Australian PM says republic referendum not his priority
Albanese, who describes himself as the first candidate with a ‘non-Anglo-Celtic name’ to run for prime minister in the office’s 121-year existence, had created a new post of deputy minister for the republic and appointed Matt Thistlethwaite to role in June. Thistlethwaite had said there would be no change in the Queen’s life.
“Now is not the time to talk about our system of government,” Albanese told Australian Broadcasting Corp. sunday. “Now is the time for us to honor the life of Queen Elizabeth, a life well lived, a life of dedication and loyalty, including to the people of Australia and for us to honor and mourn.”
Albanese has previously said a Republican referendum was not a priority in his first three-year term in government.
During her long reign, the Queen connected with Australia in a way that no monarch before her had.
In 1954, she became the only reigning British monarch to visit Australia. Such was her star power, around 70% of the Australian population turned out to see her during a harrowing two-month itinerary that took her and her husband, Prince Philip, to 57 cities and towns spread across over vast distances. She has been there 16 times, the last time in 2011 when she was 85.
His face is the only monarch to appear on Australian currency since the introduction of decimal coinage in 1966, when Australian dollars and cents replaced British-style pounds, shillings and pence.
His eldest son, King Charles IIIwas formally proclaimed Australia’s head of state on Sunday by the monarch’s Australian representative, Governor-General David Hurley, in a ceremonial ceremony in Parliament that ended with a 21-gun salute.
Albanese is already planning a referendum in the current term that would enshrine an Indigenous voice in Parliament in the Australian Constitution. Although the details have yet to be finalized, the voice would provide a mechanism for indigenous representatives to address parliament about laws that affect their lives.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton, a monarchist, also avoided questions about why Australia needs a king.
The Australian Republic Movement, an organization which campaigns for Australia to become a republic and is not affiliated with any political party, has been widely criticized for a political statement issued shortly after news of the Queen’s death was announced.
The statement referred to the Queen’s comments regarding a 1999 referendum which voted to keep the British monarch as head of Australia’s state.
“The Queen backed Australians’ right to become a fully independent nation in the referendum… saying she has ‘always made it clear that the future of the monarchy in Australia is a matter for the Australian people and only them to decide. decide, through democratic and constitutional means,” the statement read.
That referendum largely failed because Australians were divided over what kind of president they wanted. The monarch is represented in Australia by a Governor-General who, for decades, has always been an Australian citizen. The governor general is appointed by the monarch on the advice of the prime minister.
The referendum recommended that the monarch and the monarch’s representative be replaced by a president chosen by at least two-thirds of parliament’s lawmakers. But many Republicans wanted voters to elect the president as they do in the United States, so they joined the monarchists in opposing the then-proposed Republican model.
The minor Greens, which is influential in the Senate where no party holds a majority of seats, has also been criticized for uplifting the republic hours after the Queen’s death.
“Now Australia must move forward. We need a treaty with First Nations people and we must become a republic,” Greens leader Adam Bandt tweeted on Friday. Australia is rare among the countries of the former British Empire to have no treaty with its indigenous peoples.
Support for the republican movement grew in 1975, when Governor General John Kerr used the authority of Queen Elizabeth II to fire Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam to end a constitutional crisis. There were suspicions that the British royal family had asked Kerr to bring down a democratically elected Australian government.
Historian and biographer Whitlam Jenny Hocking fought a four-year legal battle to have correspondence between Kerr and Buckingham Palace released by the National Archives of Australia in 2020. Lower courts have accepted that letters between the monarch and the governor-general, two central figures in the Australian Constitution, were personal and may never be made public.
But the High Court ruled in favor of Hocking in a 6-1 majority decision that allowed the letters to be published.
Kerr fired Whitlam to end a month-old senatorial stalemate. Kerr appointed opposition leader Malcolm Fraser interim prime minister on the condition that Fraser immediately call an election, which Labor lost.
While the Queen was the monarch at the time, King Charles and then Prince Charles also influenced Kerr’s decision to sack Whitlam, Hocking said.
Charles had discussed with Kerr the possibility of sacking Whitlam three months before Kerr became the only Governor-General to bring down an Australian government.
“It’s clearly an influence on Kerr’s decision to dismiss the government – there’s no question about that,” Hocking said. “It’s a terrible implication. It doesn’t do anyone any favors to pretend that it doesn’t. We have to recognize it. »
Albanese said the 1975 crisis reinforced the need for an Australian head of state instead of a British monarch.
John Howard, a monarchist who was Prime Minister when Australians voted against severing their constitutional ties to their former colonial master, said those ties can survive the Queen’s death.
“The strength of the monarchy in Australia has been increased immeasurably by the Queen’s personal popularity,” Howard said. “That doesn’t mean it won’t continue. It will continue in another form.