It was two years ago this week that that republicans all around Australia mourned the loss of Professor George Winterton at 61 after a long illness. He was a first-rank constitutional scholar and pioneer of the modern republican debate. Professor Winterton was a pathfinder who took up the republic issue long before it became mainstream, writes Glenn Davies.
PROFESSOR Winterton spent most of his career at the University of New South Wales, was a prominent republican scholar and writer, a member of the Republic Advisory Committee in the mid-1990's, and a key delegate to the 1998 Constitutional Convention that crafted the minimalist republic model rejected in the 1999 referendum. More than anyone else he produced the model that went to the people in the 1999 referendum. He leaves a prominent legacy with the ongoing importance of the republic debate.
I had corresponded with Professor Winterton since my political history honours year in 1988 at James Cook University. I was impressed how he had given encouragement and support for an honours student at another university who was attempting to construct an argument around the history of the Australian republican movement. In 1993 I wrote a chapter in Professor Winterton's book, We, the People. Australian Republican Government. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000's when I was writing my PhD on the middle-class element in Australia's republican history, Professor Winterton was always supportive when we corresponded. I'm sorry that I'll never be able to take up the offer back in 1988 that the next time I'm passing through Sydney to drop in and we'll have lunch.