The move for Australia to break away from the monarchy has picked up serious momentum today, with all but one of Australia’s state premiers and chief ministers signing a declaration calling for an Australian head of state.
The statement — which declares “We, the undersigned premiers and chief ministers of Australia, believe that Australians should have an Australian as our head of state” — was signed by all premiers and chief ministers except WA’s Colin Barnett.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has also supported the move. The noted republican issued a statement through his office confirming his “commitment to Australia having an Australian as head of state is undiminished”.
Australian Republican Movement chairman Peter FitzSimon says the declaration — as well as an online campaign that’s been signed by more than 4,000 people — is timed to take advantage of Australia Day celebrations.
“It is time to get moving, and I must say I was thrilled by how enthusiastic the premiers were,” Mr FitzSimons told ABC News Breakfast this morning.
“All of Australia’s political leaders now support an Australian head of state, including Malcolm Turnbull and [Opposition Leader] Bill Shorten.
“Never before have the stars of the Southern Cross been so aligned in pointing to the dawn of a new republican age for Australia.”
The lone dissident, Colin Barnett, is actually a republican himself and even campaigned for a republic ahead of the 1999 referendum, but says he does not think “the time is right” to push for constitutional change.
In 2010, Barnett appeared on Q&A and warned that “if anyone wants to introduce a republic, dissolve the Australian Federation and the Constitution, then the risk is Western Australia may not rejoin”.
In a statement issued today, the Australian Monarchist League’s national chair Philip Benwell denounced the push as being based on the will of politicians, rather than the will of the people.
“This petition is calling for a republic which will be based on the will of politicians, which is evidenced by so many premiers and politicians supporting it.”
Mr Benwell disputed the notion that we do not already have an Australian head of state, saying “it is quite clear” the Queen is merely a sovereign head of state, and the Governor-General is executive head of state.
What do you think? Is it time for Australia to become a Republic? Vote in our poll and have your say in the comments below!
Last time we polled Bmag readers, we asked you whether it was time to introduce daylight savings in Queensland. A resounding 51 per cent of you voted in the affirmative, with 18.83 per cent voting that only select parts of the state should adopt the practice, 17.69 per cent voting to maintain the status quo, and 12.48 per cent voting that not only should we not adopt daylight savings, but New South Wales should scrap it, too.