Monday 22 January 2018

Australian PM starts campaign for a new republic

Caution: Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Getty Images
Caution: Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Getty Images

Jonathan Pearlman Sydney

Australia's prime minister has outlined a road map for breaking away from Britain, renewing calls for a republic Down Under.

In Malcolm Turnbull's first speech on the topic since he took the leadership last year, the staunch republican called for a two-stage voting process, with a plebiscite to determine the election model before a referendum on whether or not Australia should become a republic.

Mr Turnbull said questions about how an Australian head of state would be elected - in a US presidential-style election or by parliamentary appointment - weakened support for a republic during a failed 1999 referendum on the topic.

He said his belief in the cause was based on patriotism. "Our head of state should be one of us," he said. "Our president should be a resident. We have no other motive, no other reason than love of our country."

But he urged caution and insisted that the nation should only abandon the monarchy when the Queen's reign ends.

"She is so admired and respected that few of us can say - whether monarchists or republicans - that we are not Elizabethans," he said.

Mr Turnbull delivered his speech at an event in Sydney to mark the 25th anniversary of the Australian Republican Movement, which he co-founded and led during the run-up to the 1999 referendum. The movement's head, Peter FitzSimons, said Mr Turnbull's impassioned support for the cause was "electrifying".

The speech came after a survey of MPs by the Australian Republican Movement found that 81 in the 150-member lower house and 40 in the upper house support a switch. (©Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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