Is Australia planning to hold a referendum on the monarchy?

'It is preposterous, that our head of state is still the accident of birth in aristocracy in the UK,' Australian republicans tell ITV News' Dan Rivers why now is the time for change

The murmuring of republican voices in Australia was quelled during the mourning period immediately after the Queen died.

But news that a Royal visit is definitely being planned for 2024 means the issue of Australia’s complicated relationship with the British monarchy is bound to be re-examined.

The Labor prime minister Anthony Albanese told ITV News there were no plans to hold another referendum on the monarchy in the near future, preferring instead to concentrate his reforming firepower on a settlement with Australia’s indigenous people.

Giving them a permanent First Nations voice enshrined in the constitution is the number one priority when it comes to radical change to the way this country is governed.

Changing the head of state will not be on the agenda in the near term, but probably will gain traction if Labor win a second term, in another three years.

Even the most ardent monarchists concede Australia will one day reconsider the issue.

King Charles, with the Queen Consort. Credit: PA

According to former prime minister John Howard, who spoke exclusively to ITV News, Australia “probably will” hold another referendum in the coming years.

He was in charge the last time citizens were asked if they wanted to remove the Queen as head of state.

“No” was the clear answer which came back - 55% of Australians voted against the idea in 1999.

Pushing through a referendum doesn’t just require a simple majority in Australia. It also needs a majority of voters in four of the country’s six states.

But republicans, like author and historian David Hill, say the failure of the republican campaign in 1999 was partly a testament to the affection many had for the Queen, rather than for the institution.

Asking the same question again with King Charles on the throne may yield a different result.

However, polling conducted immediately after the Queen’s death suggested the number favouring a republic is still well below 50%.

It’s also worth remembering Anthony Albanese has actually appointed an assistant minister for the republic, Matt Thistlethwaite, whose job, among other duties, is pushing forward the cause of republicanism.

It is quite a statement of intent. While change might be off the agenda in the short-term, it remains a long-term goal for Labor.

This all perhaps explains why the Royal Family is keen to travel down under and undertake a charm offensive as soon as is practicable.

Listen to the ITV News Royal Rota podcast

Their not-so-secret weapon will undoubtedly be William and Kate. The Prince and Princess of Wales are generally seen as more in tune with the casual, relaxed attitude that forms the backbone of the Aussie psyche.

King Charles’ recent tribulations with leaking fountain pens were widely picked up by morning news shows here, wincing presenters suggesting the unguarded moment shone a light on the character of the monarch.

Although there were some anti monarchy protests on the streets of cities like Brisbane, after the new King was proclaimed, clamour for constitutional change is decidedly muted.

Australia is currently much more focused on devastating flooding in the south east and the apparent cancellation of warm spring weather.

Many are wondering if this is another sign of manmade climate change. Extreme heat and then torrential rain are certainly what experts have warned will be far more common.

Perhaps King Charles’ track record on campaigning on environmental issues might endear him to an Australian population that is increasingly facing a climate crisis some might argue is far more pressing than changing the head of state.