New Australian PM modifies royal oath

Sydney - John Howard, Australia's new Prime Minister, and a monarchist, declined to swear allegiance to the "heirs and successors" of the Queen when he took office.

Mr Howard pledged allegiance to the Australian people and the Queen in the ceremony before her representative in Australia, Governor-General Sir William Deanes. Mr Howard opposed moves by his Labor predecessor, Paul Keating, to make Australia a republic by 2000, but he would not be drawn on the significance of his oath. Reuter