Expats thumb their nose at change

The Age, 2 September 1999.

By David Reardon

Bill and Tony follow English soccer, drink English beer and despite living in Australia for many years have not bothered getting citizenship. But, come November, they will join about 300,000 expatriate British citizens voting on whether their adopted home should become a republic. Both men will vote no.

"Most expats believe if it′s not broken why fix it. After all, the Queen is not a bad old bird and while Charles is a bit of ponce, he′s all right if you look hard enough," said Bill Dawson, of Rockingham in Western Australia.

Although Mr Dawson has not taken Australian citizenship, he has the right to vote because he migrated before 1984. "I reckon I deserve a vote. I have probably paid more tax than most of those peanuts who are on the dole," he said.

If Mr Dawson, 53, and his mate, Tony Hale, 51, are representative of expatriates, then non-Australian citizens could determine the outcome of the referendum.

Republicans fear the high number of expatriates in WA and South Australia – twice the national average of 7.5 per cent British-born residents – could swing the referendum. "Voting against the republic is not about home ties – I just think the whole thing is wasting too much money," Mr Hale said.