23 Nov 2013

Australia's Governor-General backs republic, gay marriage

1:39 pm on 23 November 2013

The Queen's representative in Australia appears to have backed the republican movement in a landmark speech.

Governor-General Quentin Bryce delivered the final Boyer Lecture of the year in Sydney on Friday evening, outlining her vision of a future Australia.

The ABC reports she expressed support for same-sex marriage, saying she hoped for Australia to become a nation where "people are free to love and marry whom they choose".

"And where perhaps, my friends, one day, one young girl or boy may even grow up to be our nation's first head of state."

The former governor of Queensland was appointed Australia's first woman governor-general in 2008 by then-prime minister Kevin Rudd.

Governors-general serve at the Queen's pleasure but five-year appointments are typical, meaning Ms Bryce is probably nearing the end of her time in the job.

Same-sex marriage advocates were quick to praise Ms Bryce's comments, AAP reports.

In a statementMarriage Equality director Rodney Croome said the governor-general's "dignified support" for marriage equality will be welcomed by the many millions of Australians who support the reform.

"In particular, it will send a message to older Australians that this is a reform they can embrace because it strengthens relationships, families and marriage."

Australian Republican Movement chair Geoff Gallop said it was time to restart the conversation about an Australian head of state.

"We need an unambiguous, independent national identity that reflects and celebrates our freedom, our unity, our values of the fair go and our place in the world."

The full lecture was due to be broadcast on the ABC on Sunday.