The Courier-Mail

GOD SAVE THE ECONOMY ... as Treasurer turns his attention to the republican debate, once again



JOE Hockey – who faces a massive economic challenge – will now take on a constituti­onal challenge by campaignin­g for a republic.

The Treasurer’s good mate, author Peter FitzSimons (inset) revealed at the Canberra Press Club yesterday “we are putting the band back together”, referring to a group of prominent Australian­s who previously campaigned for a republic.

Mr Hockey (main picture) and former ACT chief minister-turned Labor Senator Katy Gallagher will join a new cross-party push for a republic.

The announceme­nt was met with shock by some within the Abbott Government. Liberal Senator and constituti­onal monarchist Dean Smith urged Mr Hockey to focus on his day job.

“The priority for every parliament­arian is to focus on the national economy and on jobs creation, nothing is more important than strengthen­ing g the economyy and creating g jobs at this s time,” Senator r Smith said.

Christophe­r r Pyne and Mal- colm Turnbull favour of a re- public, putting them at odds with the Prime Minister. In 1993-1994, Tony Abbott was the executive director of Australian­s for Constituti­onal Monarchy, which led the “no” campaign at the 1999 referendum.

Mr FitzSimons, who is the national chairman of the Australian Republican Movement, said republican­s would not win while Mr Abbott was in the Lodge. He said he wanted a national plebiscite on an Australian head of state by 2020.

“My point on Tony Abbott is that ... he will be there 10 days, 10 months or 10 years and I wish him well. If Tony Abbott is there for 10 years, we won’t get this over the line,” he said.

A spokeswoma­n for Mr Hockey said his views on supporting a republic were well known and had not changed.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he was thinking of jobs, not a republic. “I th think in the next 10 years, it is pr probably appropr priate for us to h have that nati tional conversa sation. Right n now, I’m focused on jobs, health, ed education and fa fairness in our co community.”

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