Let’s talk: Should Australia become a republic?

Bill Shorten announced his intentions today. Image: YouTube: SBS Amharic

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has made an early election promise today: if he wins, Aussies will head to the polls again to vote on whether the country should become a republic.

The next federal election won’t be until 2019, so the change would be a while off. And even if the answer is resoundingly positive, we won’t see immediate change; Labor will then have to “work on a referendum to determine how the head of state is chosen”, The Daily Telegraph reports.

“We will put a simple – a straightforward yes or no question to the Australian people,” Shorten said in his statement. “One question: Do you support an Australian republic with an Australian head or state – yes or no?”

While Shorten believes the “answer will probably be yes”, he’s determined to let the people decide for themselves.

He was also quick to make assurances about how monarchists might view this change.

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“And let me say this does not change our respect for the queen or her service. But we are not Elizabethan. We are Australians. Our head of state should be an Australian, too. It is time we just got on with this, and we will,” Shorten said.

His remarks come just weeks after Malcolm Turnbull, the current prime minister, met with the Queen on a visit to England and declared himself an “Elizabethan” and said he was “honoured” to meet her. 

As the co-founder of the Australian Republican Movement, Turnbull has his own plans to turn Australia into a republic, but he doesn’t believe that a referendum on the matter would be supported during the Queen’s reign.

Do you think the time is right for Australia to become a republic?