ARM Media Statement – 29 August 1999

Republicans challenge No advocates to tell the truth

Tell Australian why we are not good enough for Head of State office, says ARM

Those opposing an Australian replacing the Queen at November’s republic referendum have been challenged to tell the truth to the electorate instead of telling lies about the powers of the Prime Minister, the flag and fantasy presidential palaces, and tell the People why King Charles III and his children are better than Australians and therefore more suitable as Head of State.

Speaking at a Town Hall address in Ballarat today (part of The Australian’s series), Australian Republican Movement deputy chair, Wendy Machin, said monarchists and other No advocates had to “fess up.”

“They need to tell the truth to Australians about why they really want the British monarch to remain our head of state.” She also welcomed comments by former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, supporting an Australian head of state and Yes vote in November.

“Monarchists now know that they cannot defeat the appeal of an Australian as our head of state to Australian voters,” said Ms Machin. “So, they are resorting to bogeyman tactics to scare Australians into voting “No”, when they know very well that their arguments of constitutional disaster in a republic are either wrong and alarmist, or just downright dishonest.

“These tactics are more in line with some winner-takes-all political campaign, not a serious public discussion of a major issue of national identity and constitutional integrity.

“Should this increasingly popular notion be defeated in November and we wake to the British monarch as our head of state for the future, I think the Australian people will feel angry and even bitter if they perceive the outcome was won with lies and trickery.”

Ms Machin pointed to “especially silly” dishonest comments by some No campaigners that the republic will produce a Prime Minister with more power than now, able to sack a President more readily than sack his own gardener. “This is especially dishonest and makes you wonder whether the people saying this are just simply desperate, silly or genuinely telling lies.

“How can the dismissal powers proposed be so dreadful and give the Prime Minister too much power, when they are exactly the same powers the Prime Minister has today, and part of a Constitution monarchists claim is the best in the world? So which is it – too much power for the Prime Minister or part the best system in the world which they say should not be changed?”

Ms Machin said the real issue is – even if the No case wants to avoid it – about a choice between an Australian or a British monarch as head of state. “We challenge the No case advocates to look Australians in the eye and tell us why one of us should not be the head of state of our own country which we love and in which we are proud to live, work and make even better.

“If the No advocates are proud to have a foreigner remain our head of state and find comfort and feel more Australian by having Charles III as the next King of Australia, tell us why. Own up.

“But, don’t treat us like fools by trying to scare us like some modern day Nostradamus, predicting doom simply because an Australian citizen may replace the Queen as our Head of State. Tell us why an Australian can’t do the job. What is it about us that you think makes us unfit to run our own affairs?”

Ms Machin’s comments about furphies employed by the No side to scare Australians into voting No come at the same time as support grows for an Australian to replace the Queen as head of state.

Support for a Yes vote in November has come in recent weeks from Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett, Federal Treasurer Peter Costello, former High Court Chief Justice Sir Gerard Brennan, former Governor General Sir Zelman Cowmen, great Australian achievers including John Newcombe and Steve Waugh and eminent constitutional academics Professors Greg Craven and George Winterton.

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