‘We will see what occurs’: Albanese shoots down talk of Australia as republic

PM Anthony Albanese and Governor-General David Hurley will leave on Thursday to attend the Queen’s funeral.

PM Anthony Albanese and Governor-General David Hurley will leave on Thursday to attend the Queen’s funeral. Photo: AAP

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has ruled out holding a republic referendum in this Parliament and tamped down on calls to revive the debate on a day when Charles III was proclaimed the new King of Australia.

The PM spoke to UK television on Sunday night and gave a flat “no” when asked to confirm that his long-standing stance would not change because of Queen Elizabeth II’s death.

The first Albanese ministry included a new Assistant Minister for a Republic but he has always insisted the issue would only be progressed if the government won a second term. 

The PM joined other ministers serving on the Executive Council at Parliament House on Sunday and recommended Charles III be proclaimed as the new King of Australia.

Reigning over us

The new king automatically assumed the role of Australia’s head of state but his accession was acknowledged in formal ceremonies.

That recommendation was acted upon by Governor-General David Hurley shortly before: “May King Charles III have long and happy years to reign over us.”

Mr Albanese said on Sunday night that securing Indigenous recognition in the constitution, via a “Voice to Parliament”, would remain the government’s priority in its first term.

“The bigger questions about our constitution are not ones for this current period,” he told Sky News UK.

“This is a period in which we are showing the grief that so many Australians are feeling at the moment.

“My priority, and I said this before the election and I’ve maintained it since my election as Prime Minister, is the recognition of First Nations people in our constitution.”

Mr Albanese stopped short of agreeing with an interviewer’s question suggesting that the Queen’s death might consolidate the position of the British monarchy in Australia.

“We will see what occurs,” he said. “The important thing is I think to commemorate the moment that we’re in now. And it is a moment of reflection about an extraordinary life.

The PM had earlier announced Australia will observe a public holiday to mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth II on September 22.

“It will be a one-off national public holiday to allow people to pay their respects,” Mr Albanese said.

Bigger problems

On Friday, the Greens leader Adam Bandt said the passing of the monarch was time for Australia to “move forward”.

Peter FitzSimons, the chairman of the Australian Republican Movement, released an otherwise neutral statement containing only praise for the late Queen’s contribution but was criticised by some monarchists nonetheless.

The British newspaper The Economist covered the prospect of the 14 countries for which Prince Charles will serve as head of state proceeding with constitutional reform, including Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica and Australia.

The newspaper wrote that the new king could remind of the past influence Britain exerted in Australia’s national affairs.

Charles wrote a sympathetic note to the former governor-general John Kerr after the dismissal of Gough Whitlam as prime minister: “What you did last year was right and the courageous thing to do.”

It concluded that the 10-point loss of the 1999 referendum suggested reviving the republican movement would be easier said than done so long as countries in the realm had “bigger problems than King Charles”.

“King Charles III may continue to reign over several places simply because of inertia,” it wrote.

“The modern monarchy is not as popular as it once was, but neither is it widely resented.”

Barbados became a republic in 2020. The last country to effect similar change was Mauritius in 1992.

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