If you thought Australia was a free nation, think again, because it is not completely free. Australia is one of the sixteen former British colonies that still functions under the Queen as the head of state. Starting from the current queen’s death, the Prime Minister wants a push for a state-based republic.
If it were left to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, he would like to make Australia and independent state.
Hang on a second, you might say. Aren’t we already free?
Well, we are and we aren’t. We are in the sense that we have a democratic system of government, a free press and independent-nation status in the world. But we are not in the sense that our head of state is still the Queen. The Queen of England, that is.
Australia has been one of England’s colonies, and it has always recognised the Queen of England as its head of state. This is ‘okay’ for some, but in true technical terms, you are still not a free country per se if your head of state lives in and is loyal to another country. Queen Elizabeth II is a well-loved monarch, but it doesn’t change the fact that her first love is England, and Australia – and the other countries to which she serves as head of state – is only an afterthought in her mind.
Malcolm Turnbull wants to change all of that.
As head of the republican party, which has always been anti-elitist – and therefore by extension anti-monarchy – Turnbull recently reinforced the message that he is passionate about: getting Australia to a status of a republic, with a sitting Australian head of state.
The path from here to there promises to be a difficult one, though; for one, polls indicate that 47% of Australia’s citizens favour the status quo to 42% who would prefer a change. This is well short of the two-thirds majority needed to make constitutional changes, and as they go, this one is rather big.
The end goal is to have a political system that is more akin to the British system, where elections are conducted for the Executive branch (or the Prime Minister) but also for the head of state. Whether they should make it an appointed position or an elected position is up for debate, however Turnbull has said that a two-step election process, where the people elect a team of electors who then cast their vote for the President, will work best.
With anti-elite sentiment running across the world – especially with Brexit and the US Presidential elections – this is likely to be tabled soon in Australia, but Turnbull himself admitted that people do not have the ‘appetite’ for it as long as Queen Elizabeth II is reigning. He proposed that Australia can take its first steps towards total independence once the current queen’s rule has ended.