• Hannah Phillips

This Week in Politics

Malcolm Turnbull heads overseas this week to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London. He’ll also visit Germany, Belgium and France.

At the CHOGM meeting the issue of a successor to the Queen as head of the Commonwealth will arise.

Malcolm Turnbull is supporting Price Charles to take over the role.

However Mr Turnbull’s former organisation, the Australian Republican Movement (ARM), has called for a democratic vote to decide who the new Commonwealth leader should be.

“The Commonwealth nations should make a democratic decision about who should be their next head,” said ARM national Director Michael Cooney.

Mr Cooney said Australian voters should be able to make the same democratic decision about their head of state and that a national vote should be held in 2020 in order to clear the way for a referendum in 2022.

Mr Turnbull told journalists that his support for Prince Charles to succeed the Queen after the next CHOGM is a reconfirmation of the position adopted by Julia Gillard in 2011.

However he said that he remained a republican.

“I definitely believe Australia’s head of state should be an Australian citizen not the King or Queen of the United Kingdom,” he said in a radio interview.

“And we had a red hot go at that in 1999 in the referendum, sadly we lost. But you know, as indeed the Prince of Wales said the other day, whether Australia becomes a Republic is a matter for the Australian people, and so it is.”

However there is strong pressure for the succession of Prince Charles as head of the Commonwealth to be by way of a resolution of the heads of government and not just a question of heredity.

This will require skilled diplomacy on the part of the Prime Minister.

Another matter that will require skilled diplomacy will occur during Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to France to open the Sir John Monash Centre at Villers-Bretonneux.

As the person who initiated the Centre while he was Prime Minister, Tony Abbott has been invited to attend and it’s likely that he will accept the invitation.

This will be a matter of considerable interest to the following media pack and both men will have to tread very carefully if they are to avoid a blow-up that overshadows the rest of the Prime Minister’s visit to Europe.

Malcolm Turnbull will also hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The talks with the French President will probably include a review of the situation in Syria but Mr Turnbull will also extend Mr Macron and his wife an invitation to visit Australia.

In his talks with Chancellor Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May he will canvass the prospects for Brexit and discuss options for free trade agreements with the UK and Europe.

Defence Industry Minister Visits Malaysia

Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne MP is visiting Malaysia from this week from the 16th-17th of April.

Minister Pyne will visit the Team Defence Australia stand at the Defence Services Asia (DSA) 2018 exhibition in Kuala Lumpur.

The stand at DSA 2018 showcases the wide range of products and services Australian defence companies are seeking to export.

“Our Team Defence Australia delegation consists of 27 companies, including small and medium enterprises, a record number for Australian participation at DSA, attesting to the competitiveness and innovative capabilities of Australian defence industry,” Minister Pyne said.

“The soon to be launched Australian Defence Export Office, an initiative of the Defence Export Strategy, will deliver a suite of new initiatives to help Australian companies become export ready, expand their businesses and achieve export success,” Minister Pyne said.

Minister Pyne will also meet with Malaysian Minister for Defence (caretaker), the Rt Hon Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin bin Tun Hssein, and the Chief of the Defence Force to discuss opportunities to deepen Australia-Malaysian industry engagement.

Minister Pyne will also take the opportunity to meet with a number of his other counterparts visiting for DSA to discuss Australian Defence export opportunities and collaboration.

DSA 2018 runs from 16-19 April 2018 at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre, Kuala Lumpur.

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