New PM vows to make Australia a republic

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London, Apr 8 (UNI) Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has pledged to proclaim his country as republic by removing the British monarch as his country's head of state.

He said this yesterday only hours before meeting the Queen for the first time who is the symbolic head of Australian state, Daily Telegraph reported.

''Once a Republican, always a Republican,'' was the remark of the Mr Kevin Rudd, in his first official visit to Britain since assuming premiership in November.

''I'm a life-long republican. It's absolutely clear in the Australian Labour Party platform that's where we intend to go,'' asserted Mr Rudd regarding his resolve to do away with the institution of monarchy.

Mr Rudd, who was speaking at Downing Street where he met Gordon Brown, said that a referendum on the monarchy was not a priority.

''Labour believes the monarchy no longer reflects either the fundamental democratic principles that underpin the Australian nation or its diversity,'' the Australian Labour Party's election manifesto last year stated.

Mr Rudd, speaking yesterday, said that over the next year there would be an ''accelerated public debate'' about the monarchy question.

He said the relationship between Britain and Australia was in ''first class working order'' and he believed the nations could be a ''force for good'' in the world.

''We're committed to it. I'm sure we will get to it in due season, but it is not a top-order priority,'' Mr Rudd said in an interview with the BBC when pressed on the Republican issue.

Buckingham Palace, while publicly relaxed about Mr Rudd's comments, is already concerned that the relevance of the Queen, as Australia's head of state, is diminishing among the younger generations.

Though Australian public sentiment towards the queen is still strong, opinion polls suggest the majority of Australians would support the establishment of a republic.

In 2000 the Queen acknowledged the debate and said that it was up to Australians to decide on the future of the monarchy.

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