Republicans urged to try again
December 8, 2007 - 5:27PM

Republicans have been urged to focus on encouraging the new federal government to hold a non-binding vote on whether the nation should have an Australian head of state.

Delivering the fifth National Republican Lecture in Canberra, Sydney Institute Executive Director and conservative newspaper columnist Gerard Henderson outlined a plan he said republicans should adopt to achieve their goal.

Dr Henderson said republicans should "maintain a strong united movement" as a base from which to wage a future campaign for a republic.

Republicans should "focus on creating the circumstances which will encourage a government, initially the Rudd government, to put forward a plebiscite on whether Australia should have an Australian head of state", Dr Henderson said.

Although Prime Minister Kevin Rudd put the republic issue back on the agenda by indicating support for a second referendum, Dr Henderson said Mr Rudd would be reluctant to pursue a vote in his first term.

"Put simply no new Prime Minister wants to tarnish a first term mandate by proposing a referendum or plebiscite on the republic which might be defeated," he added.

Dr Henderson said it was important republicans also work with the coalition to encourage as many Liberals and Nationals as possible to support a plebiscite.

He said republicans should stress that the essential aim of their movement was to replace the monarch with an Australian head of state and unite to reduce the prospect of a no vote at the next referendum.