AUSTALIAN REPUBLICAN MOVEMENT ARM SUPPORTERS NIGHT, COOPERS INN, MELBOURNE

25 FEBRUARY 2015

Welcome to our first ARM members and supporters night for 2015.

I should say, our inaugural members and supporters night really, as this is anew format we’re giving a spin, and I’m grateful for your attendance.

If you’ll indulge me, I just wanted to provide a bit of context around what we’re doing here tonight.

When looking back at my notes from the last time we all met at our annual fundraiser, I said “2014 isn’t a bad time at all to be a Republican”.

I forecast we’d be afforded plenty of chances with Tony Abbott as PM, owing to the fact that there are few issues he cares more about than the Monarchy.

But I didn’t for a moment realise just how right I’d be!

For all the goodwill and passion in the world, we were crying out for a shift in the political climate, and that’s precisely what we’ve had.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who is an apology for tonight, showed genuine leadership in his Australia Day eve speech.

He put the challenge to rally behind an Australian Republic, and to boldly declare that Australia’s head of state should be one of us.

From an ARM perspective, we couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

Then the next day the PM afforded the Movement perhaps the most spectacular free kick we’ve ever received.

By knighting Prince Philip – on Australia Day no less – the PM drew into the sharpest of focus the most ludicrous elements of our relationship to Britain.

As Peter Costello said, the astonishing decision was the, quote, ‘barbeque stopper of the century’.

It was a perfect illustration of how readily the Australian people will sign up to our core proposition.

It truly captured hearts and minds – the core goal of any campaign.

Now, my favourite stat to rattle off in this gig is that 3.5 million Australians weren’t on the voter roll when this went to the Australian people in 1999.

Couple that with the fact the between a quarter and a third of Australians under the age of 34 are undecided on this question, and out task is obvious.

How many of those otherwise disengaged Australians were of the 80 per cent who flatly rejected the Prince Philip Knighthood?

The answer is plenty. And they’re precisely who we need to hear our compelling case.

So as a Movement, we need to realise, and believe, that our time is now.

That means the ARM emerging into more than an organisation that does its best in challenging circumstances.

We need to build, learning and applying world’s best practice campaign techniques.

We need to better engage the community, both online, on their televisions and in the community.

There is a common theme to all of these elements: we need people.

We can’t be content with what happened on Australia Day and go back to leaning on the splice at the non-strikers’ end.

We simply must capitalise.

What that means is in this room, we need to commit to each other.

Commit to go from ARM members or Republican supporters into true Republican activists.

There is truly no better time than now.

To activate. To mobilse.

And then, at long last, to win.