Have just returned from the Australian Republican Movement's 15th anniversary dinner. Hard to describe really, you can't call it a celebration because I think they thought we'd have the republic by now.
Their new great idea is to get to a republic with a series of "plebescites", first on do you want a republic then secondly what kind.
They sort of forget that we got into the first mess because the monarchists forced the debate to be about how you couldn't ask people if they were for or against a republic until they knew what kind of republic it was. Then once there was one chosen, the monarchists effectively campaigned to get other republicans to vote against the model.
And the ARM identifies six alternate models. I recall previously seeing a poll on these in which my preferred model (Executive Presidency) only scored 6% support. Now they just refer to having included the other five in a submission to a Senate inquiry having dropped the sixth (my preference) due to lack of support.
Anyway, I think all this plebescite stuff is a nonsense. Way too many options to run through, and too much information presented in uninteresting ways. I think we should give modern technology a shot and try for "Republic Idol" or "Singing for the President".
This is a game show/reality show construct. You start out with six teams of three whose job it is to promote one of the models. Over the first two or three shows you just introduce the models, include a bit of a travelogue on places that currently use one of the models (you know, shots of the Place de la Concorde and this is where modern republics began and the guillotine got a work out, cut to Washington with Jennifer Hawkins or Catriona Rowntree explaining the US republic).
After that each week the teams are given one aspect of democracy to discuss and explain why their model is best to deal with it. So the first week could be all about controlling executive power, the second week about leadership in crisis, the third about tolerance and freedom. At the end of each show we put up the SMS and phone numbers and the audience can choose to "vote off a model" or "vote for the model you most like" (you can actually have both the positive and the negative option). Each week a model gets eliminated till we come down to the final show where the republic model is chosen. Clearly you'd want to think through the issues so that the last show is really dealing with something big.
After that there could be a super final show - republic versus her maj. Mind you, you could have her maj as an option all the way through but I'm not sure its particularly fair nor is it likely you'd get the really credible monarchy prosletysers out for the whole show.
Of course, at the end you still need the referendum.
Only problem I'm told is that no one would watch the show - but it sounds like a goer to me!!!
PS I don't usually post my ideas for TV shows here, but with John Hinde passing away yesterday I am reminded of the ABC Christmas party where I suggested to Hinde and Libby Gore that it would be a hoot to have him do a review of, I think a sports video, on Elle McFeast. Anyway I loved it when he did appear.