Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday said the country should be a republic, but he held that no attempt to attain the objective should be made till Queen Elizabeth was on the throne. Turnbull proposed that after her reign, Australia should have its directly elected or appointed president.
In 1999, he had led the “yes” camp, though unsuccessfully, before a referendum on whether Australia should become a republic. Turnbull believes that those against the cause felt that the new system would become a “politicians’ republic” because the referendum had suggested appointing the president with bipartisan support from Parliament. Such a process would create an “alternate centre of political power to the prime minister and the parliament”, he said, according to The Guardian.
The prime minister said that the Coalition and Labor had been “united” against the direct election model. Advocacy group The Australian Republican Movement should garner the “broadest range of political support to minimise the opposition [to a republic] wherever possible”. He also suggested an advisory plebiscite to offer a choice of the two models. “I doubt if there would be much support for a president with different, let alone wider, powers than the governor general. So the question would relate solely to the method of appointment,” Turnbull said.
The Australian leader further stressed on the importance of timing in making the proposal again. He said Queen Elizabeth was “so admired and respected that few of us can say – whether monarchists or republicans – that we are not Elizabethans”. Australians would not welcome or support “another republic referendum during her reign”, he added.