Photo: File
Photo: File Chloe Lyons

Shorten pledges poll for a republic if he wins next election

AUSTRALIANS will go to the polls to say whether they want to become a republic with an Australian head of state if Bill Shorten wins the next election.

The Opposition Leader will today vow to hold a plebiscite by the end of his first term in power. He said it would be "the first real step to an Australian republic".

The question put to all Australians will be: "Do you support an Australian republic with an Australian head of state?" If the "yes" vote wins then Labor will work on a referendum to determine how the head of state is chosen.

"We cannot risk being caught in a referendum like the last one, where Australians were given one vote to settle two questions," the Labor leader will say in a speech today.

"A lot of people voted 'no', because of the model, not because of the republic.

"The first, clear question we ask the people should be whether we want an Australian head of state. And the debate should be about why. About our sense of Australia, our history and, above all, our future."

The failed 1999 referendum - when Malcolm Turnbull spearheaded the pro-republic campaign - asked Australians whether they wanted a republic with a president appointed by a two-thirds majority of members of parliament.

Prime Minister Turnbull recently met the Queen and said he was a "very strong Elizabethan", despite his support for a republic.

He believes change would not be supported during the Queen's reign.

Mr Shorten said he had "tremendous regard for the Queen" and her service. "But I am not an Elizabethan ... I'm an Australian," he will say.

"And I believe our head of state should be an Australian too - and we should start now."

He believes Australia should not wait for a "popular groundswell" and that the government "must set a direction and bring people with us".

Mr Turnbull last year said his preferred plebiscite question would offer a choice between two republican models.

News Corp Australia

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