People are saying that while their Queen listens to them, republican politicians don’t. We were moving the ACM office early Saturday 2 December 2006, with a band of wonderful volunteers of all ages, when Dr Frank McGrath, the distinguished judge, drew my attention to a report in that morning’s Daily Telegraph. Written by Eloise King, the headline said “Queen of Suburbia- If MP’s won’t act, go royal.”
Ms. King reported that feeling ignored by the State Government in their fight against a proposed 795-unit development, a resident action group in Putney in NSW, the Coalition Against Private Over-Development (CAPO), took their complaint direct to Buckingham Palace. “The opposed development would result in 8ha of the 18ha site at the Royal Rehabilitation Centre in Putney being sold to a developer. Land sale money would be used to replace the existing 64-bed hospital building, which is 100 years old, with a new $80 million facility for stroke, spinal and brain injury victims on 2ha. And 8ha would be given back to the community. CAPO Chairman Rolf Clapham said the population increase would put excessive stress on local infrastructure.”
The chairman of CAPO, Mr. Rolf Clapham, failed to receive a satisfactory response to 24 letters sent to six NSW Government ministers. So he decided to write to The Queen. He told Her Majesty that the proposed sell-off of community land was "appalling" and the centre "does not deserve to still possess the status of ‘Royal’ in its title now". What was telling was that not withstanding longer mail delivery times, The Queen took less time to respond to the Putney community than NSW Ministers of the Crown. Being a constitutional monarch, Her Majesty said that while she could not intervene personally on the use of the word "Royal", she would forward CAPO’s concerns to the Governor-General of Australia. Mr. Clapham said “I was very excited when I saw the envelope. It showed she actually listens, whereas our own government does not."
The Daily Telegraph published a table (“Down to the letter”) comparing the responses of The Queen with several ministers who had voted to remove the Oath of Allegiance to The Queen. The republican ministers included Frank Sartor who was previously Lord Mayor of Sydney. During his term, the Town Hall and nearby streets were surrounded with banners urging people to vote for the republic proposed in the 1999 referendum. We remain at a loss to understand how this expenditure of thousand sof dollars of ratepayers’ funds to campaign in a federal referendum could possibly be justified as a proper expense of the City of Sydney.
These were the results of the comparison which really shames our republican ministers:
1 LETTER SENT TO THE QUEEN:
Response received in 16 days
24 LETTERS SENT TO NSW GOVERNMENT:
Michael Costa: 1 letter, 7 weeks to reply;Frank Sartor: 5 letters, 4 weeks to receive a reply that passed the buck;Morris lemma: 3 letters, 4 weeks to receive three letters; Eric Roozendaal: 3 letters, 2 replies each took 4 weeks ;John Hatzistergos: 2 letters, 4 weeks to receive one written reply, and John Watkins: 10 letters, 7 replies, took up to 4 weeks each.
And the republican ministers want to get rid of The Queen. They receive good salaries , and generous expenses. Three former NSW republican premiers, the Hon Bob Carr, the Hon Neville Wran QC, the Hon Nick Greiner cost NSW taxpayers well over one million dollars a year in expenses, although they have lucrative business interests and generous mainly taxpayer funded superannuation. (Former premier, the Hon. Barrie Unsworth, to his great credit, costs us nothing.) The former premiers are not required to restrict this expenditure to matters unrelated to business. The NSW government pays The Queen nothing, and makes no provision for Her Majesty’s superannuation.