Sunday, November 7, 1999 Published at 17:33 GMT
Australian PM snubs his critics
Prime Minister John Howard was blamed for the defeat
Australian Prime Minister John Howard has refused to answer the republican campaigners who say he sabotaged Saturday's referendum which voted against a republic.
Voting was compulsory and many supporters of the republic chose to retain the monarchy because they did not like the alternative on offer - a president elected by parliament, not the people.
But he said there had been a clear verdict in favour of retaining the queen as head of state and it was now time to move forward.
He refused to be drawn on the criticism.
Prominent republicans had accused him of sabotaging their campaign by offering the unpopular option of a president chosen by politicians, which exploited the differences of opinion in the republican camp.
Australian Republican Movement chairman Malcolm Turnbull said: "Whatever John Howard achieves, history will remember him for only one thing: he was the prime minister who broke this nation's heart."
The result also increased pressure on Mr Howard to reverse his decision to officially open the Sydney Olympic Games next year, rather than invite the head of state to do so, in line with tradition.
But both monarchists and republicans said on Sunday he should reconsider the decision.
Labor opposition leader Kim Beazley said: "Now that we've had this vote, the sensible thing to do would be for the Queen's representative to do the job if she didn't want to do it herself."
Relations with Asia
Mr Howard doubted the vote could be perceived as Australia reaffirming its ties with the West at the expense of its relationships with Asia.
"Asian countries don't really give a damn about our constitutional arrangements," he said.
Mr Howard's government has broken a long Australian tradition of nurturing closer ties with Asian countries and muting public criticism, especially of the country's northern neighbour Indonesia.
Australian troops headed the multinational force that went to East to restore peace after pro-Jakarta militias took revenge for the territory's overwhelming vote for independence from Indonesia.
How Australia voted
Vote-counting will resume on Monday.
In the territories, 63.2% of voters in Australian Capital Territory were in favour of breaking ties with the monarchy, while those in Northern Territory narrowly rejected the proposal.