Republic talk grows amid Queen condolences

Victorian MPs have sworn their allegiance to King Charles III, but it could be for the last time as republican debate ramps up across Australia.

Victoria is the only state or territory that requires parliamentarians to swear allegiance to the new monarch as part of its constitution.

That event has not occurred since February 14, 1952, eight days after the death of Queen Elizabeth II’s father King George VI.

Small groups of members from both houses were called to recite the oath or affirmation on Tuesday and the process took about half an hour.

Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam labelled the convention outdated, although the party’s four MPs fell into line while wearing T-shirts and accessories emblazoned with the Aboriginal rights phrase, “always was, always will be”.

“We’re here as Victorian MPs to swear allegiance to King Charles III, a new head of state decided for us, but not by us,” Ms Ratnam told reporters before the ceremony.

“This is a really important time to reflect on the role of the British monarchy going forward in Australia, the impact of colonisation and the need to move forward in this country with a treaty and with a republic.”

Ms Ratnam, born in England and raised in Sri Lanka before escaping civil war there, said she was one of millions who had “different experiences” of the monarchy.

The Victorian and Tasmanian Greens have joined the party’s federal leaders in calling for more discussion about Australia becoming a republic after the Queen’s death.

“Surely we’ve got the guts to have a national conversation … what better time than this?” Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O’Connor told state parliament on Tuesday.

But Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it was too soon to discuss changing the country’s system of government and ruled out a referendum on a republic this term, prioritising an Indigenous voice to parliament.

His Victorian Labor counterpart Daniel Andrews agreed now was not the right time for the debate with the Queen yet to be laid to rest.

“The debate may well be appropriate at another point,” the premier said before leading a condolence motion in the state’s lower house.

Similar motions are being held in Tasmanian, NSW and WA parliaments on Tuesday before the legislatures adjourn as a mark of respect.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet expressed the state parliament’s “profound sorrow at the death of our late beloved sovereign” and moved a second motion to congratulate the new monarch.

The motions passed without opposition but the NSW Greens did not support suspending parliament, arguing MPs must keep working amid cost-of-living and climate crises.

The final sittings of Victorian parliament before the November state election were scheduled for this week but have been pushed back to the following week.


Callum Godde
(Australian Associated Press)


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