Australians will vote on ditching King Charles ‘as early as 2025’

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Australians will vote on whether or not they want to ditch the monarchy within two years, a monarchist has claimed. Australia, Antigua and Jamaica are viewed as likely to become republics out of the 14 realms where King Charles III is Head of State. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has already tasked Labour Party MP Matt Thistlethwaite with overseeing Australia’s transition to a republic.

Experts believe the Australian government might pursue such a proposal in two stages with an initial vote on the principle of whether or not to abolish the monarchy and a second to determine how a new Head of State is chosen.

Philip Benwell, National Chair of the Australian Monarchist League, told his association is already preparing for a referendum.

He said: “We are preparing for a referendum in 2025. We feel the Government may go as early as that.”

But Mr Benwell accused the Australian government of trying to indoctrinate voters in a bid to sway them towards voting for a republic.

He claimed Mr Thistlethwaite, who he described as an “ardent republican”, is biased. He said Mr Albanese’s administration is attempting to rig the process by shutting out monarchist views.

He said: “It’s distinctly unfair. It is likely to turn the people against a republic [with it] not being a fair vote.”

Mr Benwell continued: “There will be no funding [available] for the Yes or No cause, but there is no need for funding for Yes because the government is processing that. There will be a lot of things coming into play which are all designed to assist the government in pushing its proposals through. Of course, we will fight this every step of the way.”

He went on to suggest the League’s concerns could result in it taking action in the High Court, adding: “The people must be fully informed of what they are voting for. If the government doesn’t provide proper information, then we believe it is acting against the tenor of the constitution.”

Mr Thistlethwaite and the Australian government were approached for comment.


Sandy Biar, National Director and CEO of the Australian Republican Movement, told support for a republic has surged over the past four months, a period which has seen the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the succession of King Charles and a slew of bombshell allegations from Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.

He said: “Thousands of new supporters have signed up to the campaign. Polls show a majority of Australians support a republic, with less than a third opposed.”

Mr Biar said: “The Federal Government has said it would like to bring forward a referendum on a republic in its second term if elected and has appointed an Assistant Minister for the Republic, the Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP. We could see a referendum on a republic within four years.

“We can do better than inheriting our Head of State from a dysfunctional family on the other side of the planet.”

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He pointed to statistics showing 63 percent of Federal Parliamentarians support Australia becoming a republic with less than 10 percent opposed.

An Ipsos survey published in December showed Australians are split over the monarchy with just over half (54 percent) agreeing Australia should end its formal ties to the British monarchy after the death of Elizabeth II. Forty-six percent disagreed.

Six in 10 of those surveyed believe King Charles and the Windsors should not have any formal role in Australian society with the royals viewed as nothing more than celebrities.

Mr Thistlethwaite told Al Jazeera in November the Australian government would seek a referendum in its second term if it is successful in its plans for a popular vote on a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous “Voice to Parliament”. This is a proposed new advisory group made up of separately elected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Mr Albanese has already told Labour MPs and senators he is aiming for a bigger majority as he eyes a second term in 2025.

On whether Australians will vote to ditch King Charles, Mr Benwell said: “We don’t know. We are keeping our minds open. Since the 1999 referendum the demographics of the country have changed. We have several million new Australians that have come to this country. The ‘Voice to Parliament’ will be an indication, but until we have the republic referendum we won’t really know.”

Dr Bob Morris, Honorary Senior Research Associate at University College London’s Constitution Unit, said: “As I understand it, the Australian Parliament would need to legislate for a referendum and the question that a referendum would put to the electorate on the basis that majorities would, as I understand it, have to be found in all the Australian states.

“This is not a wholly straightforward matter as shown by the failure of the 1999 referendum. A sizeable proportion of the electorate in favour of the change wanted to see popular election of the new Head of State, whereas only a system of Parliamentary appointment was on offer. In the circumstances support for the change was split and the referendum failed.”

Mr Benwell said Australians like the status quo, adding: “People like the system we have and they like the fact that it’s the best known system that has ever been devised to be a check on politicians.”

He continued: “If we become a republic, we will be just as independent as we are now. We use the King as a guarantor of our constitution. What we stand to lose is a body of power that resides in this country will move from the Crown, which represents the people, to the state, which is controlled by politicians who will be able to influence governments to a greater extent than they can now.”

Dr Morris said if a majority of Australians were to vote in favour of a republic, it would not in itself trigger similar votes elsewhere, although it could lead to other realms looking into the possibility of change.

King Charles and the British Government take the view that whether or not to become republics is a matter for the 14 realms. When he was Prince of Wales, Charles visited Barbados as the Caribbean island celebrated the adoption of a president as Head of State.

In practice, it could be argued that Australia already has almost all the attributes of a republic with the main issue being whether it should further domesticate its Head of State. The country’s Governor General is formally appointed by the King, but solely on the recommendation of the Australian prime minister.

Of the three realms tipped as likely to become republics, Antigua and Barbuda could follow Australia’s lead, should predictions of a referendum Down Under in two years’ time prove correct.

According to a report from the Institute for Government and Bennett Institute for Public Policy report written by Professor Robert Hazell, the Caribbean island nation’s prime minister, Gaston Browne, has said he will call for a referendum in the next three years.

In Jamaica, successive prime ministers have promised to lead the country towards becoming a republic. However, the process of changing the constitution has thwarted efforts because it requires a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament, followed by a referendum.

On an Australian referendum’s impact in Britain, Dr Morris said: “In the UK, there is at present no significant support for replacing the monarchy, though its growth could not be ruled out. After all, it would be a matter for the electorate to decide because we are a democracy.”

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