State leaders in Australia have shown their support for the country to become a republic, by signing a petition to remove Queen Elizabeth II as their Head of State and replace her with a president.
The head of the Australian Republic Movement (ARM), Peter FitzSimons, has secured signatures from seven of the eight state and territory leader in Australia yesterday on Australia Day. While these leaders are not part of the executive and therefore cannot enforce such a change, the public showing of support is worrying.
It was Colin Barnett, representing Western Australia, who declined to sign, though he did support the motion: he “did not think that the time is right .. to prosecute the argument for constitutional change”.
Many Australians cherish The Queen and her role in the country’s government, and there seems to be little rush from the people to push this measure through quickly. Some have suggested it should take place after Her Majesty’s death., which is what republican PM Malcolm Turnbull said last year, after taking over from Monarchist Tony Abbott.
“The next occasion for the republic referendum to come up is going to be after the Queen’s reign,” Turnbull said, also citing other
“This is an indication to the Prime Minister,” FitzSimons said. “The significance of this is, if you want the majority of people from the majority of states [to back a republic in a referendum], well, the premiers and chief ministers are behind you. That’s a hell of a start.”
The issue for many politicians is that The Queen resides in London and therefore is not at the heart of Australian business; she does however have a Governor-General who acts on her behalf when she is not there. Her Majesty is kept up to date with the goings on in her realms and the Commonwealth, as a personal interest and as Head of State.
Mr FitzSimons favours the idea of the Prime Minister nominating a Governor-General; after Parliament approves this choice, they become Head of State – effectively President.