Australia swore in its first-ever deputy republican premier last week, sparking speculation the new prime minister could push for a republican referendum.
- The Prime Minister has in the past shown his support for the transition to a republican model
- The Australian Republican Movement presented its favorite model republic
- Any move toward a referendum would come after a vote to recognize indigenous peoples in the constitution
Anthony Albanese has openly displayed his support for the transition to a republican model.
But according to the barrister of the republic and author Dennis Altman, Australia is unlikely to hold a vote anytime soon.
“Anthony Albanese made it clear during the campaign that his first priority for constitutional change was Indigenous recognition,” he told the ABC News Daily podcast.
“That means the republic, inevitably, is the second order of the day.
‘In fact, I think he hinted that it’s something that wouldn’t even be raised unless there was a second re-elected Labor government in three years.’
Members of the Republican movement celebrated the swearing in of Sydney Labor MP Matt Thistlethwaite as Deputy Minister for the Republic. However, it is still unclear what the new position entails.
“It costs nothing to call someone deputy republican minister, and it probably warms the heart-shells of what I suspect are a dwindling number of staunch republicans, many of whom are of course staunch Labor supporters,” he said. said Mr. Altman.
Mr Thistlethwaite told ABC News Daily that his role will initially be one of education.
“[It’s about] explaining to people that we have a foreign monarch as head of state, we have a proxy in the Governor General, but we can have an Australian as head of state,” he said.
“An Australian republic is about celebrating our independence and our unique culture and identity.”
He also confirmed that establishing a voice in Parliament for First Nations people was the Government’s priority, but he wanted to “restart the serious conversation about what comes next for Australia after the end of the reign of the Queen Elizabeth”.
A confusing republican model
Proponents of Australia becoming a republic want to remove the Queen as head of state and have an Australian citizen elected to the post.
This representative head of state would not set government policy or pass laws, and the role would be primarily ceremonial.
The Australian Republican Movement recently proposed a new republic model that would see each state parliament, as well as the federal parliament, select a candidate for head of state.
The public would then vote for their preferred representative.
But Mr. Altman thinks the voting system is too complicated.
“It’s basically an attempt by the republican movement to, on the one hand, make sure that we don’t get a crazy dingbat as head of state, but at the same time that the people really have his say,” he said.
“And I think one of the real problems with that is that it’s almost impossible in a country where there are deep political divisions to find a method that everyone will be comfortable with.”
The fondness for the queen runs deep
Australia held a republican referendum in 1999. It failed and the issue has not been high on the political agenda since.
“That is to say, we think it’s a good idea in theory, we’re not quite sure how to go about it, and it’s really not that important because in reality it doesn’t change much. “
There is also a strong level of support in Australia for the incumbent monarch.
Queen Elizabeth II celebrated 70 years on the throne this weekend.
“The reality is that we all grew up with it,” Mr. Altman said.
“We have all grown up with relentless and constant images of the royal family, comings and goings, divorces, deaths, marriages through it all.
A republic may never come
Despite a new Labor government that strongly supports a republic, Dennis Altman is not sure Australia will ever become one.
“The head of state is someone who lives in London, but the emotional ties, the lure of permanence, the idea that somehow we’ve managed to find a system that takes the head of state away from day-to-day political intrigue, I think, goes quite far.
“So, you know, if I was much younger, I would say yes, of course, at some point we will become a republic.
“More cynically, my hunch is that we may not become a republic until the British decide to become a republic.”