the australian constitutional thingy

Rob Schaap rws at
Sat Nov 6 03:45:39 PST 1999

Well, the 'minimalist' republican option took a 54-46% kicking. It seems the richer and the more formally educated the cluster the more enthusiastic the republican sentiment (well, it was their sorta republic), and the poorer and the less formally educated, the weaker the support. Women, too, voted much more strongly against it than men.

Them's the tea-leaves. I'll leave it to my compatriots to read 'em.

I reckon any analysis should factor in just how much this is the consequence of marketing from both sides that, I submit, has been the most offensive load of crap I've yet had the misfortune to gag at. The further we sink into this power-suited, spin-meistered, populace-loathing, slogan-chucking mode of public discourse, the ... well, I don't actually know.

One thing (it has occurred to me) that we should inform interested Americans about, is that the Australian constitution (the effective focus of today's expensive embarrassment) is unknown to all but a dozen lawyers and a handful of lonely academics. Our system is the product of a sorta common-law process - entirely run on convention, and almost entirely without recourse to the actual (and astonishingly dated and incongruent) constitution - only almost no-one knows that either.

Still, if anything good has come out of this, it is that Australians still won't know anything about the constitution in whose name they cast their vote. None of that hands-on-hearts stuff for us! Well, except for this nauseating Olympics business, which is only gonna get worse, I s'pose. If I stop smoking, d'ya reckon I could get a seat on the space-shuttle?

Cheers, Rob.

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