There are certain things which belong to ANZAC Day – The Last Post, Reveille, the Australian National Flag and God Save The Queen, the Royal Anthem.
Once there was even a frontal attack on the relevance of the ANZAC Day itself. This has collapsed; now the attack is piecemeal with the Royal Anthem and the Australian Flag being the first in the firing line.
But both have been part and parcel of the ANZAC tradition from the beginning.
These attacks must be repelled, and the integrity of our national heritage preserved.
The campaign by media personalities Ray Martin and Peter FirzSimons broadcast on Channel 9's 60 Minutes programme on ANZAC evening was a serious miscalculation.
This alienated a good slice of those in the already minuscule support base for flag change, and more importantly, those who respect them for their achievements.
As we explain below, the evidence clearly is that when it comes to the necessarily arduous process of changing the Australian National Flag, they are not within a cooee of first base.
.…integral to the Dawn Service: The Royal Anthem…
The first official ANZAC Dawn Service was held at the Sydney Cenotaph in 1927. Although the service has evolved, it has since its inception always included God Save The King or Queen, with a lone bugler playing The Last Post and Reveille.
As the eloquent Master of Ceremonies at the 2010 ANZAC Dawn Service on this video of a Channel 9 broadcast explains, God Save The King or Queen was the National Anthem from 1788 to 1984. It was during this period that most of the soldiers, sailors and air force men and women the subject of this commemoration actually served.
And in 1984, when Advance Australia Fair was made the National Anthem, God Save The Queen retained a place of particular honour as the nation's Royal Anthem.
In recent years and in some places God Save The Queen has been deleted from Dawn Services on spurious grounds including the claim that young people do not know the words.
Let us hope that not knowing the words of those magnificent hymns usually sung at the Dawn Service, such as Abide With Me or as on this video, Oh God Our Help In Ages Past, does not lead to their removal too.
The truth is the removal of the Royal Australian Hymn is an act of creeping republicanism required by those elites who refuse to accept the landslide decision of the people in 1999 to remain, as the preamble to the Constitution Act declares, a Federal Commonwealth under the Crown.
They have brought their politics into an occasion which should be above politics.
….serving under the National Flag….
On Anzac Day in 2010 veterans marched as always under the Australian Flag. The video below from the ABC broadcast shows the The Scots College Pipes and Drums marching too, proudly wearing the tartan of the Black Watch, the Royal Highland Regiment, for which they have had permission since 1931.
The Band started in 1900, when five boys joined the Cadets as Pipers. At present, there are over 200 boys learning to play or playing the bagpipes or drums. Since then, the Pipes and Drums boast a proud record of representing the College at national and international venues and marching each year on ANZAC Day in Sydney.
In the 2010 ANZAC March in Sydney, the Scots College Pipes and Drums led 300 cadets each proudly bearing an Australian Flag, and what a wonderful site that was to behold. Our Flag is not as a tiny but noisy minority maintain a colonial relic to be shredded and replaced by some unknown and unloved alien symbol.
The Australian Flag is intimately related to our past, our present and to the very future of our nation, for it represents the very pillars which made and maintain our Commonwealth of Australia.
Captain Arthur Philip did not come alone in 1788 – with the eleven ships, the convicts, the sailors and the marines he brought four priceless gifts which are with us today.
These are not colonial relics; they are the pillars of our nation. These are our English language, the rule of law under the common law, our Judeo Christian values which are meant for all, as the Reverend Richard Johnson stressed in the first sermon, and leadership beyond politics.
This comes through our oldest institution, the Crown which before self government sought to protect the weak against the strong and later, was to become a significant check and balance on the political class both directly and through the allegiance it gives to the other institutions outside of and beyond the the control and machinations of party politics.
In a surprisingly short period of time, and before the Eureka Stockade, the British had introduced legislation to give us self government under the Westminster system, with our own Parliaments and governments.
Then came the sixth pillar, the people’s decision “humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God…to join together in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown” – if you will, a crowned republic.
No one surely suggests we treat these as colonial relics – although some have tried to construct a mock Crown to replace the real one.
…the "stars and crosses" at the heart of the nation…
Immediately on Federation our predecessors adopted a Flag – the ”stars and crosses” – which symbolises these very pillars of the Commonwealth of Australia. And that is the Australian Flag which now flies so proudly over our nation.
The flag changers claim Australians did not serve under the Australian flag until recently but served only under the Union Jack. At the end of the video on the final campaign of the ANZACs from the Australian War Memorial, posted at the foot of this column, we can see soldiers firing a volley to honour the fallen. Two flags honour them, the Australian Flag and the empire flag, the Union Jack. There are many other examples.
The point surely is that our National Flag could not better symbolise our language, the rule of law under the common law, our Judeo Christian values, leadership beyond politics through the Crown, the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy and the attainment of one nation through federation.
With those pillars and under this Flag we Australians have secured two remarkable achievements.
First we have established one of the world’s oldest, most egalitarian and stable democracies.
Second we have been unequalled in the contributions we have made to the freedom and liberty of other peoples across the world and through the last century, a fact which we celebrate with pride on ANZAC day when we commemorate those who fought for and died for this Commonwealth of Australia.
The current flag changing campaign is being spearheaded, as we have seen by the prominent media personalities, Ray Martin and Peter FitzSimons who joined forces over coffee on Sydney’s North Shore last month.
This alliance – we hesitate to call it an axis – culminated in the 60 Minutes programme on ANZAC Day.
Their argument is that because a small minority do not support the Flag it should be changed. They seem to assume that there is some alternative flag which would enjoy even more support than the present Australian National Flag. If there is such a flag, we would like to see it. We fear we will be denied that pleasure. Such a flag clearly does not exist.
Since 1998, the Flag Act has prescribed a democratic procedure under which the Australian National Flag may be changed. Parliament has surrendered its exclusive power to change the Flag. (If the House and the Senate agreed, the politicians could take back the power.)
Under the 1998 reform the present Flag ceases to be the Australian National Flag if – and only if – it and a new flag or flags, are submitted to the voters in each State and Territory. One of the new flags must then be chosen by a majority of all the electors voting.
Mr. FitzSimons must do more than wrap himself in a red bandana, a she did for 60 minutes. He, Mr. Martin and the other flag changers have to do three things.
First they must choose a new flag or flags, rather than registering their dislike of the present Flag.
Second, they must persuade the Federal Parliament to hold a vote. (The Labor Party has retreated from the Keating government commitment to early flag change. While the National Platform is committed to holding a series of plebiscites and a referendum on changing to a politicians’ republic, it is silent on the Australian National Flag. Presumably this is a matter to be delayed until such a republic is achieved. In the meantime the ALP logo is based on the Flag without the Union Jack. )
Third they must win such a vote.
During the preparation of the programme, we understand Mr. Martin with cameras in tow visited a school in a multicultural suburb of Sydney. If anyone should want change he assumed they would.
But the visit provided no useful ammunition. We understand the students overwhelmingly rejected any change whatsoever.
The flag changers are not within a cooee of first base.