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A resurgent republican movement is campaigning to replace the monarch as head of state with an elected President and hopes to hold a referendum in three years time. A new surge in support among under 25s for a Republic has boosted the movement’s hopes that this time they will succeed. However, the popularity of the younger royals, such as Princes William and Harry and their respective wives, has helped bolster support for the Royal Family down under and throughout the rest of the Commonwealth.
Such has been the impact overall of the younger royals, that rumours have regularly circulated that the Queen would bypass Prince Charles to give the crown to William.
Australian republicans have dismissed suggestions that such a move would undermine their goal of creating a republic independent from the British monarchy.
Sandy Biar, the National Director of the Republican Movement, told Express.co.uk: “No, I am not concerned about that.
“Queen Elizabeth is still more popular than William and so any changes inevitably are going to make support for the monarchy weaker in Australia.
“So we’re already starting from a very strong base of support and every succession hereon in is going to weaken the monarchy’s support in Australia.”
Republicans point to recent polling as evidence that their campaign is making inroads and gaining momentum.
A Dynata poll carried out last June showed support for a republic among under-25s had grown to 57 percent, while 50 percent of those aged between 25-35 also were in favour of the constitutional change.
Another poll commissioned by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) last November found that 64 percent of Australians would have voted for a Republic if the vote had been held in 2019.
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Demographic changes are also playing their part, as Australian society becomes increasingly more multicultural and traditional perceptions of national identity undergo their own transformations.
“Our national identity has well-outgrown the British heritage that we perhaps started with”, Mr Biar said.
“The monarchy doesn’t represent Australians, represents only a very small number of Australians who still cling to a heritage which is not our national identity.
“More and more Australians are coming to recognise that Australian history goes well beyond colonisation, that it extends to 60,000 years before that, to the era of the first nations of Australia.”
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The Republican National Director claimed only around a third of Australians knew that the Queen was the head of state, undermining any notion that the British monarch was representative of his country.
He argued the monarchy was a “divisive” force in Australian political life and the country needed a head of state with undivided loyalties, who would stand up for the country’s interests.
“How can someone who’s been in the job for sixty years possibly represent everybody if people don’t even know that they’re doing the role for Australians?”, he said.
“Australia needs a head of state that is a champion for Australia, with undivided loyalties to Australia and retaining the British monarchy is actually divisive and dividing our nation.
“Whereas we should have a constitution that unites Australians behind our nation’s independence, which should be indisputable.”
The last referendum was held in 1999 and resulted in a resounding defeat for the republicans, as 55 percent of Australians voted to keep the British monarch as head of state.
Mr Biar blamed the defeat on the lack of consensus over what should replace the monarchy.
He claimed lessons had been learnt and the current campaign was involved in a consultation exercise with the public over which preferred option it would like to see replace the Queen.
Preliminary feed back suggests that the majority of Australians are in favour of a directly elected president, whose role should be ceremonial and whose powers should be subordinated to those of parliament.
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