ON THIS DAY    6 November      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
1999: Australia rejects republic

Australians have rejected a proposal to break ties with the British monarchy and become a republic.

In the landmark referendum to decide whether Australia would replace Queen Elizabeth with a president, the "no" votes led 54.87% to 45.13% in the final count.

All six states voted against the proposal, Victoria by the narrowest margin of 50.16% to 49.84%.

Any change needed the backing of an overall majority of the country's 12 million voters as well as a majority of the states.

The result was greeted by wild cheering at a monarchist campaign rally in Sydney's Darling Harbour, where 200 people popped champagne corks in celebration.

Prime Minister John Howard said the Australian people had clearly rejected the republic proposal.

"The government will now turn its attentions to those things which directly affect the lives of Australians," he said.

But opposition leader Kim Beazley promised to keep the republic issue alive.

"The referendum was quite clearly lost because of the way it was set up, setting up one form of republic against the other," he said.

"Nothing will ever kill off the republican movement. Nothing will kill it until it succeeds."

Under the republican proposal, a president would have been elected by members of both houses of parliament, and not in a direct election.

A widespread distrust of politicians - as much as strong pro-monarchist sentiment - was seen as fuelling the rejection of a republic.

In Context
During her first visit to Australia after the referendum - in March 2000 - the Queen hinted in a speech that the time might come when Australians would vote to replace her as head of state.

"Whatever the future may bring, my lasting respect and deep affection for Australia and Australians everywhere will remain as strong as ever," she said.

In June 2001 the Australian Republican Movement revealed plans to resurrect their campaign for the Queen to be replaced as head of state.

The Commonwealth, comprising countries formerly in the British Empire, has 54 members from Africa, Asia, the Pacific region and the Caribbean.


Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |