Saturday 26 April 2008

Why wasn't the Queen invited to Villers-Bretonneux?

What a difference one person can make. Almost exactly to the day a year ago the Canadians commemorated their war dead at Vimy. On 9th April 2007 a monument was re-dedicated to remember the bitter Battle of Vimy Ridge in which more than 3,500 Canadian soldiers died. To quote a report: Although it was the first day of the official part of the presidential campaign in France, the main TV news broadcast from France 2 in Paris, rebroadcast by SBS in Australia on Tuesday morning, 10 April 2007, began with film of what the presenter called a rare event: Queen Elizabeth II was on the soil of France.

He went on to describe her appearance was “en tant que souveraine du Canada”. Her Majesty was in France, as Queen of Canada, to preside over the ceremonies to rededicate the great Canadian Memorial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, fought ninety years ago. The refurbished memorial was originally dedicated by King Edward VIII, as King of Canada, and it stands on what will forever be Canadian land, a mark of the gratitude France bears for Canada for that great victory.

In the presence of over 15,000 Canadians, The Queen, in English and in French, paid tribute to the Canadians who took the ridge, a German stronghold which she said had become a "symbol of futility and despair". "It was a stunning victory," she said. "In capturing this formidable objective, the Canadian Corps transformed Vimy Ridge from a symbol of despair into a source of inspiration. After two-and-a half years of deadly stalemate, it now seemed possible that the Allies would prevail and peace might one day be restored".

Nothing of this kind took place, when on ANZAC Day 2008 the Australians commemorated their war dead. The Age: It was the first Anzac Day dawn service in the Somme, an official ceremony that many hope will carry on in tandem with the Gallipoli tradition — and remind Australians of the 46,000 compatriots who fought and died on the Western Front. …
At dawn yesterday, … 3000 Australian men and women joined their French brothers and sisters on a Somme hilltop to keep the promise made by a long-dead mayor. …
Alan Griffin, Kevin Rudd's … Veterans' Affairs Minister, made clear to the crowd the need for a national realignment of understanding: "It must be said that our strong connection with the Anzacs at Gallipoli has, over the years, overshadowed our commemoration of the Australians who gave so much on the Western Front."

Unlike last year there was no Queen. Obviously the Queen of Australia was not invited to address the people who had gathered in Villers-Bretonneux. There was no Prime Minister, neither an Australian, nor French, and there was hardly any media coverage, except by the Australian media. The French evening news of France 2 that had so prominently reported on the Queen of Canada’s speech, did not even mention that there was an Australian commemoration gathering.

The BBC last year reported: The Queen has paid tribute to thousands of Canadian troops who lost their lives in World War I as she unveiled a restored monument in France. The memorial remembers the bitter Battle of Vimy Ridge in which more than 3,500 Canadian soldiers died. She was joined at the memorial, near Lille, by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his French counterpart, Dominique de Villepin. The ceremony featured prayers, the Last Post and a minute's silence. And this year? The BBC followed their French colleagues’ example and ignored the Australians.

What a difference a person makes. Had the Australian government invited the Queen of Australia to lead the commemoration, it would have received the attention that the war dead deserved. After all: many, if not most of them, died for King and Country. Even if the Australian republicans deny this fact, it remains deep in the heart of the First World War.

Wednesday 23 April 2008

The Australia of the 21st century is a Monarchy
"The Australia of the 21st century will be a republic," Prime Minister Rudd told the ABC's 7.30 Report on Monday, 21st April on Her Majesty's 82nd Birthday. Mr Rudd told Kerry O'Brian he would proceed slowly.

92 Years of the 21st century are left, that gives the Prime Minister plenty of time to consider his options. But his threat will hang over us for these 92 years, since he may have the hope that by the turn of the century one of his granddaughters might be the first president of "an" [undefined] Australian republic. Meanwhile republicans will think on the best possible way to achieve their dream. How many referenda will it take?

Australia will be a republic within two years if delegates to the 2020 summit in Canberra have their way.

But what, if they fail again in 2010? Will they launch another offensive in 2013? Have a referendum with every federal election until one day one referendum might get the result they want? Or will they wait for the death of Her Majesty, as the old republican activist Malcolm Turnbull advised them?

What about the idea to make the Monarchy in Australia more approachable, more relevant and more visible to the people? It is not Her Majesty's fault that neither she nor another member of our Royal Family don't spend more time on the 5th continent. The Queen acts on Her - Australian federal and state - ministers' advice.

In between the referenda the republicans could think about the flag they might like to give the Australian republic. Here is a suggestion, which would be a suitable symbolism of the republic's outlook.

After all, isn't the purpose of the change "to get rid of the old colonial ties" and replace the Union Jack with something more appropriate? Critics may argue that Queensland might be overrepresented in the new republic's flag, but we should honour the efforts especially one Queenslander puts into the "republic question".

Tuesday 22 April 2008

Please keep off the "Astroturf"

Grassroots community groups help ordinary citizens, pressure governments and frame debates.

Where would we be if groups such as the National Trust or anti-pollution groups had not fought vested interests in the 1960s and 1970s to protect our historic buildings or environment.

But a new game is afoot ... so-called "astroturfing".

Astroturf is an artificial grass and astroturf groups are artificial "grassroots" groups set up to push an business or political group's agenda while pretending to be independent or community group.

Such astroturf groups are everywhere these days. You see them quoted in the newspapers and they attend conferences such as Mr Rudd's 2020 Summit pretending to be the voice of the people, but actually pushing their backer's agenda.

Such groups as Get Up! ... A group that is officially unaligned but which had 118 delegates out of the 1000 summiteers at that 2020 Summit. Piers Akerman: "Incredibly, 118 of the chosen delegates are GetUp! members, including our Executive Director Brett Solomon." He gained fame for his extraordinary performance at the Summit: “Is anyone actually going to argue that we shouldn't be a republic?” summiteer Brett Solomon of grassroots political movement GetUp asked the 100 delegates in the summit's governance session. One lonely figure shot up a defiant hand, prompting laughter around the room. A remarkable way to deal with a differing opinion, which speaks volumes for his respect for people having a dissenting point of view.

It may be unaligned (which i doubt), but it is stridently pro Kevin and anti-monarchy. It has all the signs of being an ALP astroturf group!

Beware of "grassroots" groups that seem to be little more than fronts for political or business interests and pretending to represent the community.

The whole 2020 Summit seems to have been the ultimate astroturfing exercise ... a group supposedly representing the people of Australia but in fact hand crafted to ensure a predictable outcome.

All they could demonstrate was that their ability to organise a vote was more advanced than that of the Monarchists. They achieved a one hundred precent vote in favour of "a" republic at the Summit, which is ridiculous when opinion polls show that their support base in the population is just 45 percent.

However, their performance was a wakeup call for the Monarchists. The loyal supporters could certainly learn from the grassroot skills of the republicans of this country who like so much signing their posts with "Viva la révolution!". In doing so they not only mix Spanish and French in one senctence, but also show how little they know about the Australians.

Sunday 20 April 2008

Rudd's Brave New World for Australia

That is what they always wanted: an unanimous vote for “a” republic. Australian republicans have never admitted their defeat in the 1999 referendum, when 55 percent of the Australian people said NO to their republican model.

Instead they accused John Howard of having “rigged” the referendum. But nobody knows better what "rigging" means than republicans. With republican politicians now in power in Canberra as well as in the other capital cities, they can show their true colours. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd wanted “Australia’s best and brightest” at the 2020 Summit this weekend. It is obvious, that the organisers considered only republicans as good and bright enough to get an invitation. No-one of the victorious No camp was considered worthy to be among the 1000 participants. Oh, wrong, ONE woman was a Monarchist. The republic motion was passed by 99.9 percent. What a travestie to a real debate.

“Is anyone actually going to argue that we shouldn't be a republic?” summiteer Brett Solomon of grassroots political movement GetUp asked the 100 delegates in the summit's governance session.
One lonely figure shot up a defiant hand, prompting laughter around the room.

What else can you expect from a handpicked audience to which Monarchists weren’t invited. Likeminded masses cannot accept dissent. This is the true face of the republic. Hysteria and a totalitarian approach to people who hold a different opinion. They are ridiculed away, they have to disappear from the scene, they don’t exist anymore.

It is good to know that at present not a hysterical audience at a summit of unelected non-delegates decide on Australia’s future, but the Australian people have to approve changes to our Constitution. And – so far – we don’t know, which model should replace our Australian Monarchy. Monarchists cannot be excluded from campaigning for the Monarchy. It s clearer then ever: Freedom wears a Crown.

Monday 14 April 2008

New Governor-General a declared Monarchist
I know it sounds a bit odd, but the present Governor of Queensland, Quentin Bryce, whom the Queen will soon appoint as Her Governor-General in Australia, has described herself as a Monarchist. "I have a great admiration for the monarch and I do value and respect our democratic system of government," she said according to The Age.

In these days, when the buzzing republicans jump from one corner of their media offices to the next to deliver their recycled articles, such a sentence seems to come from outer space. Should not everybody who represents the Queen of Australia and swears the Oath of Allegiance to Her, be a loyal servant of the Crown? Appointments of state governors in recent years seemed to go the other way with the annointed candidate making very doubtful allegations about their loyalty.

With republicans now heading the federal as well as state governments it was the media’s hope that the new governor-general would be one from the republican mould, one who would give the coup de grace to the institution that is so dear to the Australian people that they voted in 1999 to retain the Monarchy.

Republicans may not like to be reminded of this fact, but nearly 55 pc said No to the proposed republican model. And since this is Australia and not the Republic of Zimbabwe nor the People's Republic of Bielarus, nor the People's Republic of China, claiming the referendum was rigged, is offensive. A question was put on the ballot papers, which explicitly highlighted the proposed changes: To alter the Constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic with the Queen and Governor-General being replaced by a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament.
How can anybody claim the question was too difficult?

What will the republicans do when the next referendum fails to deliver their republic - have a regular vote every five years? Recent opinion polls may please republicans, but they also indicate that it will be an uphill battle to destroy the Crown of Australia. The republicans may have the full support of the media, what they haven't won is the referendum.

Saturday 12 April 2008

Her Majesty, World Citizen

One of the republicans' main objections to the Monarchy is their claim that we don't have an “Australian head of state”. Constitutional Monarchists say that we do indeed have an “Australian head of state” – the Governor General - and that the Queen is the Australian sovereign. This definition is, of course, rejected by republicans for it would discredit their effort to abolish the Monarchy.

I on the other hand, want to point out that the Queen is not a foreigner, but an Australian. She is also Canadian, Barbadian, Jamaican, Scottish, Irish, English and even French, when one considers her status as Duke of Normandy (for the Channel Islands).

She may not have an Australian passport – in fact, I doubt that she has a passport at all, not even a British one - but she has served this country since ascending to the throne. She is as free a person, as we once were and will never be again.

The Queen embodies the time, when everybody could travel without a passport. Before World War I travellers on the Orient Express could board a train in Istanbul and get off the train in Calais to board a ship to Britain without visa and passports. A passport was a request to assist and protect the bearer of the passport. Today travel documents are become high tech instruments, but not to make travelling easier or more convenient, but to control the passport holder and restrict our free movement. The currently standardized biometrics used for the new type of passports with electronic identification systems are facial recognition, fingerprint recognition, and iris recognition. A biometric identifier held on an electronic chip gives those who can read the data total access to the stored information. Those who issue these new passports give the illusion they could prevent terrorist attacks. In fact they give total control of all our movements. Passport holders are constantly watched and monitored but for what real purpose?

Does this give the Queen a privilege she should not have? On the contrary: Her Majesty not being a passport holder is a reminder to politicians – and in fact to all of us – that we should resist electronic documents of all sorts. We should aim to get the same freedom that Her Majesty still enjoys. As I said: She embodies this freedom.

Passports don’t prove anything. Having the passport of a certain country does not mean that you are a citizen who contributes in a positive way to the society that issued the passport. It just states that the passport was issued by a certain country, how you received this little booklet is of no importance. You may have received it because your parent(s) belonged to this state, you may have been naturalised, you may have been forced to accept it, because you lost your home country and fled to the new one, giving you no choice, but to accept it. However, you may have bought your way into the country that issued the passport either by bribing officials or by promising to “invest money” in your new country. And certainly there are those who use – false – passports to achieve something they would not be able to do with another passport. Does your passport show that you render a special loyalty to the state that issued the passport? Also, this piece of paper can give no proof for that.

The Queen of Australia may not have an Australian passport, but Her loyalty towards Australia has never been in doubt. The Queen represents the type of international citizen that politicians around the world resent.

The biometric passport has an updated design since its first launch and additional security features. The updated features include pages with intricate designs, complex watermarks and a chip antenna.

Wednesday 9 April 2008

Monarchists promise fight over republic

The headline of an AAP article was prominently placed on the opening site of

The news agency referred to a statement of Prof. David Flint AM, which he had sent out on 8th April:
Debate gerrymandered debate due to the gerrymander...
“The media has a vested interest in change - change equates to news and news is the life blood of the media,” declared Paul Kelly as editor-in chief of The Australian in 1993 when he was addressing a forum on constitutional change.

Having extracted some sort of commitment to some republican debate, the Australian media were beside themselves the day after the Prime Minister’s audience with The Queen.

Over a photograph of The Queen and Mr Rudd, the front page of the print version of The Australian, 8 April, 2008 carried this headline “Rudd to push debate on republic”.

The Sydney Morning Herald, again only in the print version, tucked the story with the photograph on the fourth page under this line, “Rudd raises republic as he sets off to see Queen.”

We suppose this was done discreetly in case anyone thought the Herald was returning to the monarchism of its long distant youth.

But what had the PM said?. There was some personal testimony to “lifelong republicanism” - as though it were some sort of genetic disorder.

Then he welcomed a “debate” this year. But that won’t be at the 2020 Summit - the republican gerrymander there would leave old style Queensland politicians – from both sides –green with envy. There will be no debate, just republican monologues there, except of course for the delightful sole monarchist the Hon. Helen Sham Ho.

In any event the PM said that the government “would be looking at how that debate develops.”

We have three pieces of advice to the Prime Minister.

First, please don’t refer to “the” republic as you did in London. Since the failure of the Keating-Turnbull model , the republicans still haven’t worked out what sort of republic they want. So it’s still “a” republic, that is, any sort of vague undefined republic.

Really, Prime Minister, couldn’t you get these republicans to at least say what they want?

Second, remember there is no interest in this among the rank and file. Labor voting electorates were among the strongest No voters in 1999.

Third, we promise you a fight of monumental proportions to keep our constitutional system and our flag. Don’t underestimate us, Mr Prime Minister – on this we are more in touch with the people.

Fourth, it would be an act of gross financial delinquency to spend one more cent of taxpayer’ funds on this.

No more money should be diverted from schools, hospitals and water to subsidise the republicans in this folly.

And while they are at it, the republicans might also work out some reason why the issue should be re-opened. They’ll need to do better than the editor of The (Adelaide) Advertiser who said among the reasons were that India, China and Australia were richer, and then there was the outrage of 9/11. We still do not see the connection.

Seriously, if the vote had gone the other way in 1999, does anyone think we would get another bite at the cherry.

We’d be ridiculed if we argued that.

Tuesday 8 April 2008

Brendan Nelson: Living costs more important than republic
At least someone got it right. In an ABC interview.
Federal Opposition Leader, Brendan Nelson said he is against Australia becoming a republic and does not think it should be on the political agenda. "I mean the real priorities at the moment are petrol, groceries and home loan interest rates and making sure small business can survive."

And as someone who is depending on public transport, I should add that the misery of the train service is appalling and cries for an immediate solution. The agony of Melbourne's public transport is effecting hundreds of thousands of people while the absence of an Australian republic means, a millionaire is denied buying his/her way into the job.

The recent press speculation and statements of Mr Rudd regarding the possibility of an Australian republic are merely the latest round of the ongoing debate fostered for its own reasons by factions within the Labor party (especially as a diversionary tactic) and within a group that sees itself as an intellectual “elite”.

But like Brendan Nelson I am a Royalist and a Constitutional Monarchist not out of some nostalgic love of a long gone British Empire, but for the simple fact that a Constitutional Monarch provides a stable and bipartisan head of state as well a sense of continuity that republican forms of government struggle to find.

The media seems determined to portray Monarchists as old fashioned and worse just old fuddy duddies whereas in fact the polls show consistently that the core group for republicans are 30-40 year old males whilst the Monarchy has a greater level of support amongst a wider demographic.

Monday 7 April 2008

The Queen of Australia has been on the throne for 56 years.

Kevin Rudd is a republican – Where’s the surprise?
On the day when the Australian Prime Minister was to have an audience with Queen Elizabeth, Queen of Australia, the media down under could not help themselves reprinting the bits of a BBC interview, in which Rudd answered questions concerning a (!) republic. “I am sure we will get to it in due season," he said in response to persistent questioning in a BBC interview. Asked whether he would be disappointed if he ended his term in office without Australia becoming a republic, Mr Rudd said his party had long been committed to that outcome.
"That remains unchanged," he said. "What I also said prior to the last election is that for us this is not a top-order priority." The Age

Republicanism was included in the ALP’s platform at the 1991 national conference, the chairman observing that the motion had been carried without enthusiasm. Nobody expected Labor to revise their platform after the republican’s defeat at the 1999 referendum, however, not everything that is written into a platform has to become political reality. The Swedish Social Democrats wrote the demand for the abolition of the Monarchy into their platform in the 1920s, instead, every Swedish Prime Minister ever since had good working relations with the highly respected Swedish Kings. There was neither the “popular demand” for a republic, nor the need to abolish the Crown.

The same applies to Australia. With the latest opinion polls showing only 45 p.c. of the Australians want “a” republic, the Kevin Rudd senses that another push for “a” republic in Australia is doomed to fail.

Party policy and policy for the interests of the country and the people are not necessarily the same. Therefore the non-partisan institution of the Monarchy is invaluable. Good to know, that Her Majesty’s Australian Prime Minister does not rush to give into pressure from lobbyists and partisan advocates of “a” republic.

More appalling than Kevin Rudd’s answers were the BBC’s questions, which The Age called “persistent”. Was the reporter trying to create a scoop? Everybody knows the Australian Prime Minister’s position in the republic discussion. Surely the interviewer would have read all his statements in preparing for the interview. Why this stubborn insistence on this question?