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Republic of Australia?

February 4, 1997
Web posted at: 7:10 p.m. EST (0010 GMT)

CANBERRA, Australia (CNN) -- Australia's government Tuesday said it would hold a national convention this year to consider how to become a republic, a move that would sever more than 200 years of constitutional ties with former colonial power Britain. Prime Minister John Howard told Parliament the constitutional convention would be held in November or December.

Members of the Australian Republican Movement welcomed the move but said they preferred a direct national vote. Opinion polls show about half of Australian voters want a republic, but also that they think the country faces more pressing problems.

Howard said his Liberal-National government would appoint half the convention's delegates, including several Aborigines and young Australians aged between 18 and 25. The other half would be chosen by voters in a voluntary postal ballot.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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