Do you approve of an Act to alter the Constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic with the Queen and Governor General being replaced by a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament?
Such a confusing question, what? I can see how 72% of electorates, 54.87% of voters and every state could reject the proposed changes on such an ambiguous and poorly worded question.
Incidentally, it was Australian Republican Movement leader Malcolm Turnbull (I think I've heard his name recently) who proposed the word 'president' and 'republic' be removed.
Now, I am no fan of Howard, Ifound his administration to be both unconservative and downright incompetent and times, not to mention profligate in its spending ($800,000 dollars spent on a few hundred refugees under the Pacific Solution for Gods sake. If you are going to lock refugees up at least try and do it economically). But had he rigged the referendum, it would have been such an immense breach of Australian law and constitution there would have been no end of legal challenges launched by the republicans. There were none. Why? Because Howard did everything according to the constitutional requirements and protocols.
As for the illogical statement that 'a No vote was not a vote for the monarchy' that is like saying 'a Labor vote was not a vote against the Liberals'. Not a perfect analogy I admit*, but it illustrates the farce.
*There are more than two parties, there were only two choices in the referendum.