Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has renewed his call for an independent Australia, saying his country should become a republic after the reign of British Queen Elizabeth II is over.
Australia is currently a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy, with the British queen at its official head even as her role is seen as largely ceremonial.
The prime minister renewed his call for Australia to break away from the British monarchy during a Saturday speech at the Australian Republican Movement (ARM)’s 25th anniversary dinner.
Turnbull helped found ARM in 1991 and chaired the republican movement from 1993-2000. In 1999, the movement faced defeat in a referendum on independence, which he had spearheaded.
He insisted at the ARM gathering that the issue required a “grassroots” movement to succeed.
The premier said an advisory plebiscite would also be “absolutely critical” to determine which form of government would lead the potential republic. “We would need to have an advisory plebiscite which would offer a choice between two republican models, presumably direct election and parliamentary appointment.”
“The less party political the republican movement is, the broader its base, the deeper its grassroots, the better positioned it will be when the issue becomes truly salient again,” the Australian leader said.
Turnbull said that now was not the right time for another referendum on independence and that the issue will be followed up after Queen Elizabeth II’s reign had ended. He admitted that the issue was now less urgent for the nation.
“Today, if anything, it is more a slow burner than it was 20 years ago,” he said, adding, “It’s not something that keeps most of us awake at night.”
Turnbull said his support for a republic stemmed from patriotism.
“We do not diminish or disrespect the patriotism of those who take a different view, but we have no other motive, no other reason than love of country,” he said.
Meanwhile, opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten has criticized the PM for not following the republican cause more rigorously. Shorten said in a post on Twitter that Turnbull must not submit to the will of the people within his party who oppose a breakup from Britain. “Time for the PM to lead his party, not follow,” he said.