March 20

Royal Wisdom Praised In The Australian Press!

It is rare indeed to see The Queen praised in the Australian press. It was surprising then to open the weekend national newspaper, to find a column which began: God Save The Queen. My joy in reading this in The Weekend Australian, 19-20 March 2005, was somewhat tempered by the headline ROYAL WISDOM LOST ON NELSONS GLIBNESS.

Happily, the columnist Matt Price was not, as I feared, comparing the words of Her Majesty with some recently discovered scandalous observation by the late and revered Admiral Horatio Nelson. Rather, this was no more than a critique of the policy of the current federal Minister for Education, Brendan Nelson. That is what you would expect in a political commentary.

But it is good to see that Her Majestys good sense is at last being recognized in the Australian media. The Queen had in fact recently stressed the importance of education in building a better future and overcoming conflict, Aids, inequality and poverty. In her 2005 Commonwealth Day Message she said education was the key to unlocking human potential. The Queen’s message was read in Sydney at a luncheon to celebrate Commonwealth Day by The Governor of New South Wales, Professor Marie Bashir.

Her Excellency preceded the reading with comments of her own, for which she is well qualified. She also took the opportunity to praise The Queen on her work in the Commonwealth of Nations.

More than half of the Commonwealth’s citizens were under 25 giving a strong foundation for the future, The Queen said.

In the message – broadcast to nations throughout the Commonwealth –The Queen said we face significant challenges.

"Some people live in conditions of conflict or insecurity. Others have suffered the impact of natural disasters, such as flooding or hurricanes, which can cause great damage to their communities and countries.

Quite how destructive this can be become apparent with the devastating Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, and the hurricane in the Caribbean last September.

Overcoming these global challenges, whether as individuals or nations, depends on human ingenuity and commitment. It involves young people in particular having the chance to develop their talents and their abilities – without being held back by inequality.

In my lifetime, I have often seen that when people are encouraged to develop their skills of writing and reasoning, they are well paced to contribute their ideas and energies towards building a better future.

The key to unlocking human potential, and creating opportunity, is education.

Education is sometimes described as the golden thread that binds the Commonwealth. Our shared use of a common, world language – English – has underpinned a long and rich tradition of education co-operation.

With our shared practices and similar systems, an extensive network of scholarships, and many examples of excellence, have been achieved.

That work continues as the Commonwealth responds to today’s new challenges. In our association, where around 75 million children lack access to basic education, one clear objective is the UN Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education by 2015.

Another is the mitigating effects of HIV and Aids, two-thirds of whose sufferers around the world are Commonwealth citizens, and which is some member countries each year causes the death of more teachers than can be met by newly qualified replacements."

Until next time,
David Flint


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