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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Australia and the Commonwealth of Nations

Current Australian PM Julia Gillard has stated that it is her belief that the time for Australia to leave the Commonwealth of Nations. While Ms Gillard has always had these beliefs it is the first time she has chosen to express them on the campaign trail. With a knife edge general election in the nation just days away it raises the contentious issue of Australian republicanism for the first time.

Gillards centre-left Labor Party has advocated a republic for a long time however the opposition National/Liberal Coalition chief Tony Abott is a staunch pro-monarchist who doesn't believe there will be any significant change in the country's political make-up in his life-time. Indeed the Australian people have refused the chance to establish a monarchy in 1999 in a national referendum. The issue remains a divisive one.

The Commonwealth of Nations formerly known as the British Commonwealth includes 54 nations in total. It is not a political union but a forum in which diverse nations come together to meet and share in their mutual cultures and ideologies. It is a non-political organization and the powerless figurehead of the group is Queen Elizabeth the II the reigning Queen of the Britain.

Almost all of the nations in the Commonwealth are former colonies of Britain. Although some former colonies are not in it, for example Ireland. The Queen of England, however, reigns as official head of state for only a small amount of those nations. These include most notably Canada and Australia.

Ms Gillard, who was born in Wales, states that is it was to happen that Australia did leave the Commonwealth it wouldn't be until a change in monarchy in the UK. She also states that  she wishes Queen Elizabeth a long and full life. If Australia was to stop being a commonwealth realm it would be the first to do so since Fiji in 1987  via a military coup.

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