July 1

The nation’s most biased newspaper?

When it comes to ramming a republic down its reader’s throats, is The Sydney Morning Herald the nation’s most biased newspaper?  This is the sort of balance more appropriate to Pravda (Truth) under the Bolsheviks than a newspaper with the proud history of the Herald.

I sent the following letter to the Herald on 30 June:

“Dear editor, Your report "The Queen's costs rising" (30/6) ignores the fact that The Queen handed over all of the revenues of the Crown Estate to the government. After provision for head of state costs, which comparisons indicate would be  higher in a republic, the British taxpayers  received a handsome surplus of £170.5 million (Aus $349.30 million ). The Australian Canadian and New Zealand taxpayers paid nothing. Nor for this working 83 year old will there be any superannuation or golden handshake.”

Of course it was not published. I don’t expect my letters to be published, but I think alternative views should be.

…our columnist's republican line is not to be challenged….

Now, for the second time in less than a month weeks regular columnist George Williams has pushed the republican line.

This was in a piece condemning the Hawke Labor government’s  preservation of the voting rights  of people already on the rolls as British subjects in 1983 (“Time to take away their right to vote,” 30/6)

This is something republicans get excited about, thinking they are all monarchists from the UK. Harold Scruby pushed this line in 1999, and of course he was widely reported. The suggestion was they would change the result.

This was unjustified.  There are less than 164,000 people involved, 1.2%.  The No case won by far more than that. And why should we assume they all voted one way? Further they are not all from the UK. The actually come from 48 Commonwealth and former Commonwealth countries, such as Britain, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Jamaica and Zimbabwe.

George Williams says it no longer makes sense to preserve the Australian voting rights of British subjects. Well, they were already on the roll so Labor’s respect for their existing rights was not unreasonable.

But in arguing against the continuation of the exemption (no new British subjects can claim it) Professor Williams cannot resist pushing his republican obsession. In pointing out Australia  had severed its final legal ties to Britain by enacting the Australia Acts of 1986 he adds:

“(though, it must be said, we have yet to sever our final symbolic ties to the British empire as represented by our head of state being the British monarch).”

First, he should point out that the maintenance of legal ties with Britain was our wish – the British were quite happy to terminate them if not in 1926, at the latest in 1931. The reason was the State politicians of all parties trusted the British more than the politicians of all parties in Canberra.  I can’t imagine why.

 

 Second, what are the “ final symbolic ties with the British empire” if they are not our heritage, including our language law and political system. Are they all to go, Professor Williams?

Third, the Government considers the Governor-General to be the Head of State and the High Court long ago ruled the Governor- General was the constitutional head of the Commonwealth.

Fourth, the monarch of the country is The Queen of Australia, and the High Court has ruled that the Australian Crown is separate from the British Crown.

 

The Herald allows a view – republican of course… 

Steve Cornelius of Fairlight, NSW, wrote (1/7):

” I hesitate to argue with a law professor, but how is the British monarch's right to dismiss our prime minister a mere "symbolic tie"? As long as Australians are happy to consent to that right, aren't complaints about British subjects voting in Australian elections a tad hypocritical?”

 

It is a pity his premise is completely wrong – no British monarch can dismiss our prime minister, nor can The Queen of Australia.

….and as for British subjects…

 

 The Herald did allow a contrary view on the question of the British subject voters. In a letter published under “Dinki-di and proud of it,” ( 1/7)Ron Sinclair of Bathurst, NSW, wrote:

“So George Williams thinks going through a naturalisation ceremony signals "commitment to the nation" ("Time to take away their right to vote", June 30). What a shallow commitment.

 “I am one of the outsiders he refers to. I was brought here, without choice, as a child migrant in 1953. I was a ward of the state of NSW. In my eyes that made me an Aussie.

 “I grew up as an Aussie kid. I have been here over half a century and raised three dinkum Aussie kids. I have worked all my adult life, paid my taxes, contributed to society and, I hope, continue to do so.

 “As far as I am concerned I am as Australian as George, and will fight him and his ilk in the bush, on Bondi Beach and outside the polling booths to retain my right to vote in the only country I have ever really known.”    


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