The coming Royal Visit led to a nostalgic look on Facebook at a great event during first 1954 Royal tour, the Bondi Beach Surf Carnival. There were enormous crowds 40,000 at the beach and 60,000 at vantage points. (We'll post something on that very soon.)
But republican Bevan just had to post a note about this on ACM’s Facebook page. He claimed to be sorry for those who couldn't get into the surf that day until the Queen and the Duke left.
Well, our republican Bevan must have never been near a surf carnival.
Bevan, in Australia, we usually close the beach during a surf carnival. The beach stays closed even if the VIP’s leave.
Bevvie, get over it.
The people said No in 1999. Bevvie, try and get out a bit. Trying to design a republican model must be getting you down. Go to a surf carnival and enjoy yourself.
Actually, Bondi featured twice in the push by republicans to change the flag and the constitution. But for me Bondi and the referendum are intertwined.
…Bondi and 1999…
I often think of Bondi when I think of the 1999 referendum. First, one of our leading young monarchists handing out Vote No leaflets was attacked and spat on by republican campaigners at the polling booth at the beach.
Later Malcolm Turnbull, now the local member, conceded defeat somewhat prematurely on the evening of 6 November 1999. ACM, waiting at the Convention centre because the Sydney Council banned us from the Town Hall, wanted him to wait until the West Australian results came in.
As Kerry Jones explained, this would have been a courtesy to the people of that state, and acknowledgemnt that Australia is not just the inner elite parts of Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne .
But Malcolm insisted. In the course of his speech he said that if Prime Minister John Howard was remembered for anything, it would be as the man who broke the heart of the nation.
Looking across Bondi Beach on the following day, a Sunday, all I could see was a nation at play, happy in itself and comfortable in our Commonwealth.
The only tears shed the night before came from a handful of celebrities at the ARM victory parties, and perhaps from Mr. Turnbull.
You see, Malcolm's successor, Greg ,let the cat out of the bag when he later revealed that the other millionaire celebrities were tight fisted. Malcolm was overwhelmingly the principal benefactor of the republican movement.
…Mate for a Head of State…
Remember the disastrous “Mate for a head of state” stunt in 2005-2006? Bondi featured there too. The high point was to be a series of “sausage sizzles” on the Sunday before Australia Day, 22 January 2006.
And what publicity they had had in the media! It must have been worth millions.
They had Peter FitzSimons and other media celebrities on side with a substantial media promotion. Some reports were balanced, for example, 2GB’s Jim Ball and Channel 7’s David Koch, both of whom ran stories where the other side is allowed to speak.
So you would think with all that, in a city of over 4 million people and a state of about 7 million people, a few interested members of the public would have turned up for the main feature of the day, the widely advertised “Beachside Brunch & Sausage Sizzle” between 10:30am-12:30pm in the Biddigal Reserve, a pleasant grassy rise just a hop step and jump to North Bondi Beach?
The republican movement’s big guns duly arrived for their sizzle, commandeering the only public barbecues at the end of the beach. We wondered whether Waverley Council, still mired in the controversies over its ban on our Australian flag flying over the Bondi Pavilion, and charging lifesavers to park their cars, actually consented to moving out ordinary Australians for the purposes of this political campaign?
So who turned up? An observer told us forty six, and a journalist from The Australian who interviewed me said “about fifty.”
But that included the republican big guns and the media!
A protest went to The Australian. There were over 300. Sausages, that is. Were they republican sausages?
…no Australian Flag may fly over Bondi, declare republicans…..
In 2006 Waverley Council, who were then trying to turn the municipality into the Peoples’ Republic of Bondi –Waverley, declared that the Australian plan could not be flown over the Bondi Beach pavilion because it might lead to racial tension. After a campaign to restore the flag, the Premier ordered the commissars to come to their senses and fly the Australian Flag over the pavilion.
Malcolm Turnbull is the local member. He has sensibly changed his mind on the flag – but not yet “the” republic. (We can't use the word "the. First, there is no single model for a republic and second, after more than 11 years the Republicans still can't agree on what sort of republic they want. Anyway many authorities say we are already a crowned republic.)
Malcolm offered the an Australian flag – not one of those beach towels which the republican flag changers love to promote as the substitute when they get their way and shred our beloved flag.