Australian senators and MPs paid tribute this Friday to British Queen Elizabeth II, as she returned from parliament, with some advocating a debate on Australia’s possible transition to a republic.
Environmental party leader Adam Bandt expressed condolences for the monarch’s death, but reiterated support for a republican regime.
Australia has “a new head of state with nothing to say on the matter. It is the appropriate time to speak respectfully about whether this is appropriate,” he said.
Elizabeth II’s firstborn, now King Charles III of England, was proclaimed Australia’s head of state on 11 September, in a ceremony held in parliament in Canberra.
“We can offer our condolences to those who are personally mourning her, while also speaking respectfully about what this means for us as a people,” Bandt said.
Another ecologist senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, spoke about the need for reconciliation with Australia’s Indigenous Peoples.
Elizabeth II “did not take children from their parents, nor did she personally attempt to remove and decimate one of the oldest cultures in the world,” said Hanson-Young in the Australian Senate.
However, the British monarch was formally the head of a state that did so, the senator stressed.
“Generations of oppression, trauma and suffering as a result of colonization must be recognized,” he added.
Last week, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the country’s priority is to hold a referendum on the political rights of indigenous peoples, not to replace the monarchy with a republic.
Although the leader of the center-left Labor Party is a staunch Republican, Albanese has refused to get involved in the debate over possible regime change.
In 1999, Australians rejected the move to a republic in a referendum. However, polls carried out before Elizabeth II’s death showed that most Australians were in favor of ending the monarchy.
The republican question has been revived since the Albanian came to power in May, promptly appointing the country’s first “deputy minister for the republic”, suggesting that another referendum could be held in the future.
After Elizabeth II’s death, 73-year-old Charles III was officially proclaimed the new King of the United Kingdom and 14 Commonwealth countries.
Among these countries, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, has already promised to call, within three years, a referendum on the transition to a republic.
Also, Belize and Jamaica had already, this year, shown willingness to start the transition to the republican regime.
In November, another Caribbean archipelago, Barbados, became a republic.