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Australian republicans offer condolences for Queen but call for debate

britain's queen elizabeth has died at age 96
Queen Elizabeth's photo is shown on a Sydney Opera House sail on Friday

Australians on Friday mourned the death of Queen Elizabeth, but republicans also revived a longstanding debate on ending the country’s association with the 1,000-year-old monarchy.

The British monarch is the head of state in Australia, among 14 realms outside the United Kingdom, although the role is largely ceremonial.

Australia has long debated the need to keep a distant monarch. A 1999 referendum in Australia on becoming a republic lost with 55% of voters opposed.

“Our thoughts are with her family and all who loved her. Now Australia must move forward,” said Australian Greens Party leader Adam Bandt, a prominent republican.

“We need Treaty with First Nations people, and we need to become a Republic,” he wrote on Twitter.

Bandt was accused, even by some fellow republicans, of being disrespectful by bringing up the issue just hours after the queen’s death.

“Not the right time to call for a republic irrespective of where you sit on the monarchy/ republic spectrum. Not respectful after her long life of service,” one of Bandt’s followers said in response to the tweet.

Bandt’s office did not immediate respond to an email seeking comment.

The Australian Republic Movement also offered condolences while noting that the queen had backed Australia’s right to become a fully independent nation during the 1999 referendum, saying she had affirmed it was “an issue for the Australian people and them alone to decide.”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has spoken in support of moving toward a republic. But on Friday he said: “Today’s a day for one issue and one issue only, which is to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.”

Similar debates are occurring in the Caribbean, where Jamaica has signalled it may soon follow Barbados in ditching royal rule.

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