Craig Foster, you had a job as Australia’s top republican… but by lecturing us all about foreign wars, you’ve made a real mistake and we’ll probably have the monarchy for another generation.

Craig Foster, you had a job as Australia’s top republican… but by lecturing us all about foreign wars, you’ve made a real mistake and we’ll probably have the monarchy for another generation.

By Peter van Onselen, Political Editor, Daily Mail Australia

03:07 May 23, 2024, updated 04:20 May 23, 2024



The Australian Republic Movement insisted that the nation would abandon the monarchy after the Queen’s death and finally “stand on its own two feet”.

But then they ruined everything. How did this come about?

If opinion polls showing dwindling support for becoming a republic following the Queen’s death were not enough to drive republicans to drink, this week’s discussion between the (now former) co-chairs of ARM Nova Peris and Craig Foster should suffice.

These former sports stars have been feuding in public over the Middle East conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Perhaps the only topic that athletes (and entertainers) are least qualified to lecture the rest of us about—beyond the merits of becoming a republic—is how to solve the complex challenges in the Middle East.

However, differences of opinion on this front separated the ARM co-chairs, to the point that they could no longer work together.

Craig Foster (left) and Nova Peris (right)’s opposing views on the Israel-Palestine war have resulted in both leaving the Australian Republic Movement.

Both resigned in disgust with each other, and the dispute continues today through a caustic opinion piece written by Peris in The Australian, in which he described his former colleague’s comment as “divisive and inaccurate”.

With the astute judgment that ARM has shown over the years, he will likely ask fellow Republican advocate Alan Joyce to take over as the next president.

The former Qantas chief executive clearly has the common touch the movement needs. A unifying figure, without a doubt.

When I contacted ARM’s father, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, to see if he would be interested in reprising the role he previously played, he unsurprisingly didn’t seem all that interested.

To whom can the cause seriously turn now? And who would even want the job?

Both resigned in disgust with each other, and the dispute continues today through a caustic op-ed written by Peris, in which he described Foster’s comment as “divisive and inaccurate.”

Trust was rife after the Queen’s death. Then ARM president Peter FitzSimons generously waited a week after Queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest before writing a column declaring in its first line: “We’re back.”

He went on to declare that his death “changes everything”, and even took credit for Anthony Albanese installing an assistant minister for the republic after victory in the 2022 election.

He also stated that the new ARM model for a republic would be “the starting point for the conversation that the Albanian government will drive from here.”

Fast forward to today, and quite apart from the animosity now gripping recent ARM leaders, Albo is about to get rid of his assistant minister for the portfolio of the republic in the upcoming reshuffle, and has declared that there won’t be a referendum in a second. Labor mandate, assuming he is re-elected.

Perhaps FitzSimons can convince Albo to change his mind about the impotent ministerial position and keep him pointlessly tossing in the wind for another three years. The two have been tennis partners for a long time.

But it will not change the prime minister’s decision to continue ignoring the republican question.

Australia becoming a republic still seems inevitable, but I, for one, am starting to think that won’t happen in my lifetime. (Pictured: William and Kate during a visit to Taronga Zoo in April 2014)

The cost of living challenges and the housing crisis consuming the country are all Albo wants to focus on. He certainly won’t want to be seen indulging in issues like the republic.

Especially after being burned by the resounding rejection of his Voice referendum last year by more than 60 per cent of the Australian voting population.

Like so many campaigns of the modern left, this was another campaign dominated by celebrities unable to convince the mainstream to support their idea.

He may also have put the cart before the horse. Perhaps the best way to disassociate Australia from its colonial past would be to first become a republic and then follow the various steps of reconciliation that require constitutional change.

For anyone who wants a change, Bill Shorten may have had the right idea a few years ago.

He did not advocate a Voice referendum as his first order of business if elected in 2019. Instead, he promised a republican referendum in the first term of a Labor government.

Now we are not even going to get it in a second Albanian term.

King Charles (left, with Anthony Albanese) has not turned out to be the unpopular figure many thought he might be; In fact, his cancer diagnosis has only increased public sympathy.

So if not now, when?

King Charles has not turned out to be the unpopular figure many thought he might be; In fact, his cancer diagnosis has only increased public sympathy.

And the next generation, William and Kate, remain popular despite Harry and Meghan’s best efforts.

Australia becoming a republic still seems inevitable, but I, for one, am starting to think that won’t happen in my lifetime.

Republican activists have always lectured Australians that to become a secure, independent nation we must become a republic.

However, it seems that we have become more confident without the change.

Describing it as a “must do” or a “need” seems silly these days.

Until ARM focuses on the mainstream, it will not win it over with sermons from on high.

And yes, I am a Republican…