Given the five years of fun we had at the Australians expense as they played catch-up over same sex marriage equality, it's time to make sure they don't get their own back by beating us to the draw on becoming a republic.

Across the Tasman, Labour leader Bill Shorten has promised a simple yes-no plebiscite in his first term if Labour is elected at the next federal election, which has to take place before May 2019

On New Year's Day, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, head of the Australian Republican Movement when the 1999 referendum on the issue failed, also raised the issue, agreeing a plebiscite, or a postal survey along the lines of last year's successful marriage equality poll, could be the way to go. He doubted there would be an appetite for change until the Queen vacates the throne, but given she turns 92 in April … !

On this side of the Ditch, Prime Minister Jacinda Adern nailed her republican colours to the masthead during the recent election campaign telling the London "Times" her attitude was driven by "my view of New Zealand's place in the world and carving out our own future."


Earlier she had told the Herald "I do think that we should start having the conversation [about becoming a republic.]. There are a lot of issues that need to be resolved on that path, and I would have liked the government to have had that conversation when the flag debate came up."

With her post-election 100 days action plan now all but out of the way, what better time to show the Aussies how it's done, by starting that debate.

On Monday, Sala, the mother of local heavyweight boxing champion, 26-year old Joseph Parker joked on television that she was hoping he'd win his upcoming title bout so he'd have enough money to buy a house and finally leave home.

Of all the many arguments I've heard, and used, over the years for cutting New Zealand's apron strings with Mother England, Mrs Parker's throwaway line sums up the situation perfectly.

Monarchist can prattle on endlessly about how retaining the monarchy brings stability, and is cheaper than having a homegrown head of state and the like. But when you boil it all down, you can't escape the fact there's something a little unnatural about a grown child of, shall we say, 178 years old, still electing to live in mummy's back bedroom.

Deciding to pack our bags and finally leave our Buckingham Palace nursery room isn't being rude to the Queen. It's just the natural order of things, and she's reportedly acknowledged as much to past prime ministers.

And if we can clear off before big brother across the Tasman, so much the better. The bragging rights are ours for ever.

The 1999 referendum failed in Australia because the Government of the time wanted a symbolic president, in effect, a governor-general with a name change, but the majority of voters wanted a directly elected president.

Hopefully the recent antics of directly elected presidents such as Trump and Mugabe and Duterte, will be enough to persuade voters on both sides of the Tasman that the existing Westminster system is not so bad after all. That the no fuss minimalist approach – selecting a president by a two-third vote of parliament, to carry out the existing Governor-General's role – is basically all that's needed to cut the imperial apron strings.

Moving on, last week I referred to a conversation that Labour politician Michael Bassett wrote about between him and Cardinal Delargey in which the Catholic leader claimed he'd had to sack future deputy prime minister Jim Anderton when he worked for the church in the late 1960s "when he put us in a position when we had to make a choice between him or the Pope."

Anderton's then wife Joan, tells me the issue was simply over schooling. Anderton was working as a fundraiser under Delargey.

"Our children were being sent to a state school and the church at that time said you had to send them to a Catholic school. I wanted our kids to be educated at a state school."

Anderton stood his ground and was sacked.