Australia's governor-general Bryce in republic call

Governor-General Quentin Bryce is greeted by the Royal Australian Navy at Garden Island (October 2013) Quentin Bryce, Australia's first female governor-general, was appointed in 2008

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The Queen's representative in Australia has reportedly become the first serving governor-general to publicly back the country becoming a republic.

Quentin Bryce, 70, made the comments during a speech in Sydney in which she outlined a future vision for Australia.

"Perhaps one day, one young girl or boy may even grow up to be our nation's first head of state," she said, reigniting the republic debate.

Australians voted against becoming a republic in a 1999 referendum.

The country is a parliamentary democracy that retains Britain's monarch as its head of state.

In the 1999 vote, Australians opted to preserve the status quo, with Queen Elizabeth II remaining as the head of state - although the republican movement was split between those who wanted an elected president and those who preferred a parliamentary appointee.

The issue has largely fallen into the political doldrums in Australia in recent years.

'Personal view'

Ms Bryce, the country's first female governor-general, was appointed in 2008 when Kevin Rudd was prime minister. Her tenure ends in March next year.

Her comments, made at the end of a four-part lecture series, have reignited a debate about the nation's ties to Britain.

"We will always be friends with Britain, but now we should be equals," said Geoff Gallop, the head of the Australian Republican Movement.

"We need an unambiguous, independent national identity that reflects and celebrates our freedom, our unity, our values of the fair go and our place in the world."

However, David Flint of the Australians for Constitutional Monarchy described her comments as "a pity".

"The constitutional system requires that the Crown be above politics... it goes against the position. There are a number of people who are now going to wonder about her.

"There's this sense of division that she's created... we've got commentators everywhere on these issues, couldn't she have left them alone until she was out of the office?" Mr Flint told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a staunch royalist who used to be the executive director of the Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, said Ms Bryce was entitled to her opinion.

"It's more than appropriate for the governor-general approaching the end of her term to express a personal view on a number of subjects and that's what she was doing, she was expressing a personal view and, as you would expect from Quentin Bryce, she did it with grace and style," he said.

Ms Bryce also voiced support for same-sex marriage - a position that Mr Abbott, a devout Catholic, also opposes.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    There's irony in her wistful vision of a random Australian growing up to be head of state. After all, no random British person can ever be head of state either.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    She was a republican when she was appointed so this is not news. What is news is that the Australian representative of the Crown, whose whole point is to be apolitical, is openly advocating a republic and gay marriage which is against the views of the elected government. This is not what she is meant to be doing or should have done, even though I support one of those views.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    The "commonwealth" itself belongs in the history textbooks along with the BritishEmpire.

    The commonwealth does carry the stigma of colonialism and has had defectors in the past.

    it is in fact more of a socia club and should have free trade benefits a la NAFTA or Mercosur to make membership worthwhile

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Although I agree with the Governor-General, it does seem a bit strange that she was happy to accept the position of being the Queen's representative in Australia (with all of the perks that includes) whilst at the same time questioning the role of the person/institution that she is representing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    I personally am surprised that Australia hasn't already declared itself a republic. It's not like London has any great hand in the running of the country.

    That being said as always it's up to the good people of Australia who they wants as their head of state. Not the Governor.


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