Almost all state and territory leaders declare for a republic

Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett was the only state or territory leader to refrain from signing a statement calling for an Australian head of state. Richard Wainwright/AAP

On the eve of Australia Day, the Australian Republican Movement (ARM) has released a statement of support for an Australian head of state signed by all but one of the nation’s premiers and chief ministers.

Only Western Australian premier Colin Barnett declined to add his name. Both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a former chairman of the ARM, and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten favour a republic but only Shorten wants it on this year’s election agenda. Shorten says a change should not wait for an end of the Queen’s reign.

The declaration reads: “We, the undersigned premiers and chief ministers of Australia, believe that Australia should have an Australian as our head of state”.

The bottom-line declaration avoids the issue of timing.

National chair of the ARM Peter FitzSimons said: “We are thrilled with this show of support from Australia’s political leaders”. He said it amounted to nothing less than “a declaration of desired independence”.

“Never before have the stars of the Southern Cross been so aligned in pointing to the dawn of a new republican age for Australia,” he said.

He described the one non-signatory, Barnett, as a “self-identified republican”.

The non-Labor signatories are New South Wales’s Mike Baird, Tasmania’s Will Hodgman and the Northern Territory’s Adam Giles. Unlike the Labor signatories, they did not provide supporting statements.