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A celebrities' republic


The ARM, McKenna says, was not so much a people's movement as a "media offensive by a minority of influential individuals who claimed to have the people's interest at heart".  

The argument that the ARM's approach is elitist has also been expressed by other republicans. In 1995, launching Tony Abbott's book The Minimal Monarchy, poet and long-time republican Les Murray declared:

 "I am probably (seen as) a notorious old republican. Have I turned away from all that suddenly and become a royalist? No....I've become more of a republican lately, out of fear of the ugly, elite republic towards which we are being rushed at the moment ­ the republic of celebrities and hectoring and social scorn."  

An anonymous internal report leaked to the press expressed similar concerns about the ARM's leadership. Later in the same month, The Australian reported that the ARM had come under attack from within its own ranks for being controlled by a "Sydney dinner party set" and being anti-democratic.

A document prepared within one of the movement's state branches also claimed many potential members resent the "brash, egocentric, sometimes overbearing, sometimes bullying personal style" of its chairman, Malcolm Turnbull.

A fundraising function in Melbourne was described as one where the champagne was decent and the canapes okay, but the timing and placement were terribly wrong.

 "It was a night to forget. Mostly because so many republicans cannot bear to remember it without wincing." (Virginia Trioli, The Bulletin, 30 March 1999)

With photographs of the opulent evening splashed across the daily press, she  said the event produced the answer to only one question of any importance: where do osprey feathers actually come from?

Answer, they come from society leader, Susan Renouf.


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