Malcolm Turnbull, MHR
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Thursday, 04 November 2004
What does the election of Mr. Turnbull mean?
On the day of the anniversary of the referendum, some of the media treated the ARM call to revive the republican issue as a newsworthy item! I wonder why? Is the republic still part of the agenda of the elite media? I responded in the media release which I circulated recently. In any event, the Prime Minister regards the issue as settled by the 1999 referendum. It will not be raised while John Howard is Prime Minister. Nevertheless, the ARM leader, Professor Warhurst, had made a great play over the fact that Malcolm Turnbull had been elected to Parliament. He seems to see this as a a major reason to raise the issue again.

Now it should be noted that Mr Turnbull’s election was only secured because of the strong flow of preferences from Peter King, who from the very beginning of our struggle, and all along, has been a committed constitutional monarchist.

And while we knew Mr Turnbull had recently spoken at an ARM fund-raising function, we did not know, nor did the electors of Wentworth know, that his election means that the republican issue should now be revisited. Mr Turnbull certainly did not promise this to the electors. In fact, the Wentworth Courier reported Mr Turnbull as suggesting the very opposite:

"To have a successful referendum you need at least four things:

• Overwhelming community support
• Bipartisan community support a sense that the
time is right,and also that
• Republicans have agreed on a model.
I think it unlikely that all those things will come into alignment during the reign of the
present Queen. "

The last sentence of Mr Turnbull’s observation is obviously correct.

But we have to tell him that it is unlikely that there will ever be overwhelming community support for a republic . And while there may be agreement about a republic between a majority of politicians, as there was in 1999, there will always be some politicians who respect their oaths of allegiance. Finally, republicans will never -never -agree on a model. That said, there remains a contradiction between Mr Turnbull and Professor Warhurst. Either Mr Turnbull intends to push the republican debate now, as Professor Warhurst suggests, or it is a long way off. The electors deserve to know the answer.

 As Mr Turnbull is an habitué of ARM functions, could he and Professor Warhurst tell us which is the correct interpretation of Mr Turnbull’s election to Parliament. Is the Third Tunbull republic on, or is it off?

Until next time,

 David Flint