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The ARM - trusting the people to decide by plebiscite

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Lewis Holden says that the ARM's policy of letting the Australian people decide the form of Republic they want is a sign of strength.

Recently, Independent Australia highlighted some of the past actions of some of the opponents of an Australian republic. This was in the context of a number of repetitive demands by the opponents of change for leading republicans – including myself – in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom to resign. Apparently, these calls are part of a "positive action" campaign that is about winning back support for the monarchy.

John Howard proposed having a plebiscite on the model in 1998


I'm not sure if Tristan realises he's essentially calling his fellow countrymen and women cowards—I certainly hope this isn’t his intent. If so, he is tarring others with this cowardly slur that he may regard as his strong allies. John Howard, for instance, though hardly a republican, proposed plebiscites on the republic issue at the opening of the previously mentioned Convention. As I've previously written, it was only because "direct elect" republicans (who joined with the NO case in 1999 to divide the republican majority) abstained in the critical vote on the model to be put to a referendum that Howard's plebiscites proposal didn't go ahead. It's interesting to speculate upon how things may have gone very differently had that critical vote at the convention been defeated: it's my view that Australia would be a republic by now; probably with a directly-elected president. And the Peter Hollingworth debacle would never have happened.

I really do wonder why monarchists are so deeply opposed to plebiscites, when they allege to love democracy. If they're so confident of victory, surely they wouldn't worry about the people's verdict in a non-binding referendum. Moreover, from UMR's extensive 2009 research we know that there are a large number of supporters of the monarchy who also support plebiscites. The opponents of a republic can say they support democracy all they like, but unless they support democratic processes for resolving issues such as a republic, then their claims are hollow.

(If you would like to see other stories by Lewis Holden, please click here.)  
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