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Australia reopens debate over ditching monarchy

Opposition leader promises referendum on cutting ties to British royals

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Britain's Queen Elizabeth receives flowers from people at Melbourne during an 11-day official visit to Australia in October 2011.   © Reuters

MELBOURNE -- For many Australians, her face is a more common sight than their own mother's. In fact, most see her every single day. But if the country's opposition leader wins the next election, as polls suggest is likely, Australians could be saying goodbye to Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, and her successors -- not just on their currency, but as head of state.

Bill Shorten, head of the Labor Party, thrust the issue of an Australian republic up the political agenda with a recent speech promising a constitutional referendum on ditching the monarchy within his first term in office.

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