REPUBLIC, IF YOU CAN KEEP SHOVING IT DOWN PEOPLE’S THROATS – The new year, the fresh opportunity to press the policy reset button and jump-start the government in its last full year before the next election. So why the first policy thought bubble out of Malcolm Turnbull is another plebiscite, this time regarding republic?

Australia might be heading for another plebiscite — this time to test support for an Australian republic, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said today.

Speaking at Sydney’s North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club, Mr Turnbull said a plebiscite or postal survey would be a way to kickstart debate ahead of a binding referendum on the matter, if Queen Elizabeth’s reign happened to end during his term as PM.

According to The Australian , Mr Turnbull, a staunch republican who led the failed 1999 referendum, said it was pointless “pretending that there is an appetite for change when there isn’t one”, but that a postal survey could serve to reignite the debate.

“I think the first thing that you would need to do is to have an honest open discussion about how a president would be elected … (and) whether the president would be chosen by parliament in a bipartisan two-thirds majority — as proposed in ‘99 — or directly elected,” he said.

Republic is another one of these issues so beloved by the inner city elites of all the political parties, which is wholly symbolic, and has zero practical relevance to the lives of an overwhelming majority of Australians – certainly even less than the issue of same-sex marriage. Should we one day become a republic, it won’t make one iota of a difference to Australia’s standing or well-being as a nation and society; it won’t create jobs or improve productivity, it won’t make Australians healthier or better educated, it won’t lower the cost of living or improve the quality of life, it won’t make our country safer or more cohesive. And yet, we are likely to be wasting even more time debating the matter, all seemingly to make Malcolm and Bill Shorten happy. Meanwhile, the major party vote keeps declining with every election, I’m sure in part because so many average punters can’t see the majors being concerned about anything remotely of interest to their own lives and livelihoods.

And while the plebiscite seems to be the new black, why not introduce Citizen Initiated Referenda, common in Switzerland and throughout the United States? CIRs have a bad reputation on the account of being in the past pushed by the League of Rights and other such pleasant and mainstream groups. But if our political elites genuinely now care what the people of Australia think about a whole range of policy matters, why restrict ourselves to non-binding postal plebiscites about SSM and republic only when you can have a binding direction from the people at the election time about many other matters, including some that people in the mortgage belt actually feel passionately about?

Let the democracy shine, Malcolm and Bill!