“Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit,” wrote Oscar Wilde, “ touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever.”
I often recall Wilde’s witticism in the context of those who insist on removing a fundamental feature of our constitutional system, and who endlessly proclaim themselves “passionate “ about ramming through that change. They surely have a duty to know what they are talking about. And yet, time and time again, some republican somewhere loudly declares the wildest of claims, only to be shown to be misinformed. During the referendum, I remember one republican insisting in a letter published in the Courier Mail that the British were totally opposed to Federation. They were actually the first to propose it, and were vehemently condemned for it in the colonies. Many republicans were outraged at a debate in Perth during the referendum when I dared to point out that the aim of nineteenth century republicanism was to establish a white racist republic free of the constraints of the British Empire. That is of course well documented in the columns of The Bulletin, which, within living memory, still carried the front page banner “Australia for the White Man”
During the referendum campaign, Senator Stott Despoja asked why Australia could not become a republic. After all, she triumphantly declared to an astounded assembly of celebrities at the NSW Public Library, Canada was already a republic: see this column of 5 July, 2001.
Philip Adams not only claimed, but twice insisted that Sir Robert Menzies had recommended Richard Casey as Governor-General because he feared him as a rival. In fact, Lord Casey had left politics years before, and, anyway, having an Australian Prime Minister based in the House of Lords is drawing a very long bow: see this column of 2 February, 2006 and again, column of 5 August, 2006. ( I believe Mr. Adams tried to persuade his editor not to publish a letter from me pointing this out.)
Peter FitzSimons claimed in a sports column –yes a sports column -that the Marseillaise was written “in honour of the troops of the town, who were heading up to Paris to take on those trying to restore the French monarchy." The monarchy was still there with a constitution in place: see this column of 18 November, 2005. Mr. FitzSimons did not correct his error.
We are told the unsurprising fact that the $33m spent over the last ten years on a federally funded civics exercise has been ‘ a failure’. According to Justine Ferrari, writing in The Australian on 28 November, 2006, the vast majority of teenagers today are ignorant of the origins of Australia Day or Anzac Day. That is hardly their fault. And at least the teenagers, or the overwhelming majority of them, are not intent on changing our constitution and our flag- the latest polling makes that clear. In this they are unlike our passionate republican politicians whose knowledge about what they want to change is surprisingly deficient, as Senator Stott Despoja demonstrated. At the time of the referendum, the then Attorney General did not know of the procedure applicable in the Commonwealth of Nations when a member became a republic. The New South Wales Minister for Education, Carmel Tebbut, told a radio interviewer on 27 November, 2006 that Australia Day commemorated Federation, and on the same day the NSW Premier, Mr. Iemma, thought the first NSW Premier was Sir Henry Parkes, whereas it was Stuart Donaldson. (Sir Henry Parkes first became Premier in 1872, the 14th time a NSW Premier had been commissioned)
Ms. Ferrari reports that the Federal Government blamed widespread ignorance by schoolchildren about Australian history on the failure of state education systems, while the federal Opposition accused the Howard Government of botching civics and citizenship education. What was not revealed was that every member of the group of experts who advised the Federal Government were, believe it or not, all republicans. Such is the monarchist bias of the Howard government that not one – not one – member of that group supported the existing constitutional system. Was that reflected in what they produced?
Some citizens- including monarchists and republicans- have decided to do something about this, and not just leave it to government. They are involved in the Constitutional Education Fund –Australia. (I must disclose I am a trustee. ) CEF-A is entirely non partisan and independent: http://www.cefa.org.au/content/view/47/41/
As for Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, we have never depended just on the magic of monarchy, but on the intrinsic merits of our superb constitutional system. That really annoyed the republicans, who thought they could instruct us on how we should fight the referendum. Continuing this ACM theme of extolling and explaining the benefits of our unique constitution , the Hon. Tony Abbott, MP, Minister for Health in Her Majesty’s Australian Government will launch a new monograph, “Her Majesty at 80: Impeccable Service in an Indispensable Office”, for which Mr. Abbott has written the foreword.
The function will be at the Kent Street meeting rooms, 189 Kent Street Sydney on Tuesday, 12 December, 2006, at 330PM. For reservations, and to buy the monograph, contact our Sydney Office, 02 92512500 in business hours.
Incidentally, please note that on Friday, 1 December, our phones will be going on to message bank as we move to our new national office on the sixth floor at104 Bathurst Street, Sydney
. We should be back on line on Monday, 4 December, 2006.