Queen Elizabeth must die or abdicate for Australian republic

Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:19pm EST
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By Michael Perry

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Australia's head-of-state, must die or abdicate before Australia can become a republic, said one of the country's leading politicians and former head of the republican movement.

Malcolm Turnbull, now opposition treasury spokesman, said Australians would not vote for a republic while the country's monarch reigned.

The majority of Australians support their country becoming a republic, but a 1999 vote on a republic failed because Australians could not agree on the type of republic.

Turnbull said Queen Elizabeth's departure from the throne would be a "watershed event that would galvanize the population" into debating what type of head-of-state they wanted.

"I said at the time of the 1999 referendum that if we voted 'no' it would mean 'no' for a very long time," Turnbull told local media on Monday.

"My own judgment is that the next time when you would have your best prospects (of a republic) is at the end of the Queen's reign -- when she dies or when she abdicates," said Turnbull, former head of the Australian Republican Movement.

Former conservative prime minister, John Howard, who lost office last November, was a staunch monarchist.

But new Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and many in his government, are avowed republicans, but Rudd has dismissed another vote on the issue anytime soon.   Continued...

<p>Britain's Queen Elizabeth attends the annual Christmas service at Sandringham Church in Norfolk, eastern England, December 25, 2007. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>