What is going on at republican HQ? Why are they inventing a series of untruths – three so far?
It all began when republican leader David Morris shouted down Jai Martinkovits, ACM's executive director on Melbourne radio station 3AW.
Morris claimed all polls for past 30 years had shown the nation's youth are the most republican of all.
This is palpably untrue. We have published a selection of 15 polls which confirm this. Particularly embarrassing for David Morris and the republican movement is that one of these is from the very company, UMR, from which they have commissioned their own polls.
…. the second untruth…
Now in a desperate attempt to revive the flagging republican, the republican movement's David Morris has gone to the media claiming first the 1999 republican process was rushed.
Rushed? It took seven years, with the ARM allowed to freely chose the model. The actual referendum question was approved by a parliament at least two thirds of whom were republicans.
To date, there have been 12 major votes and inquiries into how to turn Australia into a politicians' republic. All have been paid for by the taxpayer, 11 wholly so.
If this is rushed, then it is awful to imagine what they have in mind. Are we going to have our politicians tied up for say two decades trying to work out some sort of a politicians republic which satisfies the ARM. Remember that the present time they can't even tell Australians precisely what they want.
…the third untruth – a whopper…
More importantly he claimed to Channel 9's Today programme that the national anthem was under threat. Once he was interviewed by Cameron Williams on air he back pedalled but then claimed "'We had to fight for our national anthem" against monarchist resistance.
This is an invention.
While a National flag was seen as immediately necessary at Federation , Australians used God Save The Queen for formal occasions and a selection of patriotic songs on other occasions. It was a pretty informal arrangement, an understanding or a convention.
Unlike the need for a National Flag, Australians generally did not see the need for a separate anthem until the seventies, probably because of the televising of the Olympics and other sporting occasions.
While all agreed the Royal Anthem would remain God Save The Queen., the only dispute was whether the national song – later called the anthem – was to be the sombre Advance Australia Fair, the rollicking Waltzing Matilda or the stirring Song of Australia.
Monarchists wanted one of these just as they always wanted a separate Australian Flag.
And just on that, it's the republicans who have long had the Australian flag in their sights.
Until 1974 "God Save the Queen" was formally Australia's National Anthem. In the previous year, the Whitlam government decided that the country needed a distinctive national song . They started a competition to find one, ending up not with a new song as hoped.
Only the three named songs were thought suitable, three patriotic songs already used by Australians informally.
After a nationwide opinion poll of 60.000 people, the Whitlam government declared Advance Australia Fair be the National Song, to be used on all occasions except those of ''a regal nature'' where ''God Save The Queen'' would be used.
In January 1976 the Fraser government declared "God Save the Queen" should be the National Anthem for royal, vice-regal, defence and loyal toast occasions – not much different than the Whitlam decision .
The real issue was which song should be the National Song – Fraser preferred Waltzing Matilda. (Note that in office both Whitlam and Fraser declared themselves to be monarchists.
The Fraser government then held a plebiscite to choose a National Song. This was held in 1977 at the same time as four referendums on proposals to amend the constitution.
"Advance Australia Fair" received 43.29% of the vote, defeating the alternatives, "Waltzing Matilda" (28.28%), and "Song of Australia" (9.65%).
…God Save The Queen…
Curiously the government included the Royal Anthem, ''God Save The '' in the plebiscite for a National Song to be used alongside ''God Save the Queen', if you can work that out.
It received 18.78% and compromised the choice.
But "God Save the Queen" remains the Royal Anthem, and is played alongside the Australian national anthem at public engagements in Australia especially those attended by the Queen or members of the Royal Family.
On 19 April 1984 the Governor-General in Council, Sir Ninian Stephen, acting on the advice of the Hawke Government, issued a Proclamation which proclaimed “Advance Australia Fair” with altered words as Australia’s National Anthem and “God Save The Queen” as Australia’s Royal Anthem.
It also proclaimed a new Vice-Regal Salute for the Governor-General and national colours for Australia.
…Hawke government blunder…
As Sir David Smith has pointed out, when it was first submitted to the Governor-General, the Proclamation stated that the Australian Royal Anthem was to be used only in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen or a member of the Royal Family. (My emphasis)
The Governor-General was aware that a number of organisations were in the habit of singing "God Save the Queen" at their meetings, and that it was also sung in Church as a hymn.
Before the Executive Council meeting took place, the Governor-General spoke to the recommending Minister and voiced his concerns about the wording of the proposed Proclamation.
In the light of that conversation, the Minister agreed to alter his recommendation by deleting the word "only" from the Proclamation. The Proclamation was amended at the meeting, after which it was approved by the Executive Council, signed by the Governor-General, and gazetted in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette No. S142 of 19 April 1984 in its amended form.
Later that day Prime Minister Hawke issued a press statement announcing the matters which had been approved and proclaimed by the Governor-General in Council. The press statement contained a significant error, in that its reference to the Royal Anthem contained the word “only” which had been deleted from the Proclamation.
Apparently the Ministers had failed to inform the Prime Minister's press office of the alteration which they had made to the Proclamation in the Executive Council.
As a consequence of the incorrect press statement, since April 1984 State Governors' offices and Premiers' Departments’ protocol offices, and even Commonwealth Government agencies, have given out incorrect information on the use of the Royal Anthem.
"God Save the Queen" remains the Royal Anthem, and is played alongside the Australian national anthem at public engagements in Australia especially those attended by the Queen or members of the Royal Family.
….Song of Australia….
The Song of Australia came from South Australia and was little known in other states. It's probably too late to reopen the choice, but the great Australian baritone Peter Dawson – revered by older Australians – said that it was the 'finest national anthem ever written'.
To hear it played by a RAN band go to http://www.navy.gov.au/about/our-people/navy-band/quarterdeck . It's number 14.
You can hear Peter Dawson sing it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FfQ8x-Wv8w