Australian republicans eye break with British monarchy

SYDNEY, Nov 26, 2007 (AFP) – Australian republicans Monday said prime minister John Howard’s removal from office opened the way for a bipartisan push for the country to break its ties with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. When the referendum failed to get the votes required to pass, Malcolm Turnbull, who was then chairman of the Australian Republican Movement, called it “the day that John Howard broke the nation’s heart”. Gaining traction on the issue of breaking ties with the British monarchy was “virtually impossible” as long as staunch royalist Howard was in charge, the Australian Republican Movement’s Mike Keating said.

Keating said while many high-profile members of Howard’s cabinet were republicans, including the conservatives’ potential new leader Malcolm Turnbull, they refused to push the issue.

“They were never going to speak out when their master was so dead set against it,” he told AFP.

But with Labor’s Kevin Rudd, an avowed republican, as prime minister it would be possible to launch a campaign for an Australian head of state, he said.

“We don’t think it’s something he’s going to address this week, or even in the first 100 days,” Keating said.

“What we’re saying is that it shouldn’t be