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© Neena Bhandari, Indo Asian News Service

Sydney, Sep 17 (IANS) With leaders of the two major Australian political parties sharing the vision of an Australian head of state replacing the British monarch, the Greens Party Wednesday called for a referendum on the republic during the 2010 federal elections.

"We think the time is right, the stars are aligned. We have a prime minister and a leader of the opposition who support the republic. We Greens are going to move before Christmas for a referendum at the next election on the republic, just a yes-no question," Australian Greens Party leader Bob Brown told reporters.

Brown feels that there should first be a vote on whether Australia should be a republic and the form of republic should come next.

"Ask people in Australia do they want a republic? The answer is yes. Once we have established that, we can go on to outline the powers of a future president and how that president ought to be appointed," the Greens leader said.

With the opposition Liberal Party selecting a new leader in Malcolm Turnbull Tuesday, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who describes himself as "a life-long republican", signalled that he would seek bipartisan support on the republic issue.

"Mr Turnbull has long been a supporter of the republic, and we know for a fact that we are only going to achieve that sort of change in Australia on a bipartisan basis", Rudd told reporters.

Turnbull is a former chair of the Australian Republic Movement and had campaigned in favour of a 'yes' vote in the defeated 1999 referendum. However, Turnbull says any move to a republic should not happen during Queen Elizabeth's reign.

"We cannot have a successful referendum on the republic during the Queen's reign. In 1999, I said if you vote 'no' it means 'no' for a long time, and the next chance will come after the Queen's reign has ended. Having another referendum and losing it, that does nobody any good," Turnbull told Channel Ten.

"The membership of the Liberal Party would still predominantly be monarchist. This will be a tough issue for the Liberal Party", former treasurer and republican Peter Costello told the National Press Club,

According to a recent opinion poll, the 82-year-old Queen Elizabeth II was popular in Australia, but many more Australians would support a republic if Prince Charles came to the throne.

However, the Australian Republican Movement has said in a statement that "the Australian people should not have to wait until the current queen abdicates before reconsidering the issue of becoming a republic.....With a majority of Australians supporting a republic, now is the time to end the timidity and lack of resolve that has characterised this issue in recent times."

© Copyright Neena Bhandari. All rights reserved. Republication, copying or using information from any content is expressly prohibited without  the permission of the writer and the news agency through which the article is syndicated.

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