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Referendum to Republic

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In 1999, a referendum was held in Australia due to the heated republican debate that had begun five years earlier. The debate was over the change of Australia's government from the constitutional monarchy to a republic. The referendum was held on the 6th of November, 1999 and the results were 6,410,787 for the NO position on the republic and 5,273,024 for the YES position. The loss to the NO position was often credited to the division of the type of republic, among the republicans, and the stiff resistance of monarchist groups. But what if that division was not as big, and the monarchist groups didn't put up such a resistance. What if Australia were a republic?

The Referendum

Australian republic referendum, 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 election winning the most in popular votes.

Election results
Yes or no Votes Percentage
No 5,483,560 46.53%
Yes 6,183,589 52.47%
Invalid or blank votes 101,189 0.86%
Total votes 11,785,000 100.00%
95.10%


Background:

The republican movement that had been around in Australia since its independence, but it began gaining support and momentum going into the 1990's. Thomas Keneally founded the Australian Republican Movement (ARM) in 1991 after the Labour party adopted republicanism as a policy in June the same year. By 1993, the investment banker Malcomn Turnbull became chairman of the ARM. Later that year, the Republican Advisory Committee was created by the incumbent prime minister's party (Labour) which later laid foundations for a proposed change in the Australian Constitution.

The Debate Heats Up:

By 1995, the republican movement was in full swing, gaining major support, more so urban communities than rural ones. Their support flourished, and their chairman, Malcolm Turnbull, was using some of his personal fortune to help the party gain more support. In 1996, the 1996 federal election came and went with a coalition of Liberal/National parties gaining more votes than Labour, and John Howard came to power. John Howard held a monarchist view and if the nation was to become a republic he felt it would need a minimalist model. In 1998, the Australian Constitutional Convention was held to discuss whether the plan for a republic should go through. It was eventually decided that the referendum should take place on the 6th of November 1999.
Constitutional convention-4e8b85f1bd0b2

A photograph of the 1998 Constitutional Convention.

Referendum:

The debates finally began on the 14th of June 1999, with many opinion polls showing people referred a republic rather than the current system. The republicans carried their support over into their debates and won major cities throughout the country. The major debate on the 15th of August saw the majority of republicans come up with a system that they would use once the republic was implemented. They would use a system like the Republic of Ireland, with the prime minister and president being elected by the popular vote, in two separate elections. This was widely accepted and the people responded to it, with most accepting the possible future government. Finally, on the 6th of November, the people put in their ballots. The results were announced on the 15th, with the Republicans winning the referendum with 700,000 more votes. And after a setup of the new government, on the 1st of January, in the year 2000, on Australia's 99th year since independence, the Republic of Australia was born.

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