Labor Wants A Plebiscite On Australia Becoming A Republic

Labor says if elected it plans to hold a $160 million national plebiscite on whether Australia should become a republic.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has approved the funding plan for a public ballot, rather than a postal vote, in parliament's next term, Fairfax Media reports.

Labor spokesman for an Australian head of state Matt Thistlethwaite says the issue probably isn't a top priority for the average Australian right now and he understands that.

"We're not saying it's the most important issue but we are saying that if we are elected at the next election, it's one of the issues that Labor will attempt to deal with during our first term," he told Fairfax.

(Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

Last month, an independent survey of 1000 Australians commissioned by the Australian Republic Movement found 52.4 per cent want a republic.

The movement's director Michael Cooney has called Labor's initiative a "huge step forward".

"Australia's next head of state should be a citizen of Australia, chosen by Australians," Mr Cooney said.

"The campaign for an Australian republic is at its strongest when its leadership is bipartisan and its politics inclusive.

"We hope the government makes the same commitment so all Australians can have their say.

"Republic supporters in the coalition parties have a wonderful opportunity to offer unifying vision and purpose by offering a positive response."