Republic push reborn

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 20 Oktober 2012 | 19.55

David Morris has given up his diplomatic job to lead the Republican movement. Picture: RICHARD JUPE

THE Australian Republican Movement today starts its national campaign to elect an Australian head of state.

Leader David Morris and members will ask visitors to museum and art gallery MONA about Aussie values and their support for another referendum.

Mr Morris resigned from his diplomat job to take on the task.

"It's a big ask and it's time to start the conversation again," Mr Morris said.

"The first step is to find what we agree on as a nation rather than what divides us."

Mr Morris grew up in Tassie and worked for the late premier Jim Bacon.

He served as a diplomat in Dublin and Brussels before devoting his energy towards an Australian republic.

He said Australians voted 55 per cent to 45 per cent against a republic 13 years ago but recent polls showed between 60 and 70 per cent support for a republic. The Tasmanian vote was slightly more than the national tally.

Mr Morris said it was well-recognised former prime minister and staunch monarchist John Howard who divided the republican cause by convoluted wording on the referendum ballot.

"It was meant to confuse people and it worked," he said.

In a speech last month, Federal Liberal Party MP and Republican Movement founder Malcolm Turnbull labelled the Howard and Liberal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott referendum campaign "utterly dishonest".

Mr Turnbull, Tasmanian lawyer Greg Barns and author Thomas Keneally started the republican movement 20 years ago.

Mr Morris said an Australian Republic was not a campaign against the British royal family.

"Every Australian should have the possibility of becoming the head of state," he said.

"It belongs to an Australian, not to a person who lives on the other side of the world."

Mr Barns said a republic was a true reflection of a confident and independent Australia.

MONA owner David Walsh said Australia did not need another referendum on the republic.

"We just need to ask Australians 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' " he said.

"We are children in our empire's arms; it's about time we struck out on our own."

Anglicare chief Chris Jones said his main concern for the future of Australia was for those affected by poverty, not the questions of a republic or monarchy.

Former Telstra Tasmania chief telecommunications consultant Noel Hunt said a republic reflected Australian heritage.

"British heritage is extremely important but so is Aboriginal and multicultural heritage," he said.

"Australia does the most business with Asia, China and India. A lot of people want to stick with the status quo. They say there are no compelling reasons to change it. Business and cultures are compelling reasons."

State Opposition Leader Will Hodgman said Australia should have an Aussie head of state.

"It's the next step in our progress as a proud independent nation, That's as simple as it gets," he said.

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