The leaders of seven of Australia’s eight states and territories called for the country to become a republic, reigniting a thorny debate before a national holiday, Reuters reported Monday.
Australia is a constitutional monarchy, with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as head of state.
The role is largely ceremonial, but the monarch does have the power to dissolve Parliament, as she did in 1975, when she sacked the government.
The question of Australia becoming a republic is a perennial debate that often crops up around Australia Day, the Jan. 26 holiday that commemorates the start of British settlement.
“It’s well past time for Australia to become a sovereign nation,” South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill, who signed the declaration, was quoted as saying.
“Any self-respecting, independent country would aspire to select one of its own citizens as its head of state.”
Hopes of a shift in sentiment rose when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a staunch republican, took the leadership last year from his monarchist predecessor Tony Abbott.
“My commitment to Australia having an Australian head of state is undiminished,” Turnbull, who headed the Australian Republican Movement in the 1990s, said in a statement in response to Monday’s declaration.
However, Turnbull has previously said the issue was not a priority and that he believed a national vote would be unlikely during the reign of the 89-year-old queen.
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