Two definitive historical events of the past quarter-century have determined the agenda for 21st-century Australia: the dismissal of the Whitlam government by Governor General John Kerr in November 1975; and the defeat of the republican cause in the referendum of November 1999.

Close to 55 percent of the Australian electorate rejected the proposal to sever ties with the crown in last Saturday's referendum. In addition, the latest counting suggests that the one state, Victoria, that seemed to have chosen republicanism has actually slipped into the "no" camp. It may be only the citizens of the Australian Capital Territory, the district in which Canberra is located, who for now believe that supreme power rests with the people's elected representatives.

The outrage and bitter recriminations of the losers and the I-told-you-so justifications of the victors may dominate the media in Australia for some time. This referendum has touched every nerve of Australian politics.