The Australian Republic Movement unveiled its preferred method to appoint a new head of state with the launch of its Australian Choice model on Wednesday.
Under the proposal, every state and territory would get the chance to shortlist their best and brightest citizens to be Australia’s head of state through a robust, merit-based selection process, which would then go to a national ballot of 11 applicants.
The elected head of state would be at the helm for a five-year term and be responsible for appointing a prime minister with majority support in the House of Representatives but will have no authority in day-to-day governance or passing laws.
The Australian Republic Movement is chaired by journalist and former Wallabies Test player Peter FitzSimons, who says the model will gives Australians more choice to choose from eminently qualified and suitable candidates to represent them.
The Australian Republic Movement, chaired by Peter FitzSimons (pictured with wife Lisa Wilkinson) has launched a new model proposing a new head of state
Australia’s head of state is currently Queen Elizabeth II, aged 95, whose powers are exercised by the Governor‑General.
‘We’ve consulted, we’ve listened closely and Australians have told us this approach will give our nation the best chance of success at a referendum, with an overwhelming majority of Australians likely to have the change,’ Mr Fitzsimons said.
‘This will give all Australian voters a merit-based choice about who speaks for them as head of state. The decision will be in their hands, unlike now, where it is luck of the draw who we get from the British Royal Family.
‘I would like to thank both the thousands upon thousands of Australians who shared their views with us so we could take this historic step forward, and the constitutional experts who helped us refine it.’
Mr FitzSimons later told the Sydney Morning Herald: ‘People don’t want a Trump-like figure and they don’t want Shane Warne – they want an eminent person.’
Australia’s head of state is currently 95-year-old Queen Elizabeth II (pictured)
The ARM spent two years developing the new model in consultation with more than 10,000 Australians.
Almost three quarters of Australians would vote for a republic if the model was put to a referendum while 92 per cent were open to the idea, according to their research.
Almost 55 per cent of Australians voted to not become a republic at the 1999 referendum.
A new advertising campaign starring former Socceroo turned commentator Craig Foster has also been launched.
‘Choosing an Australian republic is about choosing to take our own affairs into our own hands,’ Foster says in the two minute video.
‘We’re old enough, smart enough, experienced enough and capable enough.’
‘With an Australian head of state chosen by all of us from Australia’s most trusted and respected citizens, our future more than ever will be in Australian hands.’
Peter FitzSimons (pictured) said the Australian Voice model will give voters a merit-based choice about who speaks for them as head of state
Public reaction to the proposed model has been divided so far.
‘Our Head to State should be an Australian living in Australia – not a citizen of another country who lives overseas,’ one supporter commented.
The model already has political support from federal Labor frontbenchers Mark Dreyfus and Matt Thistlethwaite.
‘The Australian head of state should be one of us: an Australian who lives with the Australian people,’ the pair said.
‘Whilst constitutional recognition and a Voice to Parliament for First Nations people remain Labor’s constitutional reform priority, it is important that all Australians have the opportunity to consider an Australian head of state in the future and the best model of appointment.’
Former Socceroo Craig Foster has pledged his support for the Australian Choice model by starring in a new video campaign for the Australian Republic Movement
But not everyone agreed with the new model.
‘They fear direct election would result in a Donald Trump-like head of state. So they propose a hybrid model where the public vote from an approved list. Has ‘politicians republic’ written all over it,’ one man tweeted
Others called for more detail.
‘What rules and financial restrictions will be applied to nominated candidates and their campaigns for election?’ one man asked.
‘Any election has to afford all candidates an equal opportunity to be elected. If rules, financial restrictions, and full disclosure of funding are not implemented it will only be the dodgy cashed-up individuals with the media in their pocket that will be elected in any popular vote system
A new campaign launched by Australian Republic Movement chairman Peter FitzSimons (pictured with wife Lisa Wilkinson) has already divided the public
Source: Daily Mail