Australia’s Republic plans on hold: Monarchy still running

The prospect of Australia transitioning to a republic and severing ties with the monarchy has recently faced a temporary setback, with the government signaling a pause on plans to hold a vote to remove King Charles III as the nation’s head of state.

King Charles III, king of Australia
Photo courtesy: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Australian government has recently communicated a temporary suspension of plans to conduct a vote aimed at dismissing King Charles III as the nation’s head of state. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has long advocated for a referendum to transition to a republic, yet a government minister conveyed to local media that such an action currently lacks priority and a defined timeline.

Notably, the government had previously announced an anticipated visit from King Charles later in the year. A government spokesperson highlighted the Prime Minister’s amicable rapport with Charles, as expressed in a statement to The Australian. However, Buckingham Palace has yet to confirm this scheduled visit.

These statements ensue following a prior year’s defeat for the government in a distinct referendum, wherein Australians decisively rejected a proposal aiming to grant greater political rights to Indigenous communities. All six states voted against amending the constitution to acknowledge First Nations people, with proponents envisioning a transformative era and opponents labeling it as divisive.

When questioned about the government’s intentions regarding a republic-focused referendum, a minister informed The Australian that the issue presently lacks priority.

Assistant Minister for the Republic Matt Thistlethwaite, in response to further inquiries on ABC, emphasized the absence of a definitive timeline, emphasizing the urgency of addressing cost-of-living concerns amidst rising inflation and interest rates, aligning with challenges faced by people in various nations, including Australia.

Thistlethwaite affirmed the Labor Party’s enduring intention for Australia to eventually sever ties with the UK Royal Family, despite the nation’s rejection of such a proposal in the 1999 referendum. Prime Minister Albanese previously underscored the inevitability of an Australian republic and appointed Thistlethwaite as the nation’s inaugural minister dedicated to advancing this cause.

Renowned Australian actor Hugh Jackman echoed sentiments favoring a detachment from the UK’s Royal Family, considering it a natural progression for Australia. However, he conveyed goodwill towards King Charles and extended well wishes to the royal family.

Chris Hipkins, New Zealand’s former PM and current opposition leader, similarly identifies as a republican, foreseeing his own country’s eventual departure from the monarchy. In 2021, Barbados became the most recent nation to transition into a republic by removing Elizabeth II as its head of state while choosing to remain within the Commonwealth.

During the official transition in Barbados, Prince Charles, then the Prince of Wales, acknowledged the historical impact of slavery endured by the Caribbean island during British colonial rule.

Barbados’ transition marked the most recent instance of a nation removing the British monarch as head of state, following Mauritius in 1992.

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