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FitzSimons calls time on leadership of republican movement

The Australian Republic Movement is set to have a new chair within weeks after Peter FitzSimons decided against renominating for the position.  

FitzSimons has declared the time is right for a new chair as the republican movement ramps up its campaign following the death of Queen Elizabeth II and accession of King Charles III. 

He has held the role for more than seven years, having replaced former Western Australian premier Geoff Gallop as chair in July, 2015.   

“As I said in a note to members, while I fancy I have been a drum for (Australian Republic Movement), it is probably time for a flute,” FitzSimons wrote in a Twitter response on Saturday.

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“I was never going to be the one to take it to a referendum, and the timing is right not to run again.”

In another response, FitzSimons reflected on how the role was “hard on occasion” but added it was “also tremendously rewarding” as he mentioned Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s decision to appoint Matt Thistlethwaite as Assistant Minister for the Republic.

“I’ve learnt heaps, dealt with wonderful people and loved it. And I am thrilled to be leaving with the ARM in such good shape,” he said. 

“We have a Minister for the Republic, more members and supporters than ever, and going strong.” 

The announcement comes just a week after the republican movement resumed campaigning following the period of mourning for the Queen after her death on September 8. 

Fitzsimons last Friday had issued a personal plea for Australians to join the movement as it seeks to end the country’s ties with the British monarchy.     

“Rule by birthright, a literally born-to-rule English sovereign, has no place in a democratic, egalitarian Australia,” he said. 

“The notion is as foreign to Australian values as the monarchy itself. Nor should anyone be forced to pledge allegiance to a foreign King or Head of State – our Head of State should pledge to serve us, and only us, instead.

“Only an Australian should have the honour of becoming our Head of State.”  

Nominations for the Australian Republic Movement national committee closed on Friday, with voting set to take place in the second half of October.  

Australians last voted on whether to become a republic in 1999, with the majority opting to remain as a constitutional monarchy. 

Mr Albanese said he will not hold a referendum on whether to became a republic during this term of Parliament because his focus is on the vote to establish the Voice to Parliament.    

“I’ve made it clear before the last election, my priority and the priority of the government I lead would be recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our constitution,” the Prime Minister told Sky News Australia last month. 

“It is inconceivable to me that you would have a debate about an Australian head of state before you had recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our birth certificate.”

The British monarchy has seen a surge of support on Australian soil following the Queen’s death and the subsequent accession of her son King Charles to the throne.

The Menzies Research Centre showed support for remaining a monarchy and keeping a royal head of state has risen from 43 per cent in January to 57 per cent.

The conservative think tank poll revealed that King Charles III has been welcomed by Australians as the successor to Queen Elizabeth.

Data showed that 75 per cent of people polled thought Charles would make a good King, compared with 33 per cent who believed him to be weak or out of touch.

Another survey by Roy Morgan showed about 60 per cent of Australians want to remain in the monarchy as opposed to 40 per cent of residents in favour of severing ties to become a republic.

An Essential poll – published in The Guardian – saw support for King Charles as the head of state at an even 50-50 but it also showed support for a republic had barely moved in recent years.

Less than half of the 1,075 respondents (43 per cent) said they supported a republic while opposition to an Australian head of state had increased by three per cent to 37 per cent from when the question was last asked in June.

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