Australia should break ties with the Royal family and become a republic, says PM Julia Gillard, but only after Queen Elizabeth II dies.

Gillard, whose Labor Party believe that the country should become a republic, said that said Australia had “deep affection” for the Queen but that she should be Australia’s last monarch.

“What I would like to see as prime minister is that we work our way through to an agreement on a model for the republic,” Ms Gillard told reporters in Townsville, north Queensland.

“I think the appropriate time for this nation to move to be a republic is when we see the monarch change. Obviously I’m hoping for Queen Elizabeth that she lives a long and happy life, and having watched her mother I think there’s every chance that she will.”

In 1999, Australians voted against becoming a republic but many feel that it’s time to break ties with the British monarchy.

With Gillard’s comments, the question of whether Australia should become a republic has suddenly moved to centre stage of the election campaign.

The opposition liberal party includes both republicans and monarchists, but the leader, Tony Abbott, is strongly in favour of the Royal family.

“I think that our existing constitutional arrangements have worked well in the past and I see no reason whatsoever why they can’t continue to work well in the future,” said Abbott.

“So while there may very well be future episodes of republicanism in this country, I am far from certain — at least in our lifetimes — that there is likely to be any significant change.”

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