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Government should fund both sides of Republican debate



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JOHN HOWARD, M.P.

MEMBER FOR BENNELONG SHADOW ,MINISTER FOR INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING

IR 050/93

GOVERNMENT SHOULD FUND BOTH SIDES OF REPUBLICAN DEBATE

In his statement to Parliament yesterday, the Prime Minister said "The issues involved in the creation of a Federal Republic of Australia are complex.. .they require thoughtful and informed debate".

I agree totally with those statements of the Prime Minister.

The Government would make a major contribution to promoting thoughtful and informed debate if it were to adopt an evenhanded, fair approach to the funding of both sides of the debate.

At present, a large amount of money has been provided to fund the republican side of the argument. Malcolm Turnbull and his committee have traipsed around the countryside at taxpayer expense.

I am sure the final bill for the Republican Advisory Committee's deliberations will run into millions of dollars.

By contrast, bodies such as Australians for Constitutional Monarchy receive no government help at all. They rely entirely on voluntary donations from the public.

This is a travesty of fairminded debate. It is, of course, in line with the Labor Party's authoritarian approach to such issues.

As today's newspoll shows, there is nothing inevitable about an Australian republic. Community opinion is sharply divided. The initial surge of support for republicanism has clearly abated.

Many Australians want advice, information and argument from both sides of this important issue.

Mr Keating frequently talks of Australian values.

A major Australian value is that of a fair go. It is hardly fair or democratic for the taxpayer to foot the bill for only one side of the debate about whether or not this country should become a republic.

CANBERRA COMMONVJEAL fl

29 September 1993 PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY

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