An Australian Republic? 4. Polling - Gauging Support for an Australian Republic

In the 1999 referendum, Australian electors were asked to vote for or against a republic with a president appointed by two-thirds vote of the Australian parliament. The question was defeated in every state and the Northern Territory, with a national vote of just over 45 per cent in favour and just over 54 per cent against. Many factors influence opinions on this issue. An analysis of the 1999 results as well as polling data might shed some on light.  

Gathering Information and Analysis

Describing the data

Newspoll Survey 1995-2002

  1. Examine the polling data from the Newspoll survey conducted between 1995 and 2002, and graph the highest annual totals for and against the republic for that period. (Hint: Copy the data into an excel spreadsheet, and use the chart option for an instant graph). Describe the trend that emerges from your graph. What does this tell you about support for a republic amongst Australian electors?
  2. Compare the totals for and against from 1999 to the official results of the referendum. Which 1999 figure was more accurate? Was 1999 a good time to have the referendum for those in favour of a republic?
  3. Examining the official referendum results, create a table which shows the State and Territory results for and against the republic question. Were there states that performed better than the highest national polling result in favour of a republic in 1999, about the same, or lower? How accurate was the national poll when examined by state and Territory? Provide evidence for your response. 

Analysing the Data

  1. Looking at the official results of the 1999 Republic Referendum for your state, choose a seat where the vote was highest in favour of a republic, and a seat where the vote against the republic was the highest. Is there a relationship between the location of the seat and the vote for and against the republic? Explain and test your hypothesis against another seat which voted in favour and one that voted against.

AEC Electorate Search (Note that some electorates and their names may have changed due to redistributions since 1999.)

  1. Now refer to the different categories of individuals polled: age, gender etc. Graph the highest totals for each demographic group in 1999.
  2. Referring to the polling on the kind of model for a republic that should be adopted, graph the totals in favour of each of the proposed models.
  3. Write an explanation of the data in both graphs, which accounts for the kind of support a republic might have among different groups of people, as well as the support for the different models.  
  4. Using the information in the graphs, compare the data to the official national referendum results, and then by state and Territory. Write a paragraph that speculates on the probable causes of the referendum result in 1999. What do you think were the possible factors in the defeat of the referendum?

Using your findings

1. Read the following article by Greg Barnes in The Age.
Australians should choose their republic (April 2008)

2. Create a PowerPoint for a class presentation, or write a report using your data analysis in the previous activity.