January 13

Another Global Financial Crisis?

Australia’s leading financial journalist Trevor Sykes, also known as Pierpont, is speaking at a lunch on 10 February at which a toast will be offered in honour of the 59th anniversary of The Queen's Accession.

In 1999, Mr. Sykes warned of the dangers of Australia becoming a republic.

Indeed he was so concerned he agreed to appear in the first reading of  a new play at Parliament House Sydney on 18 October 1999. This was a one act play,  “Paul Keating’s Banana Republic,” or, “ A Republic Hypothetical”, written by Professor David Flint.


Other participants in the premiere included the former Chief Justice of Australia,  Sir Harry Gibbs, ICAC Commissioner and Chief Judge of the Commercial Division of the Supreme Court Mr. Justice Barry O’Keefe, Peter Cavanagh, Julian Leeser, David Elliott, Kerry Jones, Christopher Pearson, Natasha Maclaren, Dr. Amy McGrath, John Armfield, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (now Senator) and Philip Gibson.

(We recall more details of that exciting night below)

Now Mr. Sykes is warning us again.

He recalls that the GFC (the Global Financial Crisis), through which the world recently passed, was one of the most traumatic events in the world’s financial history. Can it happen again, he asks.

In his new book, Six Months of Panic (Allen and Unwin,) Mr. Sykes argues that it is probable that as soon as the bright, immunizing memory of 2008-2009 has dimmed — and it’s getting fairly dim already — the USA will have another financial crisis.

The question then becomes whether the misdemeanours of the US banks will again infect the rest of the world, including Australia.

Long our leading financial journalist, Trevor Sykes is creator of the Pierpont column in the Australian Financial Review. He has studied both current and historical financial disasters for more than 40 years.

His other books include The Money Miners, Two Centuries of Panic, The Bold Riders and Operation Dynasty.

He is to speak on this at a forthcoming lunch hosted by the English Speaking Union on Thursday 10 February 2011 at the Sir Stamford Hotel 93 Macquarie Street Sydney.

The cost is $80 ( ESU members $75), RSVP by 1 February on the form which can be downloaded by clicking here.

…the play…

The hypothetical was performed during the referendum campaign in the evening of 18 October 1999 in a packed Stranger’s Dining Room,in  Parliament House, Sydney.

It featured in Trevor Sykes’ Pierpont, column in The Australian Financial Review on 21 October 1999. (Continued below)


Mr Sykes introduced his column with these words:

Being a loyal monarchist, Pierpont will, of course, be voting against the republic on November 6. He sees no good reason why we should remove Queen Victoria as head of state.

So your correspondent was delighted to take part in a hypothetical this week staged by Professor David Flint to rehearse what might happen in the event of Australia’s adopting the Keating-Turnbull model for the republic.

As David is the most prominent member of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy and author of The Cane Toad Republic (Wakefield Press, $19.95), his hypothetical did not spend much time praising the republic but instead concentrated on its potential horrors.

The hypothetical assumed that the Keating-Turnbull model had been approved by the voters and that subsequently a new party called the Radical Party had won office in a landslide under a Prime Minister Grogan.

Once in office, it appeared the only political textbook Grogan had ever read had been written by Laurie Connell. Grogan began a massive program of government assistance to selected white-shoe entrepreneurs, resulting in a blow-out in government debt and expenditure to finance a string of tottering businesses.

Grogan tried to borrow $20 billion overseas to patch the holes in the Government’s funding. By law, any long-term borrowing had to be approved by all the state governments in the Loans Council but Grogan evaded that requirement by describing the $20 billion as being for short-term purposes.

Pierpont sighed nostalgically, overwhelmed by warm memories of Strangler Connor, Tirath Khemlani and the insanities of 1975.


….the author added….

The story is not an exaggeration – I have merely taken the facts which led to the dismissal of the Whitlam government and indicated what could be done under the republicans preferred model, the weaknesses of which were obvious when it was first pulled out of the hat during the last hours of the Constitutional Convention in 1998.

During the campaign the referendum proposed to reconstitute Australia as a republic was, to my surprise, strongly supported by most of the capital city and national press, other significant media and about two-thirds of all sitting members of parliament, state or federal.

As we have seen, the referendum was defeated, with about 43% of electors voting Yes.

The referendum was lost in all six states, the Northern Territory and in 73% of all electorates. As Dick McGarvie said, Australians are wise constitutional people.

Readers are invited to contemplate what might have happened had the referendum passed.

This was not the first republican model which the taxpayers funded the republicans to draft. Their first, in 1993, was recommended by the Republic Advisory Committee appointed by Mr Keating.

Thanks to Justice Ken Handley, we know this would have been a disaster too –as it was in Trinidad (see www.norepublic.com.au; Quadrant, June 2003).



At the end of the play, the cast received a standing ovation from the large assembly in Parliament House, with many calls, “Author” “Author” 

Professor Flint recalls that he appeared with a cigarette in his hand- he hastens to add that it was unlit –  and delivered the celebrated  speech Oscar Wilde gave at the end of the Third Act at the premiere of Lady Windermere’s Fan:

Ladies and Gentlemen.

I have enjoyed this evening immensely.

The actors have given us a charming rendition of a delightful play, and your appreciation has been most intelligent.

I congratulate you on the great success of your performance, which persuades me that you think almost as highly of the play as I do myself.



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