The Australian republic referendum held on 6 November 1999 was a two-question referendum to amend the Constitution of Australia. The first question asked whether Australia should become a republic with a President appointed by Parliament following a bi-partisan appointment model which had been approved by a half-elected, half-appointed Constitutional Convention held in Canberra in February 1998. The second question, generally deemed to be far less important politically, asked whether Australia should alter the Constitution to insert a preamble. For some years opinion polls had suggested that a majority of the electorate favoured a republic. Nonetheless, the republic referendum was defeated due to division among republicans on the method proposed for selection of the president and dissident republicans subsequently supporting the no campaign.
|Australian republic referendum, 6 November 1999|
|A proposed law: To alter the Constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic with the Queen and Governor-General being replaced by a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament. Do you approve this proposed alteration?'|
|Date||6 November 1999|
|Website: 1999 referendum report and statistics|
Note: Saturation of colour denotes strength of vote
|A Proposed Law: To alter the Constitution to insert a preamble. Do you approve this proposed alteration?|
|Date||6 November 1999|
|Website: 1999 referendum report and statistics|
Australia is a constitutional monarchy under the Constitution of Australia adopted in 1901, with the duties of the monarch performed by a Governor-General selected by the Australian Government. Australian republicanism has persisted since colonial times, though for much of the 20th century, the monarchy remained popular. In the early 1990s, republicanism became a significant political issue. Australian Labor Party Prime Minister Paul Keating indicated a desire to instigate a republic in time for the Centenary of the Federation of Australia in 2001. The opposition Liberal-National Coalition, led by Alexander Downer, though less supportive of the republic plan, promised to convene a Constitutional Convention to discuss the issue. Under John Howard, the Coalition won the 1996 Federal Election and set the Convention date for February 1998.
The Australian Constitutional Convention 1998 debated the need for a change to the Constitution of Australia which would remove the monarchy from a role in Australian government and law. The convention considered three categories of model for the selection of the head of state in an Australian republic: direct election, parliamentary election by a special majority, and appointment by a special council following prime ministerial nomination.
"In principle" agreement was reached by a majority of delegates for an Australian Republic (though a minority bloc of monarchists dissented). Following a series of votes, a proposal for a "Bipartisan Appointment of the President Model" for an Australian republic was endorsed by a majority of delegates who voted for or against the motion (monarchists and some radical-change republicans abstained from the vote). The Convention recommended to the Prime Minister and Parliament of Australia that the model, and other related changes to the Constitution, supported by the convention, be put to the people in a constitutional referendum in 1999.
The majority of analysis has advanced two main reasons for the referendum defeat:
First, Australians have traditionally been cautious about proposed constitutional change. Beginning in 1906, only eight of 44 proposals put to a referendum have been approved by the constitutionally required double majority – that is, (1) a majority in each of a majority of the six States and (2) a majority nationally. In Sir Robert Menzies' words, "to get an affirmative vote from the Australian people on a referendum proposal is one of the labours of Hercules."
Second, public opinion varied widely on the issue, and was not a simple positive or negative reaction. The major opinion groups were:
The process for change is seen as an important factor for the eventual outcome in a referendum. There were several other proposals for selecting a president:
Different groups within the republican cause expressed views as to which one was preferable. Some were committed to one option exclusively.
The "yes" campaign was headed by Malcolm Turnbull. It was divided in detail but nevertheless managed to present a fairly united and coherent message and was notable for unlikely alliances between traditional opponents – former Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser gave joint statements, for example. Many other prominent Australians also endorsed the yes vote, which then led to claims that the movement was "elitist" in sentiment and supported by politicians rather than the public at large. Viewing the case for a republic as fairly self-evident and broadly supported by the Australian populace, their advertising concentrated mainly on the positive symbolism of the republican case. The "yes" campaign was also viewed as having the support of the popular Australian media; British politician and journalist Bill Deedes said in The Daily Telegraph in 1999: "I have rarely attended elections in any country, certainly not a democratic one, in which the newspapers have displayed more shameless bias. One and all, they determined that Australians should have a republic and they used every device towards that end."
The organised "no" campaign was a mixture of monarchist groups. Additionally it included some republican groups who did not feel that the proposed model was satisfactory, in particular they thought the people should elect the President. Headed by Kerry Jones, the "no" campaign concentrated on the perceived flaws of the model on offer, considering those who supported the "yes" push as "elites", and skilfully managing to appeal both to those apprehensive about the change on one hand, and those feeling the model didn't go far enough on the other. Their advertising emphasised voting no to "this republic", implying to direct-election supporters that a model more to their preferences was likely to be put in the future.
The common elements within the no campaign were the view that the model proposed was undemocratic and would lead to a "politician's republic", playing to a general distrust of politicians. "No" campaigners called for further consultation, while remaining non-specific on what steps were needed to ensure this.
The model with an appointed head of state was the one endorsed by the Constitutional Convention and put forward at the referendum. It was broadly supported by both minimalist and establishment republicans, including almost all Labor and some conservative politicians. Progressive republicans in the general community opposed the indirect elected model urging people to vote against the referendum. It was opposed by monarchists of both kinds.
Voting at the Convention was open and was recorded in Hansard. Hansard shows that 73 delegates voted in favour, 57 against and 22 abstained. Not one constitutional monarchist delegate voted in favour. The policy of ACM and other monarchist groups was to oppose all republican models, including the minimalist McGarvie model. Some conservatives argued this would be the easiest model to defeat in a referendum and therefore should be supported at the Convention. Had the monarchists followed this advice the McGarvie model would have prevailed at the Convention. A number of republicans who supported direct election abstained from the vote (such as Ted Mack, Phil Cleary, Clem Jones and Andrew Gunter), thereby allowing the bi-partisan model to succeed. They reasoned that the model would be defeated at a referendum, and a second referendum called with direct election as the model.
Although the motion was passed by ignoring those who abstained, the referendum model did not enjoy the support of the majority of delegates, a condition which the Prime Minister had indicated for a referendum. Because the model was overwhelmingly supported by the republican delegates, the Prime Minister decided to put that model to the referendum, a decision enthusiastically acclaimed by the ARM delegates and the media.
Electors were asked whether they approved of:
A proposed law: To alter the Constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic with the Queen and Governor-General being replaced by a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament.
Electors were also asked to vote on a second question at the 1999 referendum which asked whether they approved of:
A proposed law: To alter the Constitution to insert a preamble.
The preamble would then have read
Section 128 of the Australian Constitution requires a "double majority" to pass a constitutional amendment—a majority of states (four or more), and a majority of all the electors voting. Voters in the territories only counted towards the second of those majorities.
11,785,000 votes were cast, representing a voter turnout of 95.10%. Of these, approximately 100,000 (0.9%) were informal.
A Proposed Law: To alter the Constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic with the Queen and Governor-General being replaced by a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament.
Do you approve this proposed alteration?
|New South Wales||4,146,653||3,948,714||1,817,380||46.43%||2,096,562||53.57%||34,772|
|Australian Capital Territory||212,586||202,614||127,211||63.27%||73,850||36.73%||1,553|
|Total for Commonwealth||12,392,040||11,785,000||5,273,024||45.13%||6,410,787||54.87%||101,189|
Obtained majority in no State and an overall minority of 1 137 763 votes. Not carried.
A Proposed Law: To alter the Constitution to insert a preamble.
Do you approve this proposed alteration?
|New South Wales||4,146,653||3,948,482||1,647,378||42.14%||2,261,960||57.86%||39,144|
|Australian Capital Territory||212,586||202,618||87,629||43.61%||113,293||56.39%||1,696|
|Total for Commonwealth||12,392,040||11,785,035||4,591,563||39.34%||7,080,998||60.66%||112,474|
Obtained majority in no State and an overall minority of 2 489 435 votes. Not carried.
Both propositions failed, with none of the states recording an overall "Yes" vote. The state results ranged from 37.44% in Queensland to 49.84% in Victoria for the republic, and 32.81% in Queensland to 42.46% in Victoria for the preamble. Nationally, 54.87% voted "no" to the republic, and 60.66% to the preamble.
The highest "Yes" votes for the republic came from inner metropolitan areas. Of Australia's 148 divisions, 42 voted yes, with Melbourne (70.92%), Sydney (67.85%), Melbourne Ports (65.90%), Grayndler (64.77%) and Fraser (64.46%) registering the highest "Yes" votes at division level. Sydney and Melbourne voted in favour of the proposition for Australia to become a republic, in contrast to No votes in Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Perth. Wealthier areas also tended to support the proposal for Australia to become a republic — of the top 10% divisions on the 2001 SEIFA Advantage/Disadvantage index, only two out of 15 (Mitchell (46.89%) and Mackellar (49.43%)) voted "no". Votes in opposition to the proposal predominantly came from rural and remote divisions, as well as many outer suburban areas.
With republican models of one form or another winning a majority in opinion polls prior to the referendum, it was expected that the republican referendum would pass. However, the question put was for a particular model of republic with a head of state appointed by Parliament. This was opposed by some supporters of the republic, who preferred a directly elected head of state. Some of these, such as Phil Cleary, advocated that republic supporters vote No in order that a future referendum could be put on the directly elected model. Some commentators—including the president of the Australian Republican Movement, Malcolm Turnbull—identified this split within the republican camp as a key reason for the referendum's failure.
After the referendum, Malcolm Turnbull blamed Prime Minister Howard in particular for the defeat and claimed: "Whatever else he achieves, history will remember him for only one thing. He was the Prime Minister who broke a nation's heart." Meanwhile, the leader of Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy, Kerry Jones, called for citizens to accept the result and go forward "as a united nation". Despite the hopes of more radical republicans such as Phil Cleary, the referendum defeat was generally viewed as a setback for the republican cause and further referendums on the subject were mooted by the Howard Government.
High Court Justice Michael Kirby, a constitutional monarchist, ascribed the failure of the republic referendum to ten factors: lack of bi-partisanship; undue haste; a perception that the republic was supported by big city elites; a "denigration" of monarchists as "unpatriotic" by republicans; the adoption of an inflexible republican model by the Convention; concerns about the specific model proposed (chiefly the ease with which a Prime Minister could dismiss a president); a republican strategy of using big "names" attached to the Whitlam era to promote their cause; strong opposition to the proposal in the smaller states; a counter-productive pro-republican bias in the media; and an instinctive caution among the Australian electorate regarding Constitutional change.
The Gillard Labor government which took power in a hung parliament following the August 2010 election indicated an intention not to revisit the issue of a vote for an Australian republic during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The Liberal-National Coalition government in power following the September 2013 federal election was led by Tony Abbott, a supporter of the constitutional monarchy. During Abbott's term as Prime Minister, Labor Opposition Leader Bill Shorten stated he believed it was time to "breathe new life into the dream of an Australian republic".
On 15 September 2015, Malcolm Turnbull, who had been Chairman of the Australian Republican Movement from 1993 until 2000, succeeded Tony Abbott as leader of the Liberal Party, to become the Prime Minister of Australia. For the first time, the Prime Minister and the federal Opposition Leader, as well as the eight state and territory Premiers and Chief Ministers, were all self-declared republicans. Turnbull has stated that he believes Australia should become a republic after the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
The Australian flag debate is a periodic question over whether the Australian flag should be changed, particularly to remove the Union Jack from the canton, but also to possibly introduce a completely new design without the Southern Cross.The debate has often arisen in connection with the issue of republicanism in Australia. It has come to a head on a number of occasions, such as the period immediately preceding the Australian Bicentenary in 1988 and during the prime ministership of Paul Keating, who had publicly raised the topic of flag change during the early-1990s economic recession.Bi-partisan appointment republican model
The Bi-partisan appointment republican model is a proposal for Australian constitutional reform. If approved at referendum, the model would have established Australia as a republic with a Head of State appointed by the Australian Federal Parliament. The model was put to the people at the November 1999 republican referendum and was defeated by 54.4% of voters.Direct election republican model (Australia)
A direct election republican model is a proposal for Australian constitutional reform. If a proposal of this type were approved at a referendum, it would establish Australia as a republic with a head of state chosen directly by the Australian electorate.
While a directly elected president would be compatible with either a parliamentary or presidential system of government, typically when Australian republicans express support for "the direct-election model", support for the existing parliamentary system of government is usually implied. Supporters are envisaging a reform in which the Governor-General is replaced by a directly elected figurehead president and the Prime Minister of Australia remains the head of government.Gough Whitlam
Edward Gough Whitlam (; 11 July 1916 – 21 October 2014) was the 21st Prime Minister of Australia, serving from 1972 to 1975. The Leader of the Labor Party from 1967 to 1977, Whitlam led his party to power for the first time in 23 years at the 1972 election. He won the 1974 election before being controversially dismissed by the Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, at the climax of the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis. Whitlam remains the only Australian prime minister to have his commission terminated in that manner.
Whitlam served as an air navigator in the Royal Australian Air Force for four years during World War II, and worked as a barrister following the war. He was first elected to Parliament in 1952, representing Werriwa in the House of Representatives. Whitlam became Deputy Leader of the Labor Party in 1960, and in 1967, after the retirement of Arthur Calwell, was elected Leader and became the Leader of the Opposition. After narrowly losing the 1969 election, Whitlam led Labor to victory at the 1972 election after 23 years of continuous Liberal-Country Coalition Government.
The Whitlam Government implemented a large number of new programs and policy changes, including the termination of military conscription, institution of universal health care and free university education, and the implementation of legal aid programs. With the opposition-controlled Senate delaying passage of bills, Whitlam called a double dissolution election in 1974 in which he won a majority in the House of Representatives, albeit a slightly reduced one, and picked up three Senate seats. The Whitlam government then instituted the first and only joint sitting enabled under s. 57 of the Constitution as part of the double dissolution process. Despite the government's second election victory, the opposition, reacting to government scandals and a flagging economy suffering from the 1973 oil crisis and the 1973–75 recession, continued to obstruct the government's program in the Senate. In late 1975, the Opposition Senators refused to allow a vote on the government's appropriation bills, returning them to the House of Representatives with a demand that the government go to an election, thus denying the government supply. Whitlam refused to back down, arguing that his government, which held a clear majority in the House of Representatives, was being held to ransom by the Senate. The crisis ended on 11 November, when Whitlam arrived at a pre-arranged meeting with the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, at Government House in order to call a half-Senate election. Kerr dismissed him and commissioned the opposition leader, Malcolm Fraser, as prime minister. Labor lost the subsequent election by a landslide.
Whitlam stepped down after losing again at the 1977 election, and retired from parliament in 1978. Upon the election of the Hawke Government in 1983, he was appointed as Ambassador to UNESCO, a position he filled with distinction, and was elected a member of the UNESCO Executive Board. He remained active into his nineties. The propriety and circumstances of his dismissal and the legacy of his government have been frequently debated in the decades after he left office.Howard Government
The Howard Government refers to the federal executive government of Australia led by Prime Minister John Howard between 11 March 1996 and 3 December 2007. It was made up of members of the Liberal–National Coalition, which won a majority of seats in the House of Representatives at four successive elections. The Howard Government commenced following victory over the Keating Government at the 1996 federal election. It concluded with its defeat at the 2007 federal election by the Australian Labor Party, whose leader Kevin Rudd then formed the First Rudd Government. It was the second-longest government under a single Prime Minister, with the longest having been the second Menzies Government (1949–1966).
Two senior ministers served in single roles for the duration of the Government; Peter Costello as Treasurer and Alexander Downer as Minister for Foreign Affairs. The leader of the National Party served as Deputy Prime Minister. Three men served in this capacity during the Howard government: Tim Fischer until July 1999, followed by John Anderson until July 2005 and then Mark Vaile. Decisions of the Executive were made either by the Cabinet or by the appropriate Minister.
For the first three terms of government, and part of the fourth term, the Howard Government did not have control of the Senate. Legislation needed the support of the Opposition or minor parties for that legislation to be passed and become law. In the 2004 election, the Coalition won control of the Senate for all but the first nine months of its fourth term, and was able to pass legislation without the support of minor parties. The government also faced internal problems and tension, with the loss of numerous ministers during its first term due to the introduction of a ministerial code of conduct and ongoing leadership rivalry between John Howard and Peter Costello.
Significant issues for the Howard government included implementation of substantial spending cuts in its first term of office and completely paying off government debt; gun control; the popularity of Pauline Hanson and her One Nation party; industrial relations reforms, including the 1998 waterfront dispute and the introduction of WorkChoices; the 1999 Australian republic referendum; reconciliation and native title; the introduction of a goods and services tax; the 1999 Australian-led intervention in East Timor; managing asylum seekers; the "War on Terror"; the intervention in Northern Territory Indigenous communities; and an economy that experienced sustained growth throughout the government's term of office.James Blundell (singer)
James Blundell (born 8 December 1964) is an Australian country music singer. Born in Stanthorpe, Queensland, Blundell first rose to prominence after being named "best new talent" at the 1987 Country Music Awards of Australia. Blundell has since released several albums in both Australia and the United States, with his most successful album This Road (released in 1992) selling more than 145,000 copies in Australia. Blundell was an unsuccessful candidate for the Senate in Queensland at the 2013 federal election, running for Katter's Australian Party. At the 2019 Country Music Awards of Australia, Blundell was inducted into the Hall of Fame.James Gobbo
Sir James Augustine Gobbo AC, CVO, QC (born 22 March 1931) is a retired Australian jurist and was the 25th Governor of Victoria.Kerry Jones
Kerry Lyn Jones (born 19 April 1956) is the current Executive Director of the Constitution Education Fund Australia (CEFA).
Following a Bachelor of Music in 1977 and a Diploma of Education in 1978, Jones taught music in Sydney high schools. In 1985 she was appointed by the NSW Education Department as Performing Arts Consultant (K-12) for the Riverina Region. Her work included teacher training and syllabus implementation, bi-centenary and other special music projects such as regional bands and choirs, and special arts projects including working with indigenous Australians on the far west border of NSW. She later completed a Master of Educational Administration.
From 1990-1993, Jones was Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Nursing Homes and Private Hospitals.
In 1994 Jones was appointed Executive Director of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy following The Hon. Tony Abbott stepping down from the post, due to being elected to the Federal Parliament. In 1998 she was elected as a member of the Australian Constitutional Convention 1998. As leader of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, she defended the Australian Constitution, saying "no republic model will ever offer the protection and safeguards that work so well in our current Constitution". She said her task was to "assess each republican model against the Constitution that has served us so well". She told the Convention:
In 1999 she was appointed by the Federal Government to chair the “No Case Committee” for the 1999 Australian republic referendum, ultimately leading the “No Case” to a successful result. By leading the campaign against a Republic, Jones became a public figure and was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2000.
In 2001 Jones was appointed Executive Director of the Constitution Education Fund Australia (CEFA). Devoted to nonpartisan Civics, Citizenship and Values Education Programs, Projects and Awards the CEFA charity empowers young Australians to become knowledgeable, responsible and engaged participants in the Australian community. Kerry sees her community work with CEFA as vital for the future of an informed and vibrant Australian democracy. Kerry now devotes her full-time work to this community cause and sees her primary life work as an educationalist.
Jones is the publisher and editor of Aboriginal Arts in Transition (1989), The No Case Papers (1999), The Australian Constitutional Monarchy (1994), The ACM Handbook (1996) and The People's Protest (2000).List of Question Time episodes
The following is a list of episodes of Question Time, a British current affairs debate television programme broadcast by BBC Television.List of elections in 1999
The following elections occurred in the year 1999.
1999 electoral calendar
Beninese parliamentary election, 1999
Bolivian municipal election, 1999
Fijian general election, 1999
Guatemalan general election, 1999
Indonesian legislative election, 1999
Kazakhstani legislative election, 1999
Malaysian general election, 1999
Niuean general election, 1999
Salvadoran presidential election, 1999
Tongan general election, 1999
Yemeni presidential election, 1999Malcolm Mackerras
Malcolm Hugh Mackerras AO (born 26 August 1939) is an Australian psephologist and commentator and lecturer on Australian and American politics.Monarchy of Australia
The monarchy of Australia concerns the form of government in which a hereditary king or queen serves as the nation's sovereign and head of state. Australia is governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, largely modelled on the Westminster system of parliamentary government, while incorporating features unique to the Constitution of Australia. The present monarch is Elizabeth II, styled Queen of Australia, who has reigned since 6 February 1952. She is represented in Australia as a whole by the Governor-General, in accordance with the Australian Constitution and letters patent from the Queen, and in each of the Australian states, according to the state constitutions, by a governor, assisted by a lieutenant-governor. The monarch appoints the Governor-General and the governors, on the advice respectively of the Commonwealth government and each state government. These are now almost the only constitutional functions of the monarch with regard to Australia.Australian constitutional law provides that the monarch of the United Kingdom is also the monarch in Australia. This is understood today to constitute a separate Australian monarchy, the monarch acting with regard to Australian affairs exclusively upon the advice of Australian ministers. Australia is thus one of the Commonwealth realms, sixteen independent countries that share the same person as monarch and head of state. The role and future of the monarchy has been a recurring topic of public discussion.Rebecca Huntley
Rebecca Huntley (born 1972) is an Australian social researcher and expert on social trends. She is an author and researcher with degrees in law, a first class degree in film studies and a PhD in Gender Studies. She has been a regular columnist for Business Weekly Review, a feature writer for Vogue and a radio presenter for ABC's RN. She regularly features on radio and TV.Republicanism in New Zealand
Republicanism in New Zealand is a political position that holds that New Zealand's system of government should be changed from a constitutional monarchy to a republic.
New Zealand republicanism dates back to the 19th century, although until the late 20th century it was a fringe movement. The current main republican lobby group, New Zealand Republic, was established in 1994. Because New Zealand's constitution is uncodified, a republic could be enacted by statute, as a simple act of parliament. However, it is generally assumed that this would only occur following a nationwide referendum. Several prime ministers and governors-general have identified themselves as republicans, although no government has yet taken any meaningful steps towards enacting a republic. Public opinion polls have generally found that a majority of the population favour retaining the monarchy.Zelman Cowen
Sir Zelman Cowen, (7 October 1919 – 8 December 2011) was an Australian legal scholar and university administrator who served as the 19th Governor-General of Australia, in office from 1977 to 1982.
Cowen was born in Melbourne, and attended Scotch College before going on to the University of Melbourne. His studies were interrupted by World War II, during which he served in the Royal Australian Navy. After the war's end, Cowen attended New College, Oxford, on a Rhodes Scholarship. He subsequently won the prestigious Vinerian Scholarship as the best student in the Bachelor of Civil Law degree. He remained at Oxford after graduating, serving as a fellow of Oriel College from 1947 to 1950.
In 1951, Cowen returned to Australia to become dean of the law faculty at the University of Melbourne. In 1953, still while at The University of Melbourne, he was awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholarship in Law to Harvard University. He became known as an expert on constitutional law, and was a visiting professor at a number of overseas institutions. He later served as vice-chancellor of the University of New England (1966–1970) and the University of Queensland (1970–1977). In 1977, Malcolm Fraser appointed Cowen to succeed John Kerr as governor-general. He was an uncontroversial choice, and became the second Jewish holder of the position, after Sir Isaac Isaacs. After leaving office, Cowen returned to academia, serving as provost of Oriel College, Oxford, from 1982 to 1990.