Untimely Visit

Originally published as a Letter to the Editor in The Sydney Morning Herald 5 May 1999.

When the Queen visits us next year she will be faced with one of two likely scenarios: either we will have voted to become a republic and she will perform a Mountbatten. Or, the more likely scenario; the referendum will fail. Three states will vote in favour and three against. But the majority of Australians will vote in favour of a republic.

Ridiculous anomalies prevail. Residents of the six states will get two votes, while residents of the territories (close to half a million Australians, exceeding the population of Tasmania) will only get one. They will be denied a vote in the crucial second count: the States' vote.

And about 300,000 non-Australian British subjects (many of whom live in South Australia, the state most finely balanced), will all get two votes, in spite of the fact that they have all been repeatedly invited to become Australians, but have refused.

Because of these extraordinary anomalies, many Australians will feel cheated.

The problem facing Her Majesty is that she will come, not as Queen of NSW, Victoria, Queensland or Britain, but as Queen of Australia in the climate of a majority no-confidence vote. It will be very difficult for her under such circumstances to not consider abdication, but most certainly her visit will be untimely and divisive.