Australian regional leaders signed a "declaration of desired independence"

Australia's top regional officials have signed a "declaration of desired independence" as they seek to replace Britain's queen as head of state.

All but one of Australia's state premiers and chief ministers signed the document released by the Australian Republican Movement Monday, which said the country "should have an Australian as our Head of State."

Australia is a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. She is represented in Australia by a governor general.

The declaration came on the eve of Australia Day, which marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the first fleet of British ships and the raising of the Great Britain flag in Sydney.

Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett, the only one of eight top officials who did not sign the document, said he was supportive of a republic but that now was not the right time.

A 1999 referendum to declare Australia a republic was voted down 55 to 45, with 95 per cent voter turnout. Current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was the leader of the republican movement at that time.

Since coming to power last year, Turnbull has said he is supportive of the republic movement but that it should happen only after the reign of Queen Elizabeth II ends.

"We have a simple premise. That in the 21st century Australia can do better than to find our heads of state from one family of unelected English people living in a palace in London," Peter FitzSimons, the head of the Australian Republican Movement, told 9news channel.

His movement is pushing for a vote on the issue by 2020.

Last update: Mon, 25/01/2016 - 09:38

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