Elizabeth should be Australia's last queen, says PM
Published 18/08/2010 | 05:00
Queen Elizabeth should be Australia's last monarch and the country should become a republic when she dies, according to its prime minister.
Julia Gillard, who was born in Wales and moved to Australia with her parents aged five, acknowledged that many Australians had "deep affection" for the British queen, but said that the status quo could not remain.
"What I would like to see as prime minister is that we work our way through to an agreement on a model for the republic," she said during an election campaign stop in Queensland.
"I think the appropriate time for this nation to move to be a republic is when we see the monarch change. Obviously, I'm hoping for the queen that she lives a long and happy life, and I think there's every chance she will."
Australia is a constitutional monarchy, which means that the British queen, as head of state, has the same formal role as she does in Britain.
Her representative, the governor-general, is in charge of the army and must give assent to all laws passed by parliament.
In a referendum in 1999, Australians voted 'No' despite strong public support for republicanism. At the time, the republican movement blamed the result on the confusing way the ballot paper had dealt with varying options for appointing a president.
Since 1999, the issue has largely slipped off the agenda. During a trip by Prince William to Australia last year, a poll found that support for changing the nation's constitutional-monarchy status had fallen from 55pc in the 1990s to 44pc.
One ardent supporter of the monarchy is Tony Abbott, the man Ms Gillard hopes to beat in the Australian election on Saturday. Mr Abbott is the former head of the group Australians for Constitutional Monarchy and campaigned passionately for the 'No' vote in 1999.
Responding to Ms Gillard's remarks, Mr Abbott said, "This republican cause has been with us for a long time, but the Australian people have demonstrated themselves to be remarkably attached to institutions that work." (© Daily Telegraph, London)