A recent Ipsos poll showing Australia’s support for a republic has ‘steadily declined’ to its lowest levels will no doubt alarm republican lobbyists.
In response to the question ‘Should Australia become a republic?’ only 34 percent of respondents said ‘yes’ with 40 percent against – the lowest support recorded by both the Ipsos and Nielsen polls.
Most troubling for republicans is that support among 18- to 24-year-old Australians is now the lowest supporting cohort. Only 26 per cent are in favour compared to 34 per cent in all other age groups.
The Australian Republic Movement (ARM) has always boasted that four million young new voters – and new migrants – on the electoral roll since 1999 would generate the groundswell for a republic.
Paired with recent attempts to expose Buckingham Palace through the ‘Palace Letters’, and even the impending passing of Queen Elizabeth II, republican leaders have maintained the next generation would be torch-carriers for an Australian President and disposing of our constitutional monarchy.
Yet as the poll confirms, “support for a republic has steadily ebbed since a peak in December 1999 – when 57 per cent of Australians were in favour – immediately after the failed 1999 republic referendum.”
The ARM naturally contests the findings. Their Chair has said “I don’t accept that poll … we have been getting phenomenally strong support.”
COVID has also likely dampened republican support as other priorities for many of us have emerged over the past 12 months.
But the declining support is obvious when looking at the broad trends since 1999, since which time the centennial urgency of the republican moment has passed.
It’s less important, for example, and less on the minds of Australians, who should be opening the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Consider too the following.
- Our year-on-year commercial relations have only grown with Asian neighbours – trends that monarchists and other ‘no’ voters in 1999 were told would recede.
- The Queen and other royal figures continue to command strong public appreciation in Australia.
- And, even since the late 1970s, Australian Election Study data suggests that the republic has been a downward – and not upward – trend on voters’ minds.
Still needing to be ready
Despite all this, republican lobbyists – intensely well-resourced and with advocates in influential places – will still want their republic.
And monarchists and other supporters of common sense will need to be prepared.