Australian republicans have announced their latest tactic to boost the dormant campaign to cut constitutional links with Britain: a 'mate for head of state' day. The republican movement argues that it is absurd that Queen Elizabeth should be Australia's head of state when she lives half a world away. Instead, they say, the appointment should go to an Australian citizen and a 'representative of the people' - in colloquial terms, a 'mate'. This Sunday has been declared a Mate for Head of State Day. Australians are being urged to come together at the quintessential Antipodean gathering - the barbecue - to discuss the sort of person they would like to see appointed president in any future republic. The country rejected the idea of severing constitutional links with Britain in a referendum in 1999, but republicans say it is time to revive the debate. 'It's a populist concept which we hope will grow and grow,' said organiser Anne Henderson, co-founder of a policy think-tank, the Sydney Institute. 'The average Australian will understand the concept of a mate for head of state instinctively. We're boiling it down to the basics - our head of state should be one of us.' The concept of 'mateship' is central to the Australian psyche. The earliest European convicts and settlers found themselves in such a harsh environment that they had to rely on their friends for survival. The idea of a 'mate' as head of state may appeal to Australians' egalitarian instincts, but in truth a future president is likely to be a former politician, judge or senior military officer. In a survey last January, 46 per cent of those polled were in favour of Australia becoming a republic and 35 per cent were against, with the rest undecided. Republicans concede that the debate has stalled in recent years, in large part because the prime minister, John Howard, is an avowed monarchist. They hope to nudge the issue along in March, when the queen is expected to open the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Peter van Vliet, the head of the Australian Republican Movement in Victoria, said: 'While many Australians are fond of the queen, she belongs to a family and culture on the other side of the world that doesn't place the same premium on 'mate'.' But David Flint, the head of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, said the idea was 'self-consciously ocker and tacky'. He said that while Australians are not 'outrageously monarchist', most were happy with the present arrangement. 'Australians are not lying awake at night worrying about who their head of state is,' Professor Flint said. 'Every so often the republicans come up with some sort of stunt, but I can't see this one getting very far.'