Australia’s Republic Movement believes appetite for a change in head of state will only continue to grow following plans for a national plebiscite.
The movement’s director Michael Cooney has called Labor’s intentions to put $160 million towards a plebiscite on the issue, if it wins government, as a ‘huge step forward’.
He said Australians needed to have a voice about the head of state.
‘No one thinks Australians have enough say over our future,’ Mr Cooney told Sky News on Sunday.
‘Everyone knows that something isn’t quite working, not only in politics, but maybe more broadly in our society.
‘Part of the reason for that is we don’t have someone above politics, we don’t have an institution that could unite us, like a head of state could.’
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has approved the funding plan for a public ballot, rather than a postal vote, if Labor wins the next election.
Despite this, Labor spokesman for an Australian head of state Matt Thistlethwaite concedes a plebiscite is probably not a top priority for most Australians.
‘We’re not saying it’s the most important issue but we are saying that if we are elected at the next election, it’s one of the issues that Labor will attempt to deal with during our first term,’ he told Fairfax.
Last month, an independent survey of 1000 Australians commissioned by the ARM found 52.4 per cent want a republic.
Mr Cooney said it would be valuable to also ask Australians how the head of state should be chosen – by the people or the parliament.
Real Republic chairman David Muir has expressed his reservations about the plan, saying it is vital the public were given an option to decide on the voting model.
‘Ask voters to express their views on the republic question itself and a preferred model at the same time,’ Mr Muir said.
‘So far Scott Morrison hasn’t given any inkling of how he intends to give Australians their say on a republic.’
Mr Cooney said bipartisan support was needed to move the plans forward.
‘We hope the government makes the same commitment so all Australians can have their say,’ Mr Cooney said.
‘Republic supporters in the coalition parties have a wonderful opportunity to offer unifying vision and purpose by offering a positive response.’