Ex-Aussie Army chief in favor of replacing Australia’s Queen Elizabeth II with president

By Rod McGuirk, AP

CANBERRA, Australia–The Australian government came under pressure on Australia’s national day on Tuesday to appoint an Australian head of state to replace the British monarch.

Every Australia Day, an eminent Australian citizen is made Australian of the Year in recognition of his or her contribution to Australian society.

The 2016 Australian of the Year, former Chief of Army David Morrison, said in his acceptance speech on Monday night that he intended to use his new public profile to campaign for Australia severing its longstanding constitutional ties to Britain.

Australia’s Queen Elizabeth II was confirmed as head of state in a 1999 referendum that would have replaced her with an Australian president. The referendum was soundly defeated, with the then Prime Minister John Howard campaigning against change.

However, support for the so-called Australian Republic Movement, which advocates for an Australian head of state, is said to be growing.

Morrison said it was time another referendum was held on who should be Australia’s head of state.

“I am a member of the republican movement, I have been a republican all my life. When I was serving in the army, these views were very private,” Morrison told Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Tuesday.

“Now, without giving it undue resonance, I do intend to at least contribute to a national debate, if we’re going to have one, about where we might go in the future,” he said.

This week, all but one of the leaders of Australia’s eight states and territories signed a declaration of support for the Australian Republican Movement’s quest to have a national vote on Australia becoming a republic by 2020.