Hong Kong Chamber: A Letter From Canberra
As a member of the republican movement, I’m delighted the idea of an Australian republic is back in the news thanks to Labor Leader Bill Shorten.
In 1999, the republic referendum was defeated.
The Australian Capital Territory – the community I represent – was the only state or territory that voted yes, with an overwhelming 63 percent.
But recent polling suggests Australia’s current opinion on a republic may now be more in line with the ACT’s views of 1999.
An Essential Report poll just before Australia Day this year showed 44 percent of Australians support a republic with an Australian head of state, 30 percent oppose and 26 percent remain undecided.
The republican movement is supported by the Prime Minister. As part of an Australian Republican Movement campaign in 2016, seven of Australia’s eight leaders signed a declaration supporting the end of the constitutional monarchy.
The declaration posed the simple proposition that "Australia should have an Australian head of state”.
In a recent speech to the ARM, Bill Shorten said a future Shorten Labor Government will put the issue to a referendum in its first term.
He added that the movement is not about disrespecting Queen Elizabeth.
“We can vote for a republic and still win gold medals at the Commonwealth games.
“We can vote for a republic and recognise that Will and Kate have two seriously cute kids.
“We can vote for a republic and still binge-watch The Crown on Netflix.
"And we can vote for a republic without derailing the business of government, or the priorities of this nation," he said.
A Shorten Labor Government referendum will ask whether we want an Australian to be our head of state.
If a yes vote prevails, then there can be a discussion about how the new head of state is chosen.
It’s time we just got on with it.