In a rallying call for a republic, the Federal ALP shadow Attorney General, fresh from affirming her allegiance to the sovereign, dismissed our Constitution as odd. We would have thought she would have better things to write about. The Australian published my protest on 3 March, 2005:
The Shadow Attorney General, Ms Roxon, is absolutely correct when she labels our constitution "odd" Anybody can design a constitutional system. but Australia’s is one of those rarities, a constitution one which works and works well over generations. This is demonstrated by the fact that Australia is one of the world’s oldest democracies.And it is no coincidence that the leading countries of the world, regularly assessed in the UN Human Development index, are dominated by constitutional monarchies.This is testimony to the wisdom of our Founders in preserving the Crown at its heart as an institution above politics and thus a check and balance on the abuse of power.
Having spent vast sums, and having obtained the support of much of the media and the political establishment,the republicans had a free hand to work out how to graft a republic onto our" odd" constitution .This culminated in a landslide defeat in 1999.
Now, under the Latham plan, they propose not one, but three votes to wear us down, all at great expense,and even more distracting to our politicians whom you would hope would realize they have better things to do. This process is designed to result in the regular and costly election of yet another politician as president, which senior republicans – for example Greg Craven and Malcolm Turnbull- warn will be a disaster because it will make the country ungovernable.
Fortunately they say the voters will understand this before the next referendum, which they say will go down to a defeat which will make 1999 seem like a victory.
In the meantime, former PM Robert Lee Hawke, who has also swore or affirmed allegiance to the sovereign, told New Zealanders our constitutional monarchy, and presumably theirs, as well as Canada’s, is absurd.
A republic he insists is inevitable.
If it is inevitable, why, Mr. Hawke did you bother to cross the Tasman to tell the New Zealanders? The last time Mr. Hawke campaigned for a republic, the proposal was rejected in every state. During the campaign, he called me a lyer for saying that if a Commonwealth realm becomes a republic, the consent of all members of the Commonwealth is necessary for our continued membership of the Commonwealth of Nations. I had pointed this out because the Attorney General had not mentioned this process when discussing the impact of the proposed change. I obtained a letter from the Secretary General of The Commonwealth to confirm this.
What was surprising was that many republicans were not only unaware of this long established procedure, they actually denied it existed!
I said at the time that those who propose change had a duty to be aware of all the consequences and of the procedures needed to maintain our membership in the Commonwealth – surely a reasonable requirement.
PRINCE CHARLES VISIT
The visit went very well, apart from some foolish republican stunts which does their cause no good at all. One of our young supporters, David Hull shook hands with the Prince, saying:
Welcome to Sydney, Sir. You are the best Governor General we never had.
The Prince replied:
How kind of you to say that. Now who put you up to it?
Australians were able to see the Prince on this visit as a charming, witty man, caring for a number of important causes.
SHAME! SHAME ON SOME POLITICIANS
And shame on those few republican politicians, also fresh from affirming their allegiance, who so distorted the costs of the visit. More money is spent to allow the politicians to grandstand about their often useless Senate Committees. Just how much did the entirely superfluous inquiry into the republic cost last year?
Why cost the security which the authorities invariably decide to allocate to visitors, diplomats and VIPs. Apart from Prince Charles, the republican politicians never raise this about anybody else. And the security service is already there-it is not as if it were suddenly hired for this visit.
Meanwhile the Sun-Herald published my letter on 6 March, 2005:
You were right to say that it would be tactically stupid for republicans to try to capitalize on the wedding of Prince Charles and Mrs. Parker- Bowles. The republican movement, anxious to raise their flagging cause, has not heeded your advice. But the fact that the usual gaggle of so called Royal watchers and experts in London have decided to increase their incomes and circulations in putting words into the mouths of members of the Royal Family will impress few Australians, who can see through this.
If Australians were told that just last year, Prince Charles raised a quarter of a billion dollars for the disadvantaged, they would have a better understanding of his agenda, which they could compare with the ambitious politicians angling to become our first president.
Incidentally, the 1999 referendum question was not, as you suggest, a ‘tricked –up” question. You must have forgotten that the republican movement tried, unsuccessfully to remove just two words from the question- ‘republic’ and ‘president’.
I wonder why.
Australians for Constitutional Monarchy….
A SAILOR PRINCE
When the Prince was in Canberra on Saturday, visiting the War Memorial, the Channel 10 news reported that The Prince had a distinguished record of service, which along with his considerable charitable efforts, is usually forgotten.
The Prince of Wales served in the Royal Navy for five years in the 1970s:
- 1971-72: HMS Norfolk
- 1972-73: HMS Minerva
- 1974: HMS Jupiter
- 1974-75: Helicopter flying training at RNAS Yeovilton
- 1975: Pilot with 845 NAS on HMS Hermes
- 1976: Captain, HMS Bronington
I was asked by the press on Saturday 5 March, 2006 about the nine objections filed against Charles marriage. I replied that the registrar would most likely dismiss all of them. Most of the grounds, including one from a Church of England clergyman, do not raise a legal objection. I suspect that on the ground that the Royal Family cannot by law contract a civil marriage, I would be surprised if the Registrar would not be guided by the opinion of the Lord Chancellor, which we published recently in this column. Admittedly this was different from the view taken by the Law Officers when Princess Margaret was contemplating a marriage with Group Captain Peter Townsend, but it is not unusual for lawyers to revise opinions. I would have thought that the Lord Chancellors opinion, although not definitive , would be highly persuasive.
In any event, if it were to become necessary, amending legislation could be rushed through Parliament by the Lord Chancellor-the government and opposition support the marriage. Why should not Prince Charles be entitled to do what any other citizen can?
I also observed that this is of no constitutional relevance here. Most Australians believe they should be allowed to marry, and wish them well.
A GERMAN ASSESSMENT OF OUR CROWN – ENVY AND ADMIRATION!
Some of our republicans have become monarchists. Whenever a member of a royal house appears in Sydney or Melbourne, you are knocked over by republicans trying to see them, to reach them, to shake hands with them, all overwhelmed by the magic of monarchy. Of course there is no hit parade of monarchies, but we should recall the German assessment of our own House of Windsor.
The leading German newspaper Die Welt observed at the time of The Queens visit Germany last year:
Every time German democrats look at the British monarchy, they can hardly suppress their envy and admiration for its balance between tradition and innovation. (The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 November, 2005)
That is right. Envy and admiration!
LINKS WITH THE DANISH ROYAL FAMILY
The visit of Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederick has created a certain degree of schizophrenia among some republicans.
Some of them are now calling for the substitution of the Danish Royal Family, the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, for the House of Windsor. Perhaps they should be told of the close and recent links between the Houses.
The Queens great grandmother, Queen Alexandra, was a Danish Princess. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich, also called Philip Mountbatten, was originally Philip, Prince of Greece and Denmark. His father was Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark (1882–1944), a younger son of King George I of the Hellenes (originally Prince William of Denmark). His mother was Princess Alice (1885–1969), who was the eldest daughter of Louis Alexander Mountbatten, 1st marquess of Milford Haven, and Princess Victoria of Hesse and the Rhine, granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Philip was educated at Gordonstoun School, and at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. From January 1940 to the end of World War II, he served with the Royal Navy in combat in the Mediterranean and the Pacific.
On February 28, 1947, Prince Philip became a British subject, renouncing his right to the Greek and Danish thrones and taking his mother’s surname, Mountbatten. After his marriage to the then Princess Elizabeth he continued with the Royal Navy until The Queens accession on February 6, 1952. In 1957 The Queen conferred on him the dignity of Prince of the United Kingdom. In 1960 his surname was combined with the name of her family as Mountbatten-Windsor.
In addtion, that admirable King who resisted the colonels, King Constantine of The Hellenes is from the same House. Back to your history books, republicans!
UNDER THE ROYAL COAT OF ARMS, THE AGE WARNS MONARCHISTS
To mark the visit of Prince Charles to Australia, THE AGE, in its editorial of 26 February, 2005 under the Royal Coat of Arms, argued for the inevitable republic. For those who do not often see the news paper, its most distinguishing feature is the Royal Coat of Arms on the front page and above the editorial!
This was in the Saturday edition, which has long been dependent on those rivers of gold, classified advertising. As one former editor used to tell his staff, you should not assume they buy the paper to read you!
Well the rivers of gold are if not drying up, at least receding. The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have seen the circulation of their profitable Saturday editions shrink at precisely the same time as the population of each city grew. The answer is obvious. More and more advertising, especially classified advertising is moving to the web.
Once the editorial of The Age had almost the same impact as The Times in London. The editor spoke with authority. Now that almost every journalist in every medium gives us the benefit of her or his more often than not politically correct wisdom, we are not short of opinion in media. The problem is to find the news.
In the meantime, under the Royal Coat of Arms The Age continues to campaign for constitutional and flag change, read by that diminishing band who actually read the editorial. The editor touchingly ended by warning monarchists not to damage their cause! My instinct tells me that when republicans tell monarchists to change what they are doing, it is that they fear it may be both correct and effective. The Age insisted:
" Monarchists are adopting a dangerous line in arguing that the prospect of the wife of the heir to the throne being denied full royal status matters so little to Australians that it is of no account to Australia. The all-too-public decline of the monarchy is inextricably linked to the decline in Australians sense of being part of that monarchy. Contrary to Mr. Howards assertion that the wedding in April has no relevance at all to whether or not Australia should become a republic, the public response to the nuptials and to the royal tours reveals Australia already has a republican state of mind. A republican state will inevitably follow"
REPUBLICANS WEEP- MARY IS IN AUTRALIA AND CHARLES IS ON THE WAY
Notwithstanding their editorial, THE AGE too cannot not resist the magic of monarchy. I remember when the new London newspaper decided it was not going to publish Royal News-its readers were too intelligent, too sophisticated for that.
They soon relented!
In a piece in The Age under the heading, Republicans Weep-Mary Is Here and Charles Is Coming (26 February, 2005), we read that:
Julie Sheard, a year 9 student in Copenhagen, puts it this way:
We have a princess and she lives in a castle. You have to believe in fairytales. They put joy in your life. So, republicans, THE AGE reporter says, republicans weep. In time, Prince Frederik is likely to ascend to the Danish throne and Princess Mary with him. Then, says Helve Petersen with a grin, "you Australians will have two queens".
THE IRA AND AUSTRALIA
The IRA remains of interest to Australians for at least three reasons. It was the only significant overseas organization to take part in our constitutional debate, its leader Gerry Adams telling Australians to vote Yes in the referendum debate. (No one today accepts the fiction that Sinn Fein is anything but part and parcel of the IRA) Second, it admitted the brutal murder of two young Australians in the Netherlands, but would not hand over the guilty. Third, Australia is a significant source of funds. As is typical of terrorist organizations, the IRA has moved into criminal activities to maintain its funding, particularly as the US dries up as a source.
Under the headline, IRA MOVES INTO DIFFERENT KIND OF BOOM, Sean O’Neill and David Lister in London reported in The Weekend Australian, 26-27 February 2005, that the terrorist group has branched out to become a successful crime business.
According to Britain’s Special Branch, the IRA director of intelligence, Bobby Storey is now the head of the IRA "elite robbery team" and regarded as the man most likely to have organised the $64.6million) robbery from the National Australia Bank-owned Northern Bank. During the ceasefire which has lasted for more than 10 years, the organisation has transformed itself into one of Europe’s largest and richest organised crime gangs with links with other criminal gangs in Britain and Eastern Europe.
Heavily involved in counterfeiting, smuggling and international money-laundering as well as in major robberies, under Storeys management, the IRAs robbery squad has developed a cruel tactic known as "tiger kidnapping". This was used in the Northern Bank robbery. This is where the family of an employee is held hostage to ensure his or her co-operation. Since last April, there have been 11 "tiger kidnappings", at least four of which have been blamed on the IRA.
Until next time,