Australia s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, second right, acknowledges fellow Labor Party colleagues during a party caucus at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, May 31, 2022. AP
As the United Kingdom's 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth II prepares to celebrate her platinum jubilee, her recently-elected government in Australia took a symbolic step toward her ouster.
Albanese announced that Sydney member of parliament Matt Thistlethwaite would be assistant minister for the republic, in addition to other duties.
Previous Labor leaders have promised a referendum on removing the Queen as Australia's head of state, but Albanese -- a long-time republican -- did not make the promise a feature of his election campaign.
The move was welcomed by the Australian Republic Movement, which campaigns for an Australian head of state.
"WE ARE ON OUR WAY!" tweeted prominent republican and author Peter FitzSimons.
"Let the record show, for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, Australia has a member of the Govt singularly devoted to removing the Crown, and helping Australia become a Republic," he added.
Albanese has previously described Australia becoming a republic as "inevitable".
In 1999, Australians narrowly voted against becoming a republic, following disagreement over the proposal that the Queen's replacement would be chosen by members of parliament, not the public.
Almost 55 percent of voters opposed the move.
Albanese has promised a referendum on giving Aboriginal Australians an institutional role in policymaking, but not on becoming a republic.