The republican movement said that whatever the result in 1999, it would close down. However it has mounted the present and fourth major campaign for an Australian republic.
The movement's theme today could well be “We demand a republic...but we haven’t the foggiest idea what sort of republic we want...”
Within the current republican movement there are really two movements. One favours a republic in which the federal politicians choose the president. How the governors are to be chosen will be either left to the federal politicians or the state politicians.
The other movement wants to have regular elections to elect the president, vice presidents, governors, lieutenant governors and administrators. The significant differences now from the earlier movement which led the “ Yes” case in 1999 are first, the movement is unwilling or unable to specify model or any details of the change it wants. Secondly, the movement is calling for the holding of a plebiscite or plebiscites.
But even on this the republican movement is irreconcilably divided, with one faction wanting only one general plebiscite, while the other faction wanting second plebiscite to choose a preferred model. Those who want to have a general election for the president want a second plebiscite. Conservative republicans want the politicians to choose the president and only want one plebiscite. They fear the people might vote for an election. This fourth movement to remove the Crown relies on the same argument used up to 1999 about the Head of State.
But unlike the last attempt, the republicans are now unable, or more likely, unwilling to specify what sort of republic they propose. The state of the movement has been described by Lenore Taylor in The Queen’s Birthday issue of The Australian Financial Review, 9-10 June, 2007 as “on life support” and by republican David Marr in the Sydney Morning Herald of 21-22 January, 2006 as near comatose (“A whiff of snags and a republic”)The movement no longer enjoys the dynamic leadership and generous funding which Malcolm Turnbull once provided.
....the taxpayer must pay...
A distinct feature of the republican movements both of the 1990’s and today is that the taxpayer is expected to pay not only for change but to work out what the change should be.
Since 1993, there have been six major exercises funded by the taxpayer to work out and achieve the ultimate aim of the republican movement – to remove the Australian Crown from our constitutional system and thus replace our crowned republic with a politicians’ republic.
Millions and millions of dollars have been spent on this endeavour rather than, say, schools, universities, hospitals, pensions, defence and water.