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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.

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…]

John Howard’s Speech to the NSW State Convention of the Liberal Party

This is the text of Prime Minister John Howard’s speech to the NSW Convention of the Liberal Party.

Text of John Howard’s speech to the NSW Convention of the Liberal Party.

John HowardThank you very much Michael for those very warm words of introduction. To Shane Stone the Federal President, Kerry Chikarovski, the Leader of the New South Wales Opposition, to my many ministerial and parliamentary colleagues and most importantly of all my fellow members of the New South Wales Division of the Liberal Party.

Not surprisingly I would like to share with you this morning some thoughts on the past year and also some ideas about the year ahead at a national political level. But I would like to start my remarks this morning by addressing an issue that is very important to the future strength and survival of the New South Wales Division.

I want to congratulate the Executive of the party here in New South Wales for the decision it took last night to establish a committee of management to run the affairs of this party in the months ahead. [Read more…]

Howard and Costello in Conflict as Republic Referendum Hots Up

The battle between monarchists and republicans has taken a new turn as Howard government ministers adopt increasingly belligerent positions for and against the referendum due on November 6.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, issued a major statement to his Bennelong constituents earlier this week outlining his arguments against a republic.

This was followed by a speech from Treasurer Peter Costello that rebutted Howard’s argument point by point. [Read more…]