Don’t campaign!

People keep talking about campaigning for a republic.  It’s inappropriate.   

At around the time we were preparing to hold our 1999 referendum, East Timor was having a referendum on independence.  Before their independence vote, much was made of the need for there to be a large majority so that the will of the people would be clear.  Polling did predict a clear majority and the result of 78% in favour of independence left no doubt about the will of the people.  

Polls in Australia showed that there was a similar clear majority in favour of independence from the British crown.  And yet our referendum achieved only 45%.  After the nastiness and failure of that 1999 campaign, the politicians will (hopefully) be leery of again putting up a borderline proposal for neither of its two possible outcomes is happy.  If it won by a narrow majority, the losers would claim that it was because of media bias.  (And it probably would be.)  There’d be subsequent resistance to changing the structure in the states, particularly if in one or two (Queensland and WA) a majority actually voted against the change.  On the other hand, if it again failed, the monarchy would be secure for many decades.  

We don’t need to do any of that.  Polls go up and down but if the republic were a current political issue about 70% of Australians would again be in favour of severing the ties to the monarchy.  So what do we want a campaign for?  If the majority want a republic, they’ll vote for it, won’t they?  The only purpose in advocating a “campaign” is to advocate again pitting republican against republican, to again promote an angry referendum at which one republican idea is intended to crush another republican idea.  

It is unnecessary.  All that is required is to put a practical proposal and the will of the people would be expressed as clearly as it was in East Timor.    

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