March 3

How the Oath of Allegiance was saved in 1995

The NSW Iemma government in NSW has just introduced into the Legislative Council the bill which will no longer require MP’s to swear an Oath of Allegiance, or affirm their allegiance, to The Queen.  

Some time ago, this bill passed the Legislative Assembly on the votes of members who had previously sworn allegiance to he Queen. One even admitted to being a perjurer!

The public of New South Wales will be able to make a judgement on the credibility, propriety and decency of members who are prepared to do this. The point is of course their allegiance to their Sovereign will remain whatever they do. While we remain a constitutional monarchy-the overwhelming decision for the people in 1999 – they cannot unilaterally terminate their allegiance to The Queen.

That this would be introduced at the very time their Sovereign is about to visit the state, cannot just be a coincidence. Is it just a studied insult, or is it an attempt to distract the public from the almost continuous reports of maladministration that dominate the media of NSW? Or does it have something to do with the republican plan to dispense with God Save The Queen, the Australian Royal Anthem, alongside Advanc eAustralia Fair at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

In the context of this, it is interesting to recall what happened when the Carr government attempted, in 1995, to remove the Oath of Allegiance memebrs of the government had previously sworn on the Holy Bible or affirmed.

Young ACM Convenor, Stephen Copeman, reported on these events in the March 2006 of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, the ACM broadsheet. He wrote:

“It was September 1995 and the stage was set for a Bill to be passed that would remove the Queen from the Minister’s and MP’s Oath of Allegiance. The Bill had easily passed in the Legislative Assembly and it looked as though NSW republican MPs had the numbers in the Legislative Council to ensure the Bill would go through.

“ACM supporter Phyllis Stephenson had been a prominent voice in ACM’s campaign. Mrs Stephenson could be frequently heard on Sydney’s airwaves and in the print media alerting the citizens of NSW to the proposed changes.

“On 26 September 1995, at 6:30pm, Mrs Stephenson made a vital phone call to the office of Democrat Mrs Kirkby (It is reported that Premier Carr was present in the office at the time).

“You call yourself a Democrat?” Mrs Stephenson challenged Mrs Kirkby. “ You gave your allegiance to the Queen, we haven’t had the Referendum on a Republic yet, voting for the Bill is unconstitutional!”.

“Little did Mrs Stephenson understand the power that this one phone call would have. The next day the Sydney Morning Herald reported that prominent republican Mrs Kirkby would not be voting in favour of the Bill.

“It is unconstitutional to change the Oaths of Allegiance to the Queen without consulting the people…[Mr Carr] can change the Oath, but the Queen is still Queen of Australia”, Mrs Kirkby said.

“The Bill was defeated in the Legislative Council and the Oath of Allegiance to the Queen preserved in NSW.

Mrs Stephenson had shown the power of the grass-roots voice.

“In voting no, Mrs Kirkby had shown her understanding of the proper function of the NSW Constitution, in which an Oath of Allegiance to the Queen is vital.

She had also seen the Bill for the political stunt it was, asking “How can this be a high priority?”

The Bill had been intended not only to introduce republicanism by stealth, but as a measure to divide the NSW Liberal Party over the republic issue.

“The situation in 1995 showed many similarities to the current republican attempt to change the Oaths of Allegiance. Not only are republican MPs failing to understand the proper function of the NSW Constitution, they are once again ignoring the democratic wishes of the people who so resoundingly voted ‘No’ in 1999, and using the issue as a distraction from their failures in other areas.

“Instead they should be reminded that as the current Premier, Mr Iemma, said in 1999, “If the No case wins, that will be it for a republican system of government for a very long time, if not forever”.

Well Mr. Iemma. What do you say to this?


Oath of Allegiance

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