Bitter republicans seek revenge – not debate

by DAVID DAINTREE – HOW long will King Charles reign over this realm of Australia? I’m in favour of the King, but not particularly optimistic about his future here. 

In 1995, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who was at that time CEO of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy (ACM), asked me to set up a Tasmanian chapter of ACM. 

Politicians came together to endorse the “yes” campaign and monarchists were squeezed by the rich and famous, but never felt “un-platformed” as would be the case nowadays.
David Daintree
Director, Christopher Dawson Centre for Cultural Studies

I found some willing partners in the venture and together we campaigned hard against the move to turn Australia into a republic.

Talks to schools and Rotary Clubs throughout the State, public debates and even TV appearances and letterboxing became a big part of our lives.


Looking back now, I’m impressed by the courtesy that was shown us.

It’s true that all political Parties came together to endorse the “yes” campaign, and that we were squeezed by the rich and famous, but we never felt “un-platformed” as would probably be the case nowadays.

We were warned, right up to the eve of the 1999 referendum, that we were doomed to fail. We approached the actual count with a good deal of gloom.

Everybody knows the rest: the move to change the Constitution by replacing the Crown with a president was defeated in all States.

Our helpers were occasionally insulted at the polling stations in some of the wealthier electorates where republicanism had the strongest support. We were expecting a hiding when the count began. But we won and were both amazed and elated.

If there’s to be a next time – and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s appointment of an Assistant Minister for the Republic sounds like a strong hint – those who favour keeping the existing constitution intact will find victory much harder to achieve.

There are even bigger issues at stake, however, than the legal status of the Crown.

Anti-Christian sentiment has been growing in intensity during the past two decades. Only about half the Australian people claim to be Christians at all, least of all practising ones.

Christianity is under pressure at a number of points. Many jurisdictions have cancelled opening prayers before sessions, and many more have plans to do so.

It is unlikely that another attempt at Constitutional amendment would target only the King; Almighty God figures prominently in the Constitution.

Could modern sceptics, now so numerous and powerful, resist the temptation to tackle the highest hill of all?


A quarter of a century ago, everybody used to tell us, ad nauseam, that “the Republic is inevitable”. I thought such a claim absurd then, and still do – death and taxes remain the only convincing claimants to inevitability.

But we have to concede that a change to a radically republican form of government is becoming more likely.

Australia was once a larrikin nation, and proud of it.

We were independent thinkers, suspicious of authority, disrespectful of people who put on airs and intolerant of pretentiousness. We didn’t like being pushed around.

All that seemed to change with COVID, when we became a docile and timorous people, frightened not only by the disease but by the heavy-handed and too often irrational diktats of our political class.

We submitted to absurd and unnecessary restrictions on our liberty. Though always suspicious of government, we were strangely naive about our governments’ susceptibility to pressure from Big Pharma.

If we do end up as a republic, might we snatch back our former gutsiness and have the courage and originality to apply a name other than “president” to our Head of State?

To my mind that word is very much on the nose, being the preferred title of choice for the head of almost every gimcrack, tawdry republic in the world.

And could we, please, avoid having a “presidential palace” like most other countries? Surely there is a better alternative.

We have become habitual copyists of the United States, so we might prefer to have a “White House” as they do – but I can’t see that loaded term catching-on in the present environment!

Here’s a thought. How about using a term like Governor-General? And he could just live at Yarralumla, not in a “palace,” and not a house of any particular colour.


What I’m driving at is why change the Constitution at all.

The fact is that we are a republic already, and our constitution was deliberately drawn up to make that clear: the word “Commonwealth” was not chosen on a casual whim, for it is simply the standard English translation of Latin Res Publica, as Oliver Cromwell understood perfectly well.

So too, did the founders of Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia!

We were to be a republic whose principal structural model was the constitution of the United States of America.

All the terminology reflects that: the choice of the names House of Representatives and Senate for the lower and upper houses, respectively, ring very differently on the ear from the Houses of Commons and Lords of the old country.

What makes us almost unique, though, is that we were to be a “crowned republic”, a sort of compromise between two patriotic aspirations, the one anxious to maintain the old links in perpetuity, the other focused on independence from the Crown.

This tension between what we might now call royalists and republicans has always been part of our common life, usually maintained with a degree of courtesy and tolerance.

Our two greatest poets perfectly reflect it: the conservative Banjo Patterson and the nationalistic Henry Lawson.

It is not unpatriotic to argue for keeping the old Constitution in place. It has served us well for more than a century.PC

David Daintree

MAIN PHOTOGRAPH:  Tony Abbott. (courtesy ABC)
RE-PUBLISHED: This article was originally published by The Epoch Times on May 31, 2023. Re-used with permission.

1 thought on “Bitter republicans seek revenge – not debate

  1. There is racial selection in our constitution.
    There is racial preference.
    There is a race-based veto over our laws.
    It is called monarchy.

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