Tinnies drown expat sorrows

BEER and high feelings were free flowing in the pubs of "Kangaroo Valley" last night. But surprise was in short supply.

Despite a clear lack of monarchist sympathy, few of those gathered in the Prince of Teck - a long-time Aussie hangout in London's Earls Court - expected Australia's referendum on whether to become a republic to have a different outcome.

"If the people had been able to vote directly for the President they would have voted for a republic," shouted David McDonell, 29, above the din of Australian rock classics. "There were so many stipulations and the whole process was so drawn out I didn't really expect anything else. It was all done by the politicians without much public involvement."

His girlfriend, Mandy Greef, 27, welcomed the decision. "I think the current system is working well. The Queen doesn't really interfere and many people have fought for this bond."

Sitting with cans of VB Australian lager, Chris Laidlaw, 22, and Craig Waterson, 27, were philosophical. "It is a generational thing," said Chris. "The older ones will always vote for the Queen."

"We don't feel governed by the monarchy," said Craig. "We are an independent country with the Queen as head of state. We just want a replacement for the Queen who is Australian."

But Kathy Lette, Australian author of Altar Ego, was scathing about the outcome. Speaking from her home in West London, she described it as "going for gold in the Humiliation Olympics".

"As Australia has decided not to get in touch with our Inner Adult, the British will continue to perceive us as the Irish of the Pacific," she said.

Journalist and broadcaster John Pilger said it was "ridiculous to be kowtowing to a bunch of white, Anglo-Saxon German Protestants 11,000 miles away.

"For years polls have shown that a majority of Australian would vote for a republic led by a president elected directly by the people - not one chosen by a political class hardly anyone trusts. By opting for the latter, the republican movement's campaign squandered an extraordinary opportunity."

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