Prime Minister Julia Gillard wants Australia to become a republic at the end of the present reign. According to Matthew Franklin in The Australian (17/10) she plans to lead a national debate on the form the republic would take.
In a confusing twist she pre-empted the debate she plans to lead by earlier slamming the model in which the people elect the president.
This is certain to exacerbate divisions among republicans. In the meantime, a national commercial TV network had to call off a televised debate when the ARM claimed they could not find a speaker to appear against ACM in Sydney on Wednesday morning. Sydney's population is about 4.5 million.
…people not interested…
After the 2008 2020 Summit where the governance panel voted 98:1 to end non- existing constitution links with the UK and declare some undefined vague republic, she told the ABC on 20 April 2008 that in her opinion, people were ready to start talking again about the issue.
She was wrong.
It was clear the people are not interested, a fact she recently acknowledged in an interview with The Age (13/8 – see videos below).
She endorsed the use of two plebiscites before a referendum, but in slamming the model in which the people elect the president effectively pre-empted the process.
…I am a republican, but…
The Prime Minister was campaigning for the coming federal election in Townsville on 17 August, 2010. The question will be asked whether this was intended as a distraction from the real issues.
In any event she told Jacob Saulwick of The Age that the most appropriate time to move towards a new model of government would be after The Queen's current reign.
To base constiutional change on the demise of the Sovereign is at the very least in extremely bad taste. This was precisely the point raised with ACM by a major Japanese media outlet, indicating the Japanese reaction to such an appalling proposal.
The proposal is also illogical. If the public interest demands change then it should be considered now. Any proposal for constitutional change should be based on the public interest. It should be to improve governance, not to extend the role of the political class.
"I am obviously a republican," Ms Gillard she insisted. "I believe that this nation should be a republic. I also believe that this nation has got a deep affection for Queen Elizabeth.
"What I would like to see as the prime minister is that we work our way through to an agreement on a republic. But I think the appropriate time for this nation to be a republic will be when we see the monarch change."
Ms Gillard added told Mr. Saulwick that she obviously wanted to see Queen Elizabeth live a long and happy life.
"Having watched her mother, there's every chance that she will," she said.
…Tony Abbott is not…
Mr. Saulwick noted that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is the former head of the group Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, and in 2008 told the group's youth wing: "To me, supporting the monarchy is as natural as respecting your parents; it's as right as not lightly changing your football team."