The new head of the Australian Republican Movement, Peter FitzSimons, thinks the country can't wait until the Queen dies before deciding on full independence.
The prominent journalist and former rugby star laid out his plans at the National Press Club on Wednesday and argued the fate of Queen Elizabeth II should not stand in the way of an Australian head of state.
"I don't think we should wait to that point, we need to have everything in order ready to rock 'n' roll come the time we achieve the critical mass," he said, passionately making the case without his signature red bandana.
"I hope we achieve it in the next five years and I hope Her Majesty lives 15 years."
FitzSimons' plan involves recruiting treasurer (and old school friend) Joe Hockey and Labor senator Katy Gallagher as leaders of a new "parliamentary friendship group for an Australian head of state."
The Australian Republican Movement (ARM), along with Hockey and Gallagher, appears to be pushing for two national votes – a plebiscite and then a referendum – in the next five years.
"We reckon the Yes vote will look like Phar Lap at Flemington, like Bradman at Lord's, well ahead of the field and looking good," he said on the non-binding plebiscite.
After the plebiscite there will be "people's forums" which will shape the republic model to be put to a referendum.
"I'm here to tell you [we] are like a toy plane convention at St Mary's Cathedral. We are a very broad church with lots of great models that will fly."
Questions over who becomes head of state (will Australia elect a president?) and the national flag are all side issues for the new ARM organisation.
Australia's last national vote on the issue was in 1999, with 55% of the country voting No to a republic. That referendum was saddled with the prime minister John Howard pushing hard against the move. And this new push involves Peter FitzSimons.
Let's settle this right now, without all these messy national votes...
Hell yeahYeah nah
vote votesHell yeah
vote votesYeah nah
Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Mark Di Stefano at email@example.com.
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