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New governor general in Australia

By Nick Bryant
BBC News, Sydney

Quentin Bryce is sworn in, as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd looks on
Quentin Bryce is a lawyer and former Queensland governor

Australia has sworn in its first female governor general, Queen Elizabeth's representative to the country.

The appointment of Quentin Bryce is also seen as significant because many Australians hope she will be the last governor general.

By the end of her five-year term, they hope, the country will have become a republic with an Australian as head of state, rather than the British monarch.

PM Kevin Rudd is a republican and so too is Quentin Bryce herself.

Republican debate

This is an important "female first" in Australian history, for never before has a woman been appointed as the governor general.

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Quentin Bryce: 'I promise to be open and responsive'

Ms Bryce has enjoyed a successful career in law, was once the country's sex discrimination commissioner and has served for the past five years as the governor of the state of Queensland.

She is thought to be a republican - that is to say she would like to see an Australian head of state, rather than the present constitutional arrangement, where Queen Elizabeth occupies that role.

Since her appointment she has kept her views on the subject to herself, and is not likely to use her new position to champion the republican cause.

But Mr Rudd, who recommended her appointment, is a public advocate of an Australian head of state, and has spoken about accelerating the republican debate during his term in office.

In 1999, Australians voted in a referendum to keep the monarchy.

But republicans claimed that voters did not like the idea of parliament selecting the president, which is what they were being offered, and wanted to do so themselves.

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