It is unfortunate that some of those intent on making fundamental changes to our Constitution feel the need to justify this, either by promising that some unlikely benefits will flow from our being a republic, or by rewriting history to explain why we should take this step. One of the myths expounded by the former Prime Minister, Paul Keating, was that the Constitution was designed in the British Foreign Office. The truth was, the Constitution was drafted in Australia, by Australians and actually approved by the Australian people.
We are indebted to Mr P.N. Amos, Chairman of our Peninsula Branch, for the following story which exposes yet another of these attempts to rewrite our history. This too was proclaimed by Mr Keating, who when he launched his push for a republic,alleged that the United Kingdom had abandoned Australia in the Second World War. As Mr Amos notes, since then there has been a dribble of `Letters to the Editor' promoting the same theme, sometimes subtly avoiding any reference to the republic. Mr Amos suggests we go back to the end of the war when Keating was about three, and see what actually happened. Australians had been sending thousands of food parcels to the UK because her citizens had been deprived during the war. The Hansard of the National Parliament records that on April 28th 1947 Ben Chifley (Prime Minister and Treasurer) moved the second reading of the "United Kingdom Grant Bill". Chifley said this was a bill to grant £A25 million to the United Kingdom "as a contribution towards the costs of war incurred in the 'Pacific Zone. The UK is labouring under great difficulties today because in the war it fought with unsparing will the battles of many other peoples as well as its own". On the economic side he pointed out the huge costs incurred included:
i) the realisation of £1.5 billion of its international investments,
ii) incurring of new external liabilities of £3.5 billion,
iii) a debt of a further £1.25 billion for the transition from war
iv) massive losses of industries, homes and 22 January,2004.
v) its export trade sacrificed.
By contrast we had suffered no loss of external wealth, "in fact, our position is more favourable today than it was before the war." Chifley went on to point out that we had been able to pay off £S60 million of our London debt. He also pointed out that American troops had injected £100 million into our economy. On 28th May, with bipartisan support, the Bill was carried on the voices. In 1947 the Budget was A169, 249,000, so that the grant was no small sum- it actually represented 14.77% of the Budget! As Mr Amos says, it is obvious from this that neither the Australian people nor the Australian government thought that we had been abandoned by the United Kingdom! Thanks to Mr Amos, yet another republican myth has been exposed.