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New PM Albanese raises prospect of removing Queen Elizabeth as Australia’s head of state

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Anthony Albanese

Anthony Albanese

Anthony Albanese

Australia’s newly elected leader yesterday created the role of “assistant minister for the republic”, raising the prospect of a referendum on whether to replace Queen Elizabeth as head of state.

Anthony Albanese, the centre-left Labour prime minister, took the step towards a possible vote just two days before platinum jubilee celebrations for the British queen begin tomorrow.

Matt Thistlethwaite, a Sydney MP, will take up the new post, which was greeted by the Australian Republic Movement.

“We are on our way!” Peter FitzSimons, a prominent republican, author and former rugby international, said.

“For the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, Australia has a member of the Government singularly devoted to removing the Crown, and helping Australia become a republic,” he added.

Mr Albanese named his cabinet after it was confirmed that the Labour Party had a majority in parliament. The 23 members include a record 10 women.

Previous Labour leaders have promised a referendum on removing the queen but a vote was not part of Mr Albanese’s manifesto. Mr Albanese, a long-time republican, has previously described the change as “inevitable”.

Some 55pc of Australians voted against becoming a republic in a referendum in 1999. The victory for the monarchy was put down to disagreement over a proposal that the queen’s replacement would be chosen by politicians in parliament and not the Austrlian public.

Mr Albanese said yesterday that Labour had secured enough votes in the May 21 federal elections to govern in its own right and without the support of minor parties and independents. The new parliament will open on July 26.

“We had a good story to tell,” he told the Labour caucus as he outlined plans to form a federal anti-corruption commission, review wasteful spending and announce a budget in October.

“We weren’t intimidated by anyone, we didn’t get distracted, we stayed on course and the discipline we showed was magnificent.”

Any move towards a referendum on the republic is not expected until after another national plebiscite on giving Indigenous Australians an institutional role in policymaking.

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A Vote Compass poll for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation this year showed a slight increase in support for Australia becoming a republic since elections in 2019. About 43pc agreed ties with the monarchy should be cut, compared with about 39pc in 2019.  

Labour won 77 seats, a majority in the 151-seat House of Representatives. 

The previous conservative coalition government conceded after the vote but close results in some seats and high levels of postal voting had kept the final tally uncertain. 

The two parties which make up the defeated coalition, the Liberal Party of Australia and the National Party of Australia, elected new leaders after entering opposition for the first time in nine years. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2022)

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]


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