Canberra (Australia) Aug 17 (ANI): Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, whose Labour Party has long held that the country should become a republic and stop having the British monarch as its head of state, has said that although citizens have a "deep affection" for Queen Elizabeth II, ceremonial royal rule over Australia should end once her reign is over.
"What I would like to see as Prime Minister is that we work our way through to an agreement on a model for the republic. I think the appropriate time for this nation to move to be a republic is when we see the monarch change," News.com.au quoted Gillard, as saying.
"Obviously, I'm hoping for Queen Elizabeth that she lives a long and happy life, and having watched her mother, I think there's every chance that she will," she added.
However, her comment has been criticised by the opposition.
Liberal Party leader Tony Abbot, Gillard's opponent in national elections on Saturday, has disagreed with Gillard, saying he sees no need to change status quo.
"I think that our existing constitutional arrangements have worked well in the past, and I see no reason whatsoever why they can't continue to work well in the future," he added.
Victorian Opposition leader Ted Baillieu has expressed deep concern over Gillard's remarks and added that the Queen's life expectancy should not be part of a debate about an Australian republic.
"I think it's an unfortunate reflection to consider the life of the Queen now, it's not something I would wish to do," he said. (ANI)