The prospect of the Republic of Australia is looking ever more likely after it was announced yesterday that Republicans now head both of Australia’s main political parties. Multimillionaire former merchant banker Malcolm Turnbull was named leader of the opposition defeating his opponent by 4 votes. This election comes after Former Prime Minister, Royalist and conservative John Howard, who led the country for over 10 years, was defeated in the General Election earlier this year by avid Labour Republican Kevin Rudd.
It is a well known fact that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s centre-left Labour government supports Australia becoming a republic by replacing the Queen’s representative in Australia, the governor-general, with a President. However by becoming a republic in all intents and purposes the formation of the Australian political structure would not change all that much. The President would be entirely symbolic in the same sense as the Queen is now however the only distinction is he or she would be Austrailian by birth.
Despite being a Republican, the new leader of the opposition Malcom Turnbull has stated that he would not push the republican issue until the Queen, who is more popular in Australia than the monarchy itself, had died. He states that to push for a referendum now would be pointless because the Queen remains personaly popular in Australia which resulted in the previous referendum, held in 1999, being decisively defeated.
However one cannot ignore the fact that Australia is one monarch away from becoming a Republic. I believe it is highly symbolic that for the first time republicans now head both the main conservative opposition and the government. As the Queen herself has said on many occasions: Australias future is for Australians to decide. We must respect that however much we may disagree.