Shorten puts republic push on the agenda for next Labor government



July 29, 2017 00:10:43

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has vowed to hold a referendum on whether Australia should become a republic within his first term in office.

Key points:

  • Bill Shorten says if the yes vote prevails then it can be considered how head of state is chosen
  • Second vote could be in a different term of parliament
  • Announcement may place political pressure on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Mr Shorten will tell an Australian Republic Movement event in Melbourne tonight the question will require a simple yes or no answer.

“The first, clear question we ask the people should be whether we want an Australian head of state,” Mr Shorten will say.

“If the yes vote prevails — and I’m optimistic it will — then we can consider how that head of state is chosen.”

The two-stage approach means Australians would need to vote again to decide what form of republic Australia should become, potentially in a different term of government.

Mr Shorten has already prioritised recognition of Indigenous Australians in the constitution and floated the idea of establishing fixed four-year terms of office.

The announcement may place political pressure on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who founded the republican movement and led the yes campaign before the 1999 referendum.

“We cannot risk being caught in a referendum like the last one, where Australians were given one vote to settle two questions,” Mr Shorten will say.

“When a lot of people voted ‘no’, because of the model, not because of the republic.”

The question asked will be: “Do you support an Australian Republic with an Australian Head of State?”

A member of the Labor ministry would also be given responsibility for campaigning for constitutional change before the vote.

The Prime Minister met with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace earlier this month but did not disclose whether he discussed becoming a republic.

“All I can say is … most Australian republicans are Elizabethans as well,” he said.

The staunch republican has previously said he has no plans to push for the republic until the Queen’s reign ends.










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