayndler 64.98%, Kingsford-Smith 55.84%, Lowe 57.04%, Newcastle 51.48%, North Sydney 61.75%, Sydney 68.14%, Warringah 54.57%, Watson 55.10, Wentworth 60.34%
  • A.C.T. (2/2): Canberra 62.50%, Fraser 65.04%

Queensland And Country Areas Dominate NO Vote

Nov 6 – Whilst 42 electorates (28%) of all federal electorates cast a YES vote on the republic, by contrast 52 electorates (35%) cast a NO vote in excess of 60%.

Queensland dominated the NO vote, 25 of its 27 electorates rejecting the referendum proposal. Of these, 19 electorates recorded a NO vote in excess of 60%.

Nine electorates recorded a NO vote in excess of 70%. Five of these were in Queensland. Most are outlying or remote rural electorates.

This is a complete list of electorates which cast NO votes in excess of 60%:

  • South Australia: Barker 67.93%, Bonython 66.77%, Grey 68.10%, Wakefield 67.07%
  • Tasmania: Bass 65.71%, Braddon 68.90%, Franklin 61.46%, Lyons 69.66%
  • Western Australia: Brand 66.50%, Canning 67.53%, Forrest 65.39%, Kalgoorlie 62.35%, O’Connor 71.63%, Pearce 62.66%
  • Queensland: Blair 75.27%, Bowman 60.91%, Capricornia 67.67%, Dawson 69.58%, Fadden 63.04%, Fairfax 62.11%, Fisher 60.80%, Forde 68.42%, Groom 72.75%, Herbert 61.37%, Hinkler 69.66%, Kennedy 70.29%, Longman 66.55%, Maranoa 77.25%, Moncrieff 60.80%, Oxley 65.50%, Petrie 61.21%, Rankin 62.32%, Wide Bay 74.66%.
  • Victoria: Bendigo 61.92%, Gippsland 65.68%, Indi 63.35%, Mallee 71.82%, McMillan 63.85%, Murray 70.23%, Wannon 64.77%.
  • New South Wales: Calare 63.43%, Cowper 60.81%, Farrer 66.41%, Gwydir 72.44%, Hume 63.40%, Hunter 63.18%, Lyne 61.71%, New England 67.59%, Page 61.79, Parkes 69.62%, Paterson 60.18%, Riverina 66.81%.

Inner City Voters Cross Party Lines To Support Republic

Nov 6 – The inner suburban and city areas of the Australian capital cities provided the main support for the Yes case in the referendum. Voters in the outer suburbs, rural and provincial areas tended to vote No.

The electorate of Melbourne, held by Labor shadow minister Lindsay Tanner, recorded the highest Yes vote (71.50%) of any electorate in the nation. It was closely followed by Melbourne Ports (ALP – 66.17%), Kooyong (Liberal – 64.93%) and Higgins (Liberal – 62.43%). In other words, two of the ALP’s safest seats and two of the Liberal Party’s safest seats recorded the highest Yes votes. This suggests some correlation between education and income in the result. A less certain pattern is the correlation between Labor-voting electorates and the Yes vote, a pattern most evident in Victoria and the ACT. It should also be noted that Higgins is held by Peter Costello, the dominant government supporter of the Yes case.

By contrast, many safe Labor seats in the western suburbs of Sydney recorded No votes.

Interestingly, John Howard’s electorate of Bennelong recorded a 54.99% vote in favour of a republic, whilst Kim Beazley’s electorate of Brand only recorded 33.50% in favour. The seat of North Sydney, formerly held by prominent direct electionist Ted Mack voted 61.75% in favour of the republican model. All of this suggests a pattern of republican support concentrated in safe Labor and Liberal electorates in the inner suburban and more affluent areas of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, with pockets of support in the inner areas of Brisbane, Hobart, Adelaide and Perth.

Republic Failing, But Result Is Closer Than Expected

Nov 6 – 8.15pm

It is now clear that both referendum proposals have been defeated.

The Republic has about 47% of the vote, whilst the Preamble has 41%. Victoria is the only State where the YES vote stands a chance of reaching 50% – currently the figure is 49.71%.

8.00pm – With 45% of the vote counted, but still no results from Western Australia, where voting continues, the YES vote on the republic is 47%, NO 53%.

The Preamble is sitting on NO 58.9%, YES 41.1%.

7.23pm – The YES vote nationally now stands at 45.2% compared with 54.8% for NO with 14.1% counted. The NO vote is 79% in Queensland. Tasmania is also voting solidly NO, around the mid-30s.

7.15pm – The YES vote has risen to 44% nationally.

Early figures indicate that a 54% of voters in John Howard’s seat of Bennelong favour a republic.

7.05pm – The YES vote nationally has risen to 42% and there is media speculation that the republic may garner a majority overall, but fail to win in 4 states as required by the Constitution.

Tasmania is voting solidly NO. The YES vote in Tasmania remains in the mid-30s.

The Preamble is falling about 5% behind the republic vote.

Republic Heading For Defeat As Referendum Counting Gets Underway

Nov 6 – 6.50pm: Early figures from counting in the referendum puts the NO vote at around 60-61% in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

To succeed a referendum requires a majority of votes in the nation overall and a majority of votes in a majority of States, that is, a majority in 4 States.

The ABC says the YES vote is 40.2% with 1.6% counted.

The Australian Capital Territory is heading for a YES vote, whilst NSW and Victoria are edging up from the 40% mark.

Overall, there appears little chance of either referendum succeeding.

Historic Opportunity: An Australian Republic?

The Weekend Australian, 6-11-99Overnight, the British government has continued the process of abolishing hereditary peers in the House of Lords. In Australia, a historic referendum is taking place today in which voters have the choice of removing links with the hereditary monarch of Great Britain.

Opinion polls suggest that the referendum is heading for defeat. The AC Nielsen AgePoll yesterday had the YES vote at 41%, NO at 47%, and 12% undecided. A Newspoll published in The Australian today has the YES vote at 47%, NO on 50% and 3% undecided. The poll also shows the Preamble question facing defeat. The Australian boldly calls on its readers to vote YES.

If the referendum passes Australia will become a republic on January 1, 2001. If it is defeated tonight, consider the words of playwright David Williamson, in his article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

Tonight the politician haters are going to have their moment, and the monarchists are going to hold the line against the dilution of the master race. And those of us who would like to see ourselves as a nation mature enough to have our own head of state are going to feel ashamed and wonder whether there’s any point to waiting up to see Australia play France.

We had a chance to really make it Australia playing France, but I suspect it will still be the Queen of England’s Australia playing a real nation called France. Could any of us imagine a France so insecure about its own worth and identity that it had a German head of state? And, if it did, wouldn’t we feel it was somehow a little pathetic? Despite the brave braying of John Howard that we are in all respects a nation to be respected, I think the truth is that we are going to look more than a little pathetic in the eyes of the world tomorrow morning.

The Speech That Started It All

Paul KeatingIn June 1995, the then Prime Minister, Paul Keating, rose in the House of Representatives to deliver a speech titled “An Australian Republic – The Way Forward.” The speech committed the then-Labor government to the establishment of an Australian republic by the centenary of Federation in 2001.

Whilst defeated in the general election 9 months later, Keating laid the foundations for the referendum that takes place today. His government’s policy position in 1995 forced the resurrected leader of the Liberal Party, John Howard, to offer a constitutional convention and a referendum, as a means of defusing the republic issue in the election campaign.

Referendum’s Day Of Destiny Draws Near

Daily Telegraph, 4/11/99With polls showing support for the proposed republic failing in all States, campaigning comes to an end in the next 24 hours, setting the stage for the historic referendum on Saturday 6 November.

Opinion polls suggest that both the referendum on whether to become a republic with a president appointed by a two-thirds majority of parliament, and the referendum to insert a preamble into the constitution, will both fail. If so, this will mean that of 44 referendums submitted to the people since Federation, only 8 have succeeded. No referendum has ever succeeded without the support of both sides of politics. No referendum has ever been held before which has not had the support of the Prime Minister of the day.

A breathtakingly dishonest campaign has been waged by the monarchists in recent months. They have teamed up with the direct election republicans and campaigned against “this republic”. The direct electionists, led by Ted Mack and Phil Cleary, have thrown in their lot with the monarchists and held out the possibility of another referendum with a direct election republican model.

The cynicism of this alliance provides valuable political lessons for students of politics. As Kim Beazley pointed out yesterday, any proposal for a directly-elected president would immediately lose the support of most republicans on the conservative side of Australian politics. Direct election would require a review of the relationship between the two houses of parliament, particularly over the question of the Senate’s power to block Supply. Moreover, the prospect of a directly elected president with uncodified powers (the model supported by constitutional hoon Peter Reith) would give rise to an executive presidency at odds with Australia’s Westminster parliamentary traditions.

It is possible to support the referendum’s model for an Australian republic simply because it will remove the link with the British monarchy from our political system. It will remove the link with an institution based on privilege, lineage, gender discrimination and sectarianism. It will mean an already politically independent Australia will take that last step towards nationhood, a step that began with Federation, continued with the assertion of our right to appoint an Australian Governor-General, and progressed through the adoption of our own national anthem, and the abolition of imperial honours and appeals to the Privy Council.

Many republicans would not quibble with the proposition that there is much more that could be done to improve the existing constitution, perhaps even by directly electing a president. But it difficult to view with equanimity the behaviour of so-called republicans who proclaim their belief in the people whilst they simultaneously cozy up to the Australian supporters of the British monarchy, the very same monarchists who have resisted at every turn each and every one of the steps towards independence in recent times.

These are depressing times for republicans and others who look on as fear and misrepresentation are employed by the monarchists and their erstwhile direct election supporters. All of this has been engineered by Prime Minister Howard, complete with the distraction of a banal preamble. As was said of Howard in a different context, he has seized this historic opportunity and shrunk to the occasion.

A poll published yesterday in the Daily Telegraph indicated that only 9% of Australians still regard the monarchy as a relevant symbol, yet many of the same people intend to vote NO tomorrow. Perhaps this is a tribute to the success of the monarchist campaign, but perhaps, as Laurie Oakes discusses in his column in this week’s Bulletin magazine, it is also testimony to a shift in sentiment away from representative to more participatory and direct democracy.

Preamble Referendum: Howard-Ridgeway Urge A YES Vote

Prime Minister John Howard and Democrats Senator Aden Ridgeway have held a joint press conference urging Australians to vote yes to the preamble in Saturday’s referendum.

Transcript of joint press conference held by Prime Minister John Howard and Senator Aden Ridgeway.


Ladies and gentlemen, Senator Ridgeway and I have decided to call this joint press conference to make a joint appeal to the Australian people to vote yes to the preamble on Saturday. And the fact that the two of us have come together at this news conference symbolises the value of the preamble as a uniting element in constitutional debate in Australia.

Because Senator Ridgeway is a self-declared yes voter on the republic and I am a self-declared no voter on the republic. But on the issue of the preamble both of us together are asking the Australian people to vote yes because we see the preamble as a way as we go into the next century of expressing what unites us rather than continuing a debate about what doesn’t unite us. [Read more…]

John Howard’s 2UE Radio Interview with John Laws

This is the text of Prime Minister John Howard’s interview with John Laws on radio 2UE.

Howard discusses the referendum on an Australian republic at some length and outlines the reasons for his opposition.

Transcript of John Howard’s interview with John Laws on radio 2UE.


Prime Minister good morning and welcome.


Good morning John. Good to be on your program.


Thank you. That’s nice of you. Has this whole debate helped shape the succession of the Liberal Party leadership? [Read more…]

Howard Accuses Carr of Undercutting Beazley

Prime Minister John Howard has accused NSW Labor Premier, Bob Carr, of undercutting Federal Opposition Leader, Kim Beazley. Carr yesterday said that he would prefer the existing constitutional arrangements in preference to a directly-elected president.

Carr said: “I would rather live with all the disadvantages of the Queen as head of state than insert into our Constitution all the instability and uncertainty that would flow from an elected presidency that becomes, over time, an executive presidency.”

Kim Beazley has indicated that he would be prepared to consider in government another referendum on directly electing a republican president.

In his statement today, Howard said:

“The New South Wales Labor Premier Bob Carr has completely undercut Kim Beazley’s promise to hold a second referendum for a directly elected president if the Yes vote wins next Saturday.

“Mr Carr, the most senior and successful Labor leader in the country, has flatly opposed any suggestion of a directly elected presidency.

“In the process he has exposed Mr Beazley’s humbug.

“His strong opposition reinforces the point that if the Yes vote wins on Saturday there will be no second bite of the republican cherry. The parliamentary appointment model will be there for good.

“Mr Beazley’s panicky opportunism has been starkly revealed by the NSW Premier’s stance.

“The promise of “Yes and more” injected into the debate at the eleventh hour is a complete illusion. If the Yes vote wins on Saturday there will be overwhelming opposition within all political parties to any move toward a directly elected president.

“Bob Carr has had the courage to call it as it is.”

Republic Referendum Campaign In Final Days

The referendum on the Republic is now in its final days.

The referendum on the preamble has been all but forgotten in the debate over the republic, but Prime Minister Howard and Democrat Senator Aden Ridgeway today held a joint press conference to campaign for a “Yes” vote on the premable.