last night. He should not have given a speech at the Australian Republican Movement dinner. He should not even have attended the dinner.
Yes, he was once the leader of the ARM. Yes, he "supports a republic". Both those things are well known facts.
At the present time he is also the Prime Minister. Despite ARM claims to the contrary there is no strong support inside his party for a change. Possibly there is even no strong support for a change inside parliament.
Asked by the ARM some politicians are liable to say "yes, we support your idea that we should become a republic" but it is not an issue they feel strongly about. If it was they would be demanding action on the issue.
The reality is that there are much more important issues that need to be addressed. "Becoming a republic" is not important. It is not important because, as politicians are aware, Downunder is already a completely independent nation. It is already, to all intents and purposes, a republic.
The issue of "becoming a republic" is raised every so often. It is raised as a distraction from more important issues. It is raised in the knowledge that it is an emotive issue, that those in favour of it can stir up nationalistic sentiment - something not lacking anyway. They are prepared to lie and suggest the country has not yet "grown up" and that it is somehow "dependent". What utter rubbish.
"Becoming a republic" would cost billions. It is not, as the ARM would have people believe, a simple matter of a single vote. A declaration of "we are now a republic" is not enough. A single act of federal parliament would not solve all the legislative requirements or issues of authority.
Malcolm Turnbull is proving to be one of the most unpopular Prmie Ministers Downunder has ever had. There are a range of issues he should be working on, issues the future of Downunder depends on - such as power generation and supply.
He should not be thinking about a different sort of power issue.