May 14

Republican politician admits to perjury

Republican politicians have a problem.

They have sworn an Oath of Allegiance to their Sovereign, or they have affirmed their allegiance. Oaths of course are meant to be kept, but I suspect that this view may be dismissed by some to-day as old fashioned. But if this is just an old fashioned view, how does this affect the administration of justice, which depends so much on of sworn evidence?

An article in the May 2005 issue of Quadrant, at page 65, mentions how the breaking of the most trivial of oaths had a religious significance in Elizabethan England, and how difficult this fact is to convey to a modern mainstream audience.

In the very difficult circumstances surrounding the birth of the Irish Free State as a Dominion in 1922, it was agreed that the Oath of Allegiance be taken by members of the new parliament, some of whom had been recently in a state of rebellion against the Crown.There had been arguments against the Oath, including a proposal that the Oath be to the constitution, rather than to The King.

The Oath of Allegiance to The King, His Heirs and Successors, was duly taken by all of the members, but immediately afterwards, one of the party leaders, Thomas Johnson, announced that his party recognized the taking of the Oath as a formality, a condition of membership of the legislature, implying no obligation other then the ordinary obligation of every person who accepted the privileges of citizenship. (Of course, all citizens or subjects owe allegiance to the Sovereign whether they have formally accepted citizenship, as immigrants do. My mother became a British subject, the legal status of all Australians then, by marriage. I became a British subject on my birth; subsequently, by statute, along with all of my compatriots I also became an Australian citizen.Our status as British subjects was revoked by statute in 1973)

Most republicans today argue that they can still propose a lawful change to the constitution and that this is not inconsistent with their oath to the constitutional monarch. Most swear, or affirm in silence. Not all do – one British republican politician was filmed recently crossing his fingers behind his back while he held the bible in his other hand. Perhaps he did it for light entertainment – I wonder what his constituents thought. In earlier times he would have gone to the Tower!

Perhaps some republican politicians who appreciate the moral,and indeed, legal gravity of swearing a false Oath on The Bible justify this by relying on an argument permitting a strict mental reservation at the time of swearing. But I understand that this would have little support among orthodox theologians.

The issue of the Oath arose in the recent debate in the NSW Legislative Assembly on the bill to remove the Oath of Allegiance to The Queen, and substitute an oath to the people. Mr.Anthony Roberts, the member for Lane Cove, argued impressively for the retention of the Oath. He asked Mr. Alan Ashton, the member for East Hills, whether he had perjured himself when he reluctantly signed an a document pledging loyalty to The Queen as an alderman. Now politicians are not conscripted, they are not forced to become politicians. What would be the position be in a republic? Would monarchists be expected to swear a republican oath? Of course they would.

In any event, Mr. Ashtons response to Mr. Robert’s question was stark. The question was:

"Did you perjure yourself? (
.
To this  he answered:

"Yes, quite simply, of course I did….All republican members of Parliament have perjured themselves "

Having admitted perjury, Mr. Ashton went on to suggest that I had probably missed the fact that the Bill had been introduced some time ago. Not so, Mr. Ashton! We were well aware of this.

On 19 May , 2004, Kerry Jones put out an ACM release stating that the Constitutional Amendment (Pledge of Loyalty) Bill, 2004 had been introduced into the New South Wales Parliament. She said:

" Proposed by republicans, it hopes to abolish the Oaths of Allegiance MP’s and Ministers are required to take under the State Constitution as well as the Ministers’ Oath of Service to The Queen. These would be replaced by a pledge of loyalty and a Minister’s Oath that deletes the Queen. This is being proposed by republican Members of Parliament who themselves have, sometimes more than once, sworn an Oath or affirmed their Allegiance to The Queen! The proposed new pledge is:

(Under God,) I pledge my loyalty to Australia and to the people of New South Wales. The bracketed words are voluntary.

This is being done notwithstanding the strong No vote against the republic in 1999, and the clear provisions entrenching the Crown in the Federal and State Constitutions, as well as in the Australia Act 1986.

ACM will be doing everything possible to oppose this dreadful bill. However it seems likely that Bob Carr will have the numbers to bulldoze it through the Parliament. It has already gone to the NSW Upper House currently in recess. We will keep all supporters informed of when the Upper House debate is likely to occur and will encourage all ACM supporters to strongly oppose this latest attempt at republicanism by stealth. Just imagine what the republican politicians would do if they could secure a Yes vote in a future plebiscite! No doubt electors will let their MPs know what they think of this disgraceful example of creeping republicanism.

Yours in Defence of our Crown and the Constitution,

(Mrs.) Kerry Jones "

Mr. Ashton said he had heard of no critics of the bill, except possible me. This confirms the fear that some politicians not only do not read petitions, they are not even aware that they have been presented. I can understand the Mr. Ashton may not watch this ACM site, but surely he reads Hansard on a subject about which he is , as media say, passionate.. (It is with considerable pleasure that I note the media never accord such a condition to monarchists)

 In any event, do what they may, the republican politicians cannot divest themselves of their allegiance to The Queen while we remain a constitutional monarchy. And they are still subject to the various checks and balances under the constitution, including the Crown. This irks many of them – the NSW Premier himself was reported as saying when he evicted the Governor from Government House:

"This one’s for Jack Lang!"

 The proposal to substitute an oath to the people for the Oath of Allegiance has not been associated with any proposal to enable the people to enforce the oath, for example by creating a right of recall as in California. I am not advocating that – it does not seem to be consistent with the Westminster system-but neither is attempting to anticipate a major constitutional change before the people have so decided and against their wishes as expressed in 1999.

In addition to Mr. Roberts, Ian Armstrong, Barry O’Farrell, Andrew Stoner, Andrew Fraser and John Brogden, who is a republican, argued for the retention of the Oath of Allegiance. This debate, the Second Reading debate, is accessible at: www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/parlment/hanstrans.nsf/mostrecentLA/hansard.

In this context, it was a pleasure to read the following release by Dr. Noel Cox, Chairman of The Monarchist League of New Zealand Inc:

"11th May 2005 Oaths Review

 Following a review of oaths conducted over the past year the Minister of Justice, the Hon Phil Goff, yesterday introduced a Bill into Parliament to alter a range of official oaths, and the oath of allegiance. Oaths altered by this Bill cover Allegiance, Citizenship, Members of Parliament, the Judiciary, Executive Councillors, Parliamentary Under-Secretaries, members of the Armed Forces, Police, special constables, and the local government officials’ declaration.

The Bill provides a Maori version of each oath as an option. In conformity with the stated aim of modernising the wording of oaths the proposed changes include the removal of what is described as archaic language, and words or phrases that were redundant or lacked clear meaning; simplifying meanings; and ensuring a consistency of language wherever appropriate. Standard phrases have also been incorporated where possible.

Public consultation during the review drew only a limited response, but there was clear support for retaining the current values and beliefs, particularly loyalty to the Queen, and this was reflected in the proposed changes.

There are no radical changes, with the oaths continuing to be made to the Queen. The only significant change to oaths and affirmations is that new citizens and members of Parliament will in future pledge loyalty to New Zealand, as well as the Queen, and will commit themselves to upholding New Zealand’s values of democracy, and the rights and freedoms of its people.

While it may be questioned what "loyalty to New Zealand", and "respect for its democratic values" actually mean, it is heartening that no attempt was made to remove the oath of allegiance to the Queen. "

It would seem that the politicians of New Zealand understand the while a country is a constitutional monarchy, they should not engage in the petty forms of creeping republicanism which are common on this side of the Tasman.

Until next time,

David Flint


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