Most MPs, Senators back Australia's republican movement

2016-12-16 02:19:23 GMT2016-12-16 10:19:23(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

By Matt Walsh

CANBERRA, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- A push for Australia to break away from the British monarchy and form a republic has been given a major boost after it was revealed there is majority support in both the Lower and Upper House of Australia's Parliament.

The new support numbers were released by the Australian Republican Movement (ARM) on Friday, one day before Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is due to speak at the 25th anniversary of the 1999 failed republican push, which he led.

Peter FitzSimons, chairman of the ARM, said the push now has enough government support required to form a republic, with 81 MPs and 40 Senators reportedly in favor of the movement.

"The majority of the public want it. Every premier and chief minister wants it. Now it turns out that our federal representatives agree as well," FitzSimons told Fairfax Media on Friday.

The ARM chairman said support for the movement was coming from "right across the political spectrum", something which wasn't the case 25 years ago when the original referendum failed; in 1999, just 45 percent of Australians voted in favor of forming a republic, while all states except the Australian Capital Territory had a majority for remaining under the Monarchy.

"The passion for the republic comes from right across the political spectrum. It's not a matter of being from the left or right but believing that in the 21st Century, Australia can run its own show," FitzSimons said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also voiced his support for the movement; he said while only 25 years had passed since the 1999 referendum, the social landscape of Australia had transformed remarkably in that time.

"People too young to vote in the 1999 referendum have children of their own now," Shorten said. "Next year, children born in 1999 will be old enough to vote."

"This new generation deserves the chance to decide if Australia's head of state should be an Australian."

Conservative MPs, too, have backed the push, with divisive Queensland backbencher George Christensen announcing a republic would allow lawmakers to be more "responsive to the needs and desires of the Australian people".

"A renewed push for an Australian republic gives hope not only of having someone who is Australian and not subject to any foreign power as our head of state, but also that we can reform government to make it more representative and responsive to the needs and desires of the Australian people," Christensen told Fairfax Media.

Other conservative MPs in favor of the movement include Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Christopher Pyne, Josh Frydenberg, Marise Payne and Simon Birmingham.

According to the ARM, all of the nation's Greens representatives back the push, while 93 percent of Labor MPs and Senators are in favor. Just 17 percent of the coalition partyroom backs the ARM, however 65 percent of are listed as "undecided".

FitzSimons said Turnbull's speech on Saturday is a "unique chance" to place the republican movement back into the public eye.

"Malcolm Turnbull has a unique chance to put the republican cause firmly back at the center of the national agenda," FitzSimons said.

In order for Australia to become a republic, the referendum must be backed by a national majority of voters as well as by a majority in all states and territories.

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