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Monday, 2 February, 1998, 11:44 GMT
The glamorous side of Australia's Republican Movement
fundraising event
The Republican movement: young and glamorous
Australia's glitterati have been coming out in full support of the idea of Australia becoming a republic, and severing its formal links with Britain. As the future of the country's constitution is discussed at the Australian Constitutional Convention in Canberra, BBC correspondent Michael Peschardt profiles the country's republicans.

The Republican movement is strong on glamour and style. Television and show business personalities are giving high-profile support to the Republican cause. Many are delegates at the Constitutional Convention.

Poppy King
Poppy King: Young Australian of the Year, 1995
The idea of a republic is particularly popular with the young.

Poppy King is a Republican who feels it is time that an Australian replaces the Queen as head of state.

"It is time to actually stand up and say 'OK, we are a developed independent nation. We no longer need the apron strings that we had. That doesn't take away our bond with Britain but let's move forward," she says.

The Republican campaign, with its slick television advertising, has certainly been a success. The elections of delegates for the Constitutional Convention ended with a clear republican majority.

fundraising event
Republican fund-raisers: do they only appeal to an elite?
But opponents insist that Republicans represent only a middle class elite.

"It's grass-roots Australia who support our current system of government, our current constitutional arrangements, and the stability and unity that they have offered this nation for so many years," says one of the monarchist delegates, Kerry Jones.

Certainly the Republican Movement is the product of the so-called "big end of town", supported by glittering fund-raising evenings. But its leaders say the movement is part of a proud democratic tradition.

turnbull
Malcolm Turnbull: "The core of democracy is the right to choose a leader"
Malcolm Turnbull, head of the Australian Republican Movement, says: "You can say that the Australian Republican Movement is upholding the most fundamental right that the British settlers brought to this country, which is the right to choose your own leaders. That is at the core of democracy, and it's the core of the British tradition of democracy that was planted in this country so many years ago."

At the moment the Republicans clearly command a majority, especially amongst the young.

But that might not be enough to bring an end to the monarchy. Republicans may be united about their aim, but internally they are deeply divided over the constitutional arrangements for a Republic of Australia.

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