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Page last updated at 05:55 GMT, Sunday, 20 April 2008 06:55 UK

Australia renews republic calls

Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at opening of Australia 2020 on 19 April 2008
Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is looking for big ideas

A government-led summit on the future of Australia has led to renewed calls for a republic and the end of the British monarch as the head of state.

Australia's foreign minister Stephen Smith said a split from the British monarchy was "inevitable".

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd invited 1,000 people, including actors Cate Blanchett and Hugh Jackman, to the two-day summit to brainstorm ideas.

Aboriginal issues and climate change are also on the Australia 2020 agenda.

The meeting, which started on Saturday in the capital Canberra, has brought together Australia's best and brightest brains with the aim of plotting the country's future trajectory.

Delegate cheers

A move towards a republic is one of the main ideas being put forward, with the panel on governance originally agreeing on a 12-year target to have an Australian head of state.

But the government's home affairs minister, Bob Debus, challenged the group to agree to a shorter time frame - a Republic by 2010 which drew cheers from many delegates.

Mr Rudd, whose election in November ended almost 12 years of conservative rule, is a longstanding republican but he has said he does not regard it as a high priority.

On Sunday, Mr Smith said while the centre-left Labour government favoured a split from the country's former colonial power, it was not an urgent matter.

"I regard it as inevitable. I don't see it occurring in 2010," he told Australia's Network Ten.

"It's one of those things I think the nation will attend to in due course."

In the weeks leading up to the summit, radio talk shows invited listeners to call with ideas and about 9,000 messages were sent to the Australia 2020 website.

Final proposals will be delivered to the government but there is no certainty any will be implemented.

Setting 10 themes for discussion, Mr Rudd said: "The old way of governing has long been creaking and groaning.

"Some of these ideas we will be able to embrace, others we will not, and some we will take in part and change."




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