Monitor: Australian reaction to the result of the referendum in which the country voted to maintain its links with the monarchy

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The Age

MR JOHN Howard has made it clear he considers this matter closed. But whatever he says, theissue will not go away. Although his opposition made it much less likely the Yes case would win, this was not a win for the Prime Minister. Another referendum will now have to wait until we have another prime minister. Mr Howard had the opportunity to unite the country on the republic issue; instead, he chose to divide it. Saturday's vote was not a win for the monarchy. There is majority support for a republic but as yet, no consensus on what form it should take. While believes the model that was on offer represented safe and minimal change, its rejection means another must be found: one that will not jeopardise our parliamentary democracy but is also acceptable to the public.There will need to be more public debate and public education. Much of the apathy surrounding the republic vote can be put down to the failure of our education system to teach the importance of civics, and it is essential to rectify this. This has been an educative process for all Australians, forcing us to think about matters it is easy to take for granted. The challenge for republicans is to keep the republic issue in the public mind. The challenge for politicians is to prevent the defeat eroding national unity and confidence.

The Daily Telegraph

THE RESOUNDING defeat of one version of constitutional change does not mean the central debate has been resolved. Australia has a strong republican pulse. Unfortunately, we have a constitution which is dangerously out of time with that beat. It is inevitable and vital that we will again seek to synchronise the nation's charter document with national sentiment.

The Australian

THE DEFEAT of the republic exposes Australia as two different societies - a confident, educated, city-based middle class and a pessimistic, urban and rural battler constituency hostile to the Nineties change agenda. This schism is not just an obstacle to a republic. It is a threat to a cohesive and successful Australia as it tries to adapt to the globalised economy of the new millennium. The republic referendum leaves Australia in a constitutional twilight zone where it is detached from any real monarchical faith but unable to negotiate a republican future. (Paul Kelly)

Sydney Morning

Herald

THE MODEL rejected was the safest choice for Australia. It might still become the model for change. But nothing will happen without further thought, discussion and eventual compromise. For the moment, the direct electionists must understand what happened. They did not win, they spoiled. While the Australian Republican Movement must accept a more democratic model, the direct-electionists must accept that there are considerable risks involved in their approach. They must adjust their thinking. The deep division between direct-election and parliamentary-election republicans which Mr Howard and the monarchists exploited in Saturday's election will not continue. Mr Howard and the monarchists won the day by insisting that the republic was about models. But they missed the point. The republic is not about models. It is about symbols and relevance. A particular model was voted down, but not the republic, and not the desire of Australians to have their own head of state.

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