It is not as if Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull needed to open his mouth to change feet, but it seems he has. After being hammered with facts related to the declining youth crime rate in Melbourne, which he indicated was increasing1, he has now come up with another brain fart which beggars belief. His latest gaffe is to have another non-binding postal vote to see if Australia is ready to consider thinking about having a referendum to possibly become a republic2. It would be hard to dream this stuff up for a satire, let alone as policy.
The wasteful, divisive postal vote on same-sex marriage, which blew over $80 million determining that the proportion of Australians in favour of same sex marriage was precisely the same (within statistical error) as in previous opinion polls3. It is highly likely that the same will apply to such a device on the republic question, with another $80 million going up in smoke at the same time. A most recent Australian Electoral Study (2016) gave support for a republic at 53%, while an Essential poll indicated that 44% of the population supported becoming a republic, while 30% of the population opposed it4. It also seems that the majority of parliamentarians in both houses are in support of becoming a republic.
I suspect the reason Turnbull has flown this kite, is so he can defuse the issue, because Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten has flagged he will put to a referendum in his first term should he form government. In addition, Turnbull probably suspects some sort of a popular vote is the only way he will be able to avoid the legislative constipation caused by the far right of his party as he was forced to do with the same-sex marriage postal vote. It is a way to shut Tony Abbott up, for the benefit of Malcolm Turnbull, but at our (the taxpayers’) expense.
In the same way that the religious nutters lied through their teeth during the same-sex marriage debate5, monarchists will fill the airwaves with all sorts of lies regarding ‘it’s attacking our way of life’, ‘it’s changing our system of government’, ‘it’s a politicians’ republic’,’ it’s a mates’ republic’. These, of course, are all non-arguments, but that is all the monarchists have, and it will cost us many millions of dollars to find this out.
It seems this brain fart has now dissipated. There apparently will be no postal vote this year.