Sydney, Australia, Sep 12 (EFE).- Now is not the time to discuss the holding of another referendum on Australia becoming a republic, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Monday as the funeral for the country’s former head of state Queen Elizabeth II was being prepared.
“It’s not appropriate now … to talk about constitutional change. What is appropriate right now is to commemorate the life of service of Queen Elizabeth II,” the Labor Party leader told public broadcaster ABC.
His statements came after renewed calls for Australia to become a republic following the death last Thursday of Elizabeth II at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
This idea was explored by some politicians and citizens who considered that the end of the reign of Elizabeth II, who died at the age of 96 after 70 years on the throne, could mark a constitutional change in the country.
But Albanese plans to hold a referendum on becoming a republic should he be re-elected, given that his priority this term is to recognize the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the constitution.
“I’ve made it clear that my position our constitutional arrangements have not changed. The Australian Labor Party position is clear. But this is a time where Australians expect their prime minister to act in accordance with the constitutional arrangements which are there in place now,” he later said at a press conference in Canberra.
A large part of Australia’s almost 25 million population are “Elizabethans” rather than monarchists, as former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said when he led the republican movement in the 1999 referendum, in which votes in favor of becoming a republic achieved 45.13 percent, compared to 54.87 percent who supported the current system.
However, more than 20 years later, 34 percent of Australians want the country to become a republic, while 40 percent are in favor of maintaining the monarchy and 26 percent are undecided, according to an Ipsos poll in January last year.
For John Warhurst, an expert in political science at the Australian National University, there has to be time for people to mourn the death of Elizabeth II before the republic debate is reopened.
“That means a timetable for a second republican referendum, given King Charles has come to the throne in 2022, is at best five to ten years away (after the 2025 federal election at the earliest),” said the academic in an article published Monday in The Conversation.
By that time Charles III, who was officially proclaimed Australia’s head of state on Sunday, “will be close to 80 years of age or even older,” he added.
Currently, the British monarchs are head of states of the United Kingdom, as well as other countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, among others. EFE