Dear Professor Flint,
As your double agent in the Republican movement - pretending to be one of them while secretly hoping to have my tummy tickled by a royal - I beg to report that on Friday I attended a fund-raising lunch for the Australian Republican Movement in Chinatown, where our erstwhile prime minister Bob Hawke spoke passionately and eloquently.
You'll be pleased to hear his opening remarks were of his great regard for the Queen herself, and that it was in fact the widespread and deserved public affection she enjoys that is the chief barrier to Australia cutting the apron strings.
His view is the way forward is to hold a referendum on: ''Are you in favour of Australia becoming a republic when the Queen's reign is over?''
In which case he believes it would be a landslide.
The 84-year-old is in fine fettle, and received a standing ovation.
Hope you're well, Professor.
Dear Mr. FitzSimons,
Thank you for your valuable intelligence. Your reference to Chinatown reminds me when I was last actually in the nearby Trades Hall where I was once a delegate. Jai Martinkovits ( he holds the position at ACM first held by Tony Abbott) and I had just debated Senator Thistlethwaite and David Morris about a republic.
At the end, a Chinese lady in the audience came up and whispered to me: '' I escaped from a republic – China – and I never want to live under one again.
Incidentally, our last function in Chinatown was also a great success and featured in your newspaper. It was addressed by Senator Cory Bernardi who was certainly also eloquent.
Good that the Republicans are getting former Prime Ministers to work for them.
Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser did us a great service during the referendum when they appeared in a joint television advertisement, It's Time. We worked out that it brought a considerable number of votes our way.
Bob is right of course about the respect Australians have for The Queen, although he didn't think so in 1999.
I remember years ago when HM had just finished speaking at Parliament House. As she came down from the platform she was rushed by former prime ministers Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke as well as then Oppositon Leader Kim Beazley who all fawned on her.
I wondered whether she reflected on the fact that they had all campaigned against her in the referendum.
Bob knows full well that his proposal for his so-called ''referendum'' would be completely useless.
The idea of a referendum to take effect on the passing of the Queen is not only macabre and grotesque but legally full of holes.
It is unachievable not only for uncertainty but particularly because it does not spell out what sort of politicians' republic he has up his sleeve and precisely what sections of the Constitution are to be amended and how.
Do keep passing on our intelligence.
[ An exchange of letters in part in The Sun-Herald, begun on St David's Day 2014]