The push for Australia to cut ties with the Monarchy and establish an Australian as Head of State will be lead by former Socceroo and human rights activist Craig Foster.
Foster, who was named NSW Australian of the Year in recent weeks, will replace Peter FitzSimons as chair of the Australian Republic Movement, it was announced on Wednesday.
FitzSimons named his replacement on social media where he wrote: “Warmest congrats to the New Chair of the ARM. Please give it up for Craig Foster. He will be wonderful.”
FitzSimons was chair of the movement for seven years and said he “loved it”.
“ARM is in great hands,” he wrote.
Foster, who has spent his post-football career as a commentator and advocate for refugees and asylum seekers, acknowledged the “distinguished service” FitzSimons had given to the position.
“Special thanks to the many thousands of members & all supporters across the country on behalf of those new to the roles,” he wrote.
“We look forward to bringing this important cause to life.”
FitzSimons, who is married to Lisa Wilkinson, announced he was stepping down as head of movement in October, weeks after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
The author and former international rugby player confirmed he would not be standing for re-election.
“Thank you all, it’s been an honour, and a pleasure,” he wrote on Twitter.
The news was first reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, where FitzSimons has been a long-time columnist.
He told the newspaper he had always intended to step down before any republic referendum campaign, which may occur in a second term of the federal Labor government.
“I am thrilled with what has been achieved by the movement on my watch,” FitzSimons said in a written statement.
“Building on the fine work of my predecessors who kept the show on the road in the fallow years after the 1999 referendum, my colleagues and I have been able to make great strides. It is wonderful, right now, to have the republic on the agenda, to have a strong movement with expanding membership and money in the bank – and, most importantly, to have for the first time in history, a ‘Minister for the Crown devoted to removing the Crown.’”
The ARM has ramped up its campaign following the official end of the mourning period for Queen Elizabeth II, saying there is “no longer any excuse to delay” the change.
Australians did not choose King Charles III and polls showed Australians did not approve of him as King, according to the movement.
“His support is unlikely to get any better than it is now,” a statement on Friday read.
“Multiple polls also show a majority of Australians aged under 35 want Australia to become a republic.
“For decades, monarchists and others have claimed that it would be rude to make a move to a republic while the Queen was on the throne.
“There is no longer any excuse to delay this important step forward for Australia.”
— with NCA NewsWire