Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has ruled out a referendum on whether or not to keep Britain’s newly proclaimed monarch, King Charles III, as head of state of Australia, in a reversal of his previous policies, the basis for which his government began to impose when he was elected.
The prime minister rejected talks about becoming a republic with its own head of state, but said it was not time for change, but to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.
Albanian said he would not pursue “questions about constitutional change unless reelected, out of “deep respect and admiration” for the Queen.
He ruled out holding a referendum in his first term, telling Australia’s national broadcaster TBEN on Friday that “now is not the time to talk about our system of government”.
“Now is the time for us to pay tribute to the life of Queen Elizabeth, a life well lived, a life of devotion and loyalty, also to the Australian people, and for us to honor and mourn,” he said.
“Today is not a day for politics,” Mr Albanese stated in additional comments to Radio National, even as citizens of several countries refused to mourn the death of the Queen, with many openly expressing their intentions on social media through memes and jokes.
Mr Albanian’s announcement also comes as leaders of one of the country’s political parties, the Greens, have been pushing for progressive constitutional amendment. Adam Bandt, the MP for Melbourne and a member of the party, expressed his condolences on the Queen’s death in a tweet, but also called on Australia to “move forward”.
Mehreen Faruqi, the party’s deputy leader, went a step further, calling the Commonwealth “a racist empire built on stolen lives, land and wealth from colonized peoples”.
Indigenous Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe, while taking an oath in parliament last month, swore “genuine allegiance to the colonizing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II”.
Mr Albanese had started laying the groundwork for an Australian republic after his election in May. He had created a new post of Assistant Minister for the Republic and appointed Matt Thistlethwaite in June.
Mr Thistlethwaite had previously said there would be no change in Australia’s status during the Queen’s lifetime, while the Prime Minister had said the referendum was not a priority for the first three years of his term in office.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Albanese said the Queen was “the only monarch we have known in my lifetime and the lives of most Australians”, and that he “held her in high regard”.
Mr Albanian’s comments are in stark contrast to those of his other colleagues who represent Commonwealth countries. The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, declared shortly after the Queen’s death that his country would hold a referendum “within the next three years”.
In March of this year, official sources in Jamaica said: TBEN that the country had already started abolishing the Queen as head of state. The comments came as Prince William and Princess Kate, then the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, toured the Caribbean and were greeted with widespread demonstrations against colonialism.
Mr Albanese will travel to London next Thursday to attend the Queen’s state funeral. He also announced a national holiday on September 22, saying he wanted the new king to visit Australia “as soon as possible”.
Australia, along with Canada and New Zealand, are among the 15 remaining Commonwealth countries of the former British Empire. The others are Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom.
In 1954, the Queen became the first reigning monarch to visit Australia.
It is estimated that about 70 percent of the Australian population came to visit her during her two-month journey with her husband, as they traveled to 57 cities. After that visit, she traveled to the country 16 more times. Her last visit was in 2011.