Bishop knocks back new role
JULIE Bishop has turned down an offer to be an ambassador for the Australian Republic Movement.
The former foreign affairs minister, who supports Australia breaking ties with Britain to become a republic, was offered the high-profile advocacy role ahead of the May 18 election, The Australianreports.
Ms Bishop reportedly turned down the role to seek a job in the private sector.
It comes as the movement attempts to rebuild momentum after Labor's shock election loss and politicians are divided on the best model for a republic.
Bill Shorten had vowed to hold a plebiscite on the issue in his first term but new Labor leader Anthony Albanese has highlighted the need for bipartisan support.
"We support an Australian head of state. What we also recognise, though, is that there's a need for bipartisanship in order to secure any constitutional change in this country," Mr Albanese told The Australian.
ARM chairman Peter FitzSimons told the publication he would "fully support" Australia having a head of state that was directly elected by voters rather than politicians if that was deemed a more popular option.
Mr FitzSimons has previously backed the "minimalist" model which would involve the head of state being chosen by parliament.
Voters rejected that model at the 1999 referendum.
Mr FitzSimons will head to Ireland this month to hold talks on how its system to directly elect a president works as senior political republic supporters in Australia back the model.
"Personally, I love the simplicity of the minimalist model: everything stays the same, we just don't ask the Queen of England to approve the PM's choice for governor-general, with that role taken over by parliament," Mr FitzSimons said.
"But if the people want direct election, I fully support it. Most often cited is the Irish model, and I will be going to Ireland in three weeks - on my own ticket, I might add."
Liberal MP Jason Falinski, co-chair of the parliamentary friendship group for an Australian head of state, backs the directly elected head of state model but fellow Liberal republican backers Trent Zimmerman and Andrew Bragg prefer the minimalist approach.
"This is the problem republicans face and this is why I am a pessimistic republican," Mr Zimmerman told The Australian.
"Just as last time the republican cause was split, I think it would be split again. I would only support a minimalist republican model and that does not include a directly elected president.
"Creating a president that is the only directly elected office holder in the country would create enormous tensions between the elected government and the elected individual who serves as the president.
"Over time that would manifest itself into presidents campaigning on policy issues."
Read more at The Australian.