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  • Australia is one of 16 countries where Queen Elizabeth II remains head of state.

    Australia is one of 16 countries where Queen Elizabeth II remains head of state. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 January 2016

All but one of the heads of Australia's states and territories have called for the transition to a republican system.

Almost all Australia's regional leaders backed a petition Monday calling for the country to ditch the British monarchy.

“We, the undersigned premiers and chief ministers of Australia, believe that Australians should have an Australian as our head of state,” the petition read.

The only regional head not to sign the petition was Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has responded to the declaration by stating his “commitment to Australia having an Australian as head of state is undiminished.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she signed the document “in a heartbeat.”

“I firmly believe Australia is ready to have an Australian as our head of state,” she said, according to the Courier Mail newspaper.

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The near unanimity between Australia's leaders represents a major step towards “the dawn of a new republican age,” according to Peter FitzSimons from the Australian Republican Movement.

“All of Australia's political leaders now support an Australian head of state, including (Prime Minister) Malcolm Turnbull and (opposition leader) Bill Shorten,” FitzSimons said.

“Never before have the stars of the Southern Cross been so aligned,” he added.

The Australian Monarchist League has responded by stating the republican movement still lacks the support of the majority of Australian voters.

Never before have the stars of the Southern Cross been so aligned

"Unfortunately it's only got 4,000 signatures — there are some 16 million eligible voters in Australia," league spokesperson Gabrielle Hendry told Australia's ABC.

Australia is one of 16 countries where Queen Elizabeth II remains head of state. In Australia, the queen has a largely symbolic role, though the country has long been sharply divided over whether to abandon the monarchy in favor of a republic system.

In 1999, a referendum proposing the transition to a republic was voted down, with just under 55 percent of voters opting to remain a constitutional monarchy.

A 2014 Fairfax-Nelson poll found 51 percent of voters still favor remaining with the monarchy.

The regional leaders' petition was released a day before Australia Day on Tuesday – known by many as Invasion Day, as it marks the beginning of British colonization of the continent in 1788 and the consequent massacre and abuse of the original inhabitants.

OPINION: Australia's Annual Celebration of Genocide and Conquest

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