Commonwealth on brink as Anthony Albanese wants Oz vote on Queen—‘Republic will happen

Australia: Labor's Anthony Albanese speaks after election vote

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Australia recently voted in its first Labor government in almost a decade, choosing Anthony Albanese as the country’s new Prime Minister, a post that Scott Morrison had held for four years. With his historic win, Mr Albanese has promised a “new management” style shake-up for Australian politics, both domestically and abroad. One of the things he focused on during his campaign and has been keen to reiterate in the aftermath of his victory is Labor’s tough stance on climate change, something that is increasingly affecting Australia with severe drought, unpredictable weather fronts and some of the worst flooding in parts of the country for decades.

Mr Albanese opened his victory speech by addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, and reiterated his commitment to holding a ballot on a Voice to Parliament — an Indigenous advisory body — during his three-year term.

He went on to point back to his own humble beginnings, the “son of a single mum who was a disability pensioner, who grew up in public housing,” later thanking the exiting Mr Morrison who had “very graciously wished me well”.

Mr Albanese’s manifesto contained a number of pledges and commitments similar to modern governments around the world.

But one of his own beliefs, that Australia should call a referendum on its Commonwealth membership, was noticeably absent from the document.

This did not stop the anti-monarchy group Republic from hailing his victory as a turning point in history, however, as the group said: “Excellent to see pro-republic Anthony Albanese becoming Australia’s PM.

“Won’t be a referendum just yet as they’re rightly committed to first recognising aboriginal people as the original Australians in the constitution. But a republic will happen.”

Mr Albanese’s argument is nothing new in Australia and many voters will remember the 1999 referendum where 55 percent of the country opted to maintain the status quo and keep the British Queen as head of state.

For now, Labor spokespeople have said that the party is focused on the Voice to Parliament referendum.

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Looking back to 2019, speaking at a dinner hosted by the Australian Republican Movement in the King’s Hall of the old Australian parliament, Mr Albanese said recent allegations surrounding the Royal Family proved that Australia needed to reevaluate its place in the Commonwealth.

He was referring to the now-settled sexual assault case involving Prince Andrew and Virginia Roberts Giuffre – which the Duke has always vehemently denied.

Mr Albanese said: “[Recent events have] reminded Australia about why we need an Australian head of state,” adding that deep divisions in English society over Brexit and the possible splitting up of the UK were similarly reminders that Australia was currently “passive” and tethered to events on the other side of the world and out of its control.

Even then, while Mr Albanese spoke passionately of Australia becoming a republic, he was quick to draw attention to the importance of Indigenous Australians being recognised in the country’s constitution as the “first priority”.


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And while praising Malcolm Turnbull — the former Labor prime minister who oversaw the 1999 referendum — he argued that the republic should be put to the Australian people first in a plebiscite.

He said voters should be asked whether they wanted a head of state, with the features of an Australia outside the Commonwealth thrashed out later on.

Australia is a founding member of the modern Commonwealth and has been an active participant in its organisations, programs and meetings for more than 60 years.

Overall, the country is the third-largest contributor to the Commonwealth budget, just behind the UK and Canada, and followed by New Zealand, India, Nigeria, Brunei and Kenya.

The budget then hands out money to local programs in member countries.

In the period 2020-2021, Australia received AUD$6.4million (£3.6million) in Commonwealth budget funding that went to things like development programs, youth programs, and learning and technical programs.

While Mr Albanese was sworn in as Prime Minister earlier this week, it remains to be seen whether Labor will form a majority or govern with the support of crossbenchers.

However, the party looks increasingly likely to take a full house at Canberra after it managed to clinch 74 seats of the 76 needed, with some votes yet to be counted.

The former ruling Liberal Party took a drubbing at the polls, its coalition receiving just 54 seats according to the latest count update.

Almost a third of Australians chose to ditch the two main parties and lend their vote to the Greens, which has so far gained three seats.

After being sworn in, Mr Albanese jetted off to Tokyo to meet with world leaders including US President Joe Biden and other so-called Quad nations leaders, including India and Japan.

He said he would convene his first meeting of the national cabinet with all the state territory leaders, now overwhelmingly filled with Labor leaders, on his return.

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