Opposition offers second chance to vote for republic

IN A LAST-DITCH attempt to entice the large numbers of Australian voters who want to be able to elect their own president, the opposition leader, Kim Beazley, pledged yesterday that he would stage a second referendum offering a more populist style of republic.

But Mr Beazley warned that this could happen only if there was a "yes" vote in the first referendum this Saturday, when Australians will be asked whether they want to remove the Queen as head of state.

The other condition that would need to be met, of course, is that Mr Beazley's Australian Labor Party, which is campaigning hard for a republic, would have to win the next general election in 2001. His appeal was aimed at "direct election" republicans, who dislike the prospect of a president being appointed by two-thirds of parliament, as is currently envisaged. These are the voters whose actions will deter-mine whether Saturday's referendum is carried.

But Mr Beazley's intervention may have come too late. The latest opinion poll puts the anti-republicans well ahead, confirming the conclusions of other polls and suggesting that the republic is, for now, almost certainly doomed.

The Newspoll survey, published in The Australian newspaper yesterday, found that 54 per cent of people nationally are planning to vote "no" and 42 per cent "yes". The poll also concluded that the "yes" case is trailing badly in the two crucial states of New South Wales and Victoria. For the referendum to succeed, it must be approved by a majority of people nationally and in four out of Australia's six states.

Women are proving especially resistant to change. The poll found that only 32 per cent approve of the referendum proposal, with 58 per cent against. Men are evenly divided, with 49 per cent planning to vote "yes" and 49 per cent "no". In every age group, opponents outnumber supporters of a republic. A second referendum question, proposing that the Australian constitution be given a new preamble that recognises the Aborigines as the first occupants of the land, also looks likely to be defeated.

Mr Beazley's promise is that if voters behave themselves and approve the unpopular republic offered on Saturday, a Labor government will organise a second referendum in which Australians will be able to vote on whether the president should be directly elected by the people. In what was in effect also an election pitch, Mr Beazley said: "If there is a "yes" vote, then a subsequent Labor government - assuming we win the next poll - will put a direct election proposal to the Australian electorate for them to consider."

Greg Barns, the campaign director of the Australian Republican Movement, the main republican organisation, said last night that recent opinion polls had fluctuated wildly because people kept changing their minds. "There is an outrageous, dishonest scare campaign being run by our opponents, which has bitten to some extent," he said.

"But people are starting to turn off that now and the momentum is with us."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Sport
Sam Allardyce
sport
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Bob Dylan
art
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?