Is it time to be rid of the Royal Family?
Is it time to be rid of the Royal Family?

God Save The Queen: Turnbull flags republic 'postal vote'

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull says a postal vote similar to that of the same-sex marriage vote could be used to determine how Australia elects a president under a republic.

Mr Turnbull spoke yesterday about how the nation could move to sever ties with the monarchy at the end of Queen Elizabeth II's reign.

It follows former Labor prime minister Paul Keating lashing out at Mr Turnbull, who was head of the republican movement in Australia during the failed 1999 referendum bid, as a "chameleon" on the issue.

Mr Turnbull said he expected the republic issue to resurface after the Queen's reign ends, but there first needed to be an "open and honest discussion" on how a president would be appointed.

"It may be a plebiscite or may even be a postal survey, given the success of the postal survey," he said.

He said whether a president would be chosen by Parliament in a bipartisan two-thirds majority as proposed in 1999 or directly elected was "the rock on which the referendum floundered".

However, he talked down the chances of Australia becoming a republic in the near future.

"There is no point pretending that there is an appetite for change when there isn't one at the moment," he said.

Opposition frontbencher Matt Thistlethwaite said Labor had already announced in July it would put a voluntary vote on a republic to the Australian people in its first term in office.

"If the yes vote prevails - and Labor is optimistic it will - then we will work with the Australian people to consider how that head of state is chosen," he said.

"If Turnbull is committed to an Australian republic he should outline a plan, not come up with random thought bubbles."

Staunch monarchist and former PM Tony Abbott fired a warning shot against any moves towards a republic.

"We don't need to dump the Queen to be a great country. Republicans will never win by running Australia down," he posted on social media.

Australian Republican Movement chair Peter FitzSimons said republicans did not "run down" Australia but believed Australia was "strong enough and mature enough to let go of England's hand" and to be independent.

Mr Keating told the Australian newspaper yesterday that he questioned Mr Turnbull's commitment to the republican movement.

But Mr Turnbull hit back, describing Mr Keating as "barely coherent".

"He seems to be critical of every prime minister and former prime minister apart from himself," he said.