Albanese says ‘inappropriate’ to discuss republic now but doesn’t rule out future referendum | Republicanism


Anthony Albanese has not ruled out holding a referendum on the republic if he is re-elected, saying only that it was “inappropriate” to discuss while commemorating Queen Elizabeth II.

Albanese made the remarks on Monday in a round of interviews defending plans to hold a national day of mourning public holiday on 22 September and promising that four parliamentary sitting days will be caught up before the 25 October budget.

Albanese and the governor general, David Hurley, will fly to London on Thursday for a series of official functions culminating in the Queen’s funeral on Monday 19 September, before arriving back in Australia on 21 September.

Both the prime minister and governor general will attend the funeral, along with Australia’s acting high commissioner, Lynette Wood, despite Albanese hinting on Monday morning a permanent replacement has been chosen but would be announced “in the fullness of time”.

Wood told reporters at Australia House in London she had been presented to King Charles III after his accession to the throne and had conveyed the condolences of the Australian people.

“The King has a deep and broad relationship with Australia and his majesty’s warmth for our country was evident in our brief conversation this afternoon,” she said.

“What has really struck me these past few days is the solemnity here in London, and the regard with which her majesty is held, and the strong support for King Charles the third which is already there.”

Politico had reported foreign heads of state had been asked to arrive in the UK on commercial flights and banned from using helicopters to get around.

The guidance does not appear to apply to Australia – which is using the Royal Australian air force in accordance with UK advice to facilitate Pacific countries’ leaders to attend due to the absence of commercial flights.

On Monday morning Albanese referred to his and the governor general’s travel as “longstanding plans” and noted “we’re also making arrangements for Pacific leaders to travel as well”.

Asked about whether he could hold a referendum on the republic in his second term in office, Albanese told ABC News Breakfast: “Well, that’s not for answering now at this point in time.”

He said the “intention during this term” was to recognise Indigenous Australians in the constitution and noted he had said before the election: “I couldn’t envisage a circumstance where we changed our head of state to an Australian head of state but still didn’t recognise First Nations people in our constitution.

“It’s not appropriate now … to talk about constitutional change. What is appropriate right now is to commemorate the life of service of Queen Elizabeth II.”

‘A period for grief’: Australian PM holds off on constitutional changes after Queen’s death – video

Australia’s republican movement has lost steam after the 1999 referendum defeat, but the death of Queen Elizabeth II has already sparked calls from some, including the Greens, to ditch the monarchy.

After Labor’s May election victory Albanese appointed an assistant minister for the republic, Matt Thistlethwaite, a position he carried over from Labor’s time in opposition.

On Monday Albanese said plans for a public holiday for the day or mourning “have been in place for a considerable period of time”.

“I did it in consultation with all the state and territory leaders. This is a once-in-our-lifetime event … It is important that it is marked appropriately.”

Albanese confirmed it is the government’s intention to catch up the four sitting days lost from the parliamentary schedule, days that were to include the introduction of a national anti-corruption commission bill.

“Tradition, I know, sometimes can be inconvenient,” he told the ABC. “But traditions are important.

“And I do think that 22 September can be a moment that brings our nation together … I know the leader of the opposition has expressed his support for it being the national day of mourning and for a public holiday as well. This is something that is above politics.”

Earlier, the deputy prime minister, Richard Marles, told Radio National he was “confident” the government could pass its anti-corruption legislation despite the parliamentary delay.

He said it was “appropriate” to delay “the kind of partisan contest which goes with parliament happening at a time when really there is a sense of mourning around the nation”.



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