Death of Elizabeth II raises debate on constitutional monarchy in Australia

By Rocio Otoya

Sydney, Australia, Sep 13 (EFE).- The death of Queen Elizabeth II has raised a debate over constitutional monarchy in Australia, where she was the head of state, commanding a strong respect among the population.

However, her death has now opened the door to the Oceanic country declaring itself a republic.

The government, which proclaimed Charles III as the new monarch on Sunday, has has sent out messages of admiration for the now deceased queen and declared Sep.22 a national day of mourning, while thousands of Australians are depositing bouquets and offerings throughout the nation in her memory.

“When we get a new head of state decided for us, not by us, we should be able to have honest & respectful discussions,” Greens Party leader Adam Brandt tweeted Tuesday, and stressed on the need for becoming a republic.

Since the death of Elizabeth II on Thursday at the age of 96, the media have repeatedly asked Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese about his electoral promise to hold a referendum on constitutional monarchy if re-elected.

“I think this is a time where a bit of respect is required, and, you know, we will deal with these issues appropriately, and in an orderly way, in a way that is respectful, so I have not turned my attention towards that matter,” Albanese said in a press conference Tuesday.

He is set to attend the queen’s funeral in London this week.

For many, Elizabeth II has been a beloved figure since she becoming the first British monarch to visit Australia in 1954, which was a British colony until 1901. She traveled to the Oceanic country 15 times since then.

“I said the next time we vote on this will not be before the end of the Queen’s reign. Well, the Queen’s reign has ended,” former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the BBC recently.

Constitutional monarchy continues to enjoy majority support in Australia, as reflected in a survey published Tuesday by consultancy firm Roy Morgan, in which 60 percent of respondents wanted to maintain the current system while 40 percent wanted to move towards becoming a republic.

“The world is still changing at a frenetic rate and perhaps most Australians might prefer to hold on to the constancy of the monarchy as a symbol, especially as we have a robust parliamentary democracy and make our own national decisions,” said an editorial published Monday by the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

In May, in a bid to explore a possible constitutional change, Albanese, a well-known Republican, appointed Matt Thistlethwaite as Assistant Minister for the Republic, an unprecedented position in the country to study a possible transition.

Besides Australia, Queen Elizabeth II was also the head of state of New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu, Pacific islands where the British Empire was the dominant for centuries.

However, in these countries the urgency of starting a debate on constitutional monarchy has not emerged with such force as in Australia.

On Monday, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ruled out a referendum on a referendum on a change towards a republic while she is in office, but felt that it would change in due course of time.

In February, a survey by the consultancy firm Colman Brunton on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Elizabeth II’s reign revealed 48 percent of New Zealanders supported maintaining ties with the British monarchy. EFE


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