June 12, 2004
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
National Office, Sydney Australia
The Queen’s birthday holiday 2004 will be enjoyed by many thousands of Australians as a celebration of our history, our heritage and our great democracy. Australians have been celebrating this great holiday since 1788 when Governor Phillip declared a holiday on the birthday of King George III. Until 1936 the actual birth date of the reigning monarch was observed. But after the death of King George V it was decided to retain the June holiday weekend, apart from Western Australian where it is celebrated in September/October.
It is a uniquely Australian holiday as, apart from New Zealand, it is not celebrated as a holiday anywhere else in the world. To abandon this special event in Australia would be to disregard out heritage and over 200 years of tradition. Both the National Museum of Australia and Old Parliament House are putting on special functions to mark the Queen’s birthday weekend. Sir David Smith, distinguished constitutional monarchist and former Chief Secretary to five Governor-Generals, will be speaking on Sunday 13 June, 2:00pm at the National Museum and on Monday 14 June, 12:30pm in the Old Senate Chamber in Old Parliament House. Both functions are free and open to the Australian public.
Despite the 1999 ‘No’ vote to the republic in all states of Australia and the Northern Territory, leading republican politicians remain determined to desecrate the symbols of the Crown, our Australian history and heritage. NSW republican Labor Premier Bob Carr has removed the Governor from Government House, has passed legislation to remove the Crown from the NSW Coat of Arms, and has recently introduced legislation to change the NSW State Constitution to take out the Oath of Allegiance to the Queen.
We would hope that republicans will respect our great democracy and allow all Australians to celebrate this coming weekend rather than introduce republican stunts. This weekend is an appropriate time for all Australians to recognize the Crown’s significance in our Australian constitutional arrangements. As we celebrate we can take stock of our past while focusing on our future as the greatest democracy in the world.