Prince’s visit sparks
REPUBLICAN Allan Cook is sensing a growing groundswell of support for an Australian republic, despite the enthusiastic welcome Prince William received during a short visit to Sydney and Melbourne last week.
The prince was greeted by cheering crowds at every stop during the visit, made after an official trip to represent the Queen at functions in New Zealand.
But the prince’s visit has rekindled growing interest in a referendum to take another look at whether the Australian public would support the establishment of a republic.
A referendum held in 1999 saw the proposal for a republic defeated.
However, Labor Party sources briefing the national media this week said if Prime Minister Kevin Rudd were re-elected this year, he would hold another referendum on the issue.
Australian Republican Movement (ARM) Bundaberg convenor Mr Cook said the organisation would support any move to hold a new referendum.
“It’s part of the Labor Party platform, although the government has made no commitment to another referendum,” he said.
Mr Cook said he felt a referendum would have a better chance of succeeding next time around.
“The ARM view is that we should not be hoodwinked like last time,” he said.
“We fell into the trap of proposing a model of what a republic should look like.”
Mr Cook said this confused people, which led them to stick with the system they knew.
“The more clear-cut question should be ‘do you support an Australian republic?’” he said.
“The polls are showing consistently that most people support a republic.”
Rather than proposing a model for a republic before a referendum, a successful vote would give the nation a mandate for a conversation to be held over what a republic would look like.
Mr Cook said while the ARM had no complaints against the royal family, it felt the nation would be best served by an Australian head of state.
“That would provide the opportunity for any Australian citizen to become the head of our nation,” he said.
Mr Cook said that he sensed a major proportion of Australians wanted one of their own as head of state.