Republic - polls confirm youth not interested
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Monday, 17 January 2005

We have previously referred to what is a time bomb for republicanism in this country, Canada and the other Realms.

This is that polling taken during the referendum indicated that the young are less interested in republicanism than the middle aged. Yet republicans often assume the opposite.

On one occasion former Senator Susan Ryan told the ABC that once the present generation of constitutional monarchists moved on, a republic was assured.

Similar polling in Canada indicates that a strong majority of the younger generation support the constitutional monarchy. Now a poll, the iGeneration poll, has been commissioned by The West Australian and HBF, and published on 18 January, 2005, http://enewspaper.thewest.com.au , and for only $4 is well worth a view.

The West reports that this poll is one of the most comprehensive investigations into the private thoughts, beliefs, prejudices and fears of 18 to 30-year-olds throughout WA. The results have come as a serious blow to the Australian Republican Movement whose WA Convenor says she is disappointed with the low support for the republic from young people. She admitted that ARM polling showed it had more support among older age groups.

Actually, all the polling we have seen indicates a bell curve, with the middle aged male being more strongly republican than any other group, with women, the young and the old providing less than 50% support.

The low support for a republic mirrors even lower support among young Victorians revealed in a recent survey by the Melbourne Herald Sun which we reported last year.

And what is often forgotten is that the vote is usually taken on a "pie in the sky "republic. Once people know what they are in for, which the Constitution requires, to the eternal credit of our Founders, the vote falls dramatically. In this poll nearly half of the respondents think we should maintain our historical ties with Britain.

About a third supported the retention of a constitutional monarchy with The Queen as our head of State represented by the Governor-General, while 17 per cent did not know. Of course, we would challenge that question. There is a debate as to whether the Governor-_General is Head of State- he is held out as such whenever he travels and all functions under the Constitution, except his appointment are vested in him.

Men are more likely to support Australia loosening its ties with Britain — 57 per cent support a republic nation compared with 49 per cent of women. Labor voters are also much more likely to be in favour of becoming a republic than coalition supporters (65 per cent to 43 per cent), although more Labor voters in WA voted No in 1999. Overall a small majority of 53% supported a republic, and that is with the core question saying the Queen is Head of State.

Two out of five do not believe Australia would be any more or less independent if it became a republic.

 The West Australian photographed five attractive young women who were all opposed to a republic. The caption on one photograph described them as royalists. They were unanimous that Australia should remain a constitutional monarchy. One said:

" Australia is independent anyway and in the last 20 years has become highly respected in the world community. I don’t think becoming a republic would make any difference. Another said becoming a republic could make Australia more vulnerable.

I think we have to be very careful about breaking that tie with the UK because we are still a very young country and it would be unwise to lose it as an ally "

 According to ianThe Western Australian, the figures reflect a surprising conservative streak among young people in WA The newspaper editorialised that although the debate about Australian republicanism has been mainly about symbols and how Australians see themselves, fewer than half the respondents thought that a move away from the monarchy would have the practical effect of making Australia a more independent nation.

Just over half supported the change to a republic, which most judged would be of little practical consequence. This, the West said, is an impressive generation of level-headed young people. They give their elders every reason for confidence in the future they are shaping for themselves.