Dump Queen as Leader, Australian Urges

<i> Reuters</i>

Prime Minister Paul Keating, unveiling his blueprint for a republic, said Wednesday that Australia must ditch Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as head of state before it can truly be independent.

“It is the government’s view that Australia’s head of state should be an Australian and that Australia should become a republic by the year 2001,” Keating told Parliament.

Keating said Australians would decide by referendum in 1998 or 1999 whether to dump the monarch in favor of a nonpolitical president.

Keating said the former British colony, which has been independent since 1901, would stay a member of the Commonwealth--a grouping of Britain and its former colonies.