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The dangers of poorly-proposed polls and referenda
The dangers of poorly-proposed referenda on republicanism appear to have been well demonstrated by our Australian brothers and sisters. Following Queen's Birthday Weekend, Sydney's Daily Telegraph published this column by David Penberthy. In it, he focuses not on what Australians want for republicanism, but only on what the incumbent Prime Minster appears to want.
Mr Liddelow should probably resign himself to the fact that he will not see an Australian republic in his lifetime. We have a prime minister [Julia Gillard] who was a complete firebrand throughout university and spent her early parliamentary career as a key member of Victoria's radical socialist left faction. [...] If we can't even get the matter [of Australia becoming a republic] discussed with a Labor left faction MP as PM, then we should probably admit that so close to the comprehensive failure of the referendum vote, there is absolutely no prospect of the issue being pursued at all within the foreseeable future.
My quote from the column suggests it is very difficult for Australia to become a republic without the support of the incumbent PM. This appears to be partly because of the result of the '99 referendum. Readers may recall, the referendum proposed a system of an indirectly elected President who could be dismissed by the PM. In spite of its somewhat limited form, the referendum was still reasonably close (about 45 to 55%, according to Wikipedia).
That the '99 referendum now makes Australia becoming a republic more difficult indicates it was actually very damaging to republicanism there. Might someone say (I do not know enough about republicanism in Australia to make the statement, myself), the referendum put off Australia becoming a republic by twenty years? This must be a strong argument for our Republican Movement to do its utmost to avoid anything like the 1999 Australian referendum. Do readers think the Movement should start making demands on the questions of referenda, or even just of polls, before they can be considered tests of republicanism in NZ?