The anniversary on 9 May of the opening of the first Federal Parliament by the future King George V is forever linked with the superb painting by Tom Roberts.
It is also linked with one of the silliest stunts engineered by the republicans, made even more extraordinary by the participation of a State Premier. This was staged for the Queen’s Birthday weekend in 2001.
(They also do them for Australia Day and sometimes even for ANZAC Day.)
Obviously a lot of effort goes into these – a pity they haven't put the same effort into developing just one workable republican model.
They are like the myths the republicans concoct . The latest – proclaimed by the ARM leader – is that every opinion poll over the last 30 years shows that the nation's young are the most republican.
The stunt that year was that the Queen “return” the Tom Robert’s painting on permanent loan in Parliament House Canberra.
What was truly remarkable was that someone persuaded the Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks to join in and rush off a letter to The Queen demanding she “return” the painting.
…Premier Steve Brack supports stunt…
The Australian Financial Review published a letter about this on 26 June 2001.
This was with a cartoon showing two royal corgis using their litter tray the floor of which is covered with shredded paper. On a torn piece you can just make out the words “Steve Bracks”.
The caption – “Steve Brack’s letter to the Queen”.
The letter in full stated:-
Victorian Premier Bracks letter to the Queen to hand over Tom Robert’s Federation painting is as misguided (and as embarrassing) as demanding she return our Crown land.
The painting is not her personal property.
It’s owned by the Australian Crown in trust for the Australian people.
That’s why it is hanging – permanently – in Parliament House for all to see.
And if anyone still doesn’t understand that the Australian Crown is separate and independent from the British Crown, remember that a Senator lost her seat because she didn’t appreciate this. The lesson is – be careful of being dragged into the inevitable Queen’s Birthday stunts.
Emeritus Professor David Flint''