Last Monday was a public holiday in Victoria: Labour Day. The holiday commemorates the granting of the eight-hour working day for Victorians and is the equivalent to 1st May elsewhere. It also recognises workers’ contributions towards the nation’s economy. But this 10th March 2014 also happened to be Commonwealth Day, celebrated in the 53 member countries of the Commonwealth. Both events are traditionally celebrated every year on the second Monday of the month of March.
Reading Melbourne's leading newspaper The Age (no longer a broad sheet paper since the change to the tabloid format) gave no hint of the local and international importance of this day. This newspaper ignored the workers as well as it ignored the Commonwealth and the Queen.
The print edition on Tuesday contained nothing on Labour Day celebrations or the Commonwealth Day commemorations, but there was "Moomba birthday brings sparkle". The Moomba festival was first organised in 1955 in honour of Queen Elizabeth, Queen of Australia, and Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh who visited Melbourne the year before. In 1954, Queen Elizabeth II visited the city in her first appearance as reigning monarch and the City Development Association and the Melbourne City Council proposed an autumn carnival to be known as "Moomba". A committee was formed in July, 1954 to organise and fund the event, successfully allocating £10,000 to its inaugural running. As a reminiscence to the royal couple every year a new Moomba King and Queen are crowned, this year it was TV veteran Bert Newton and Lucy Durack.
Her Majesty The Queen and Their Royal Highnesses The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Earl and The Countess of Wessex marked Commonwealth Day in Westminster Abbey.
The Observance launched the 2014 Commonwealth theme ‘Team Commonwealth’.
International campaigner, Malala Yousafzai gave a powerful address to assembled guests, reminding them that “in many parts of the world – including within the Commonwealth – access to education is denied to children and girls are the most affected…We need to…invest more on education to build up a bright future and protect children suffering from terrorism, child labour, child trafficking and gender abuse such as female genital mutilation…
“The future success of the Commonwealth – like the future success of any team – depends on the next generation. Today’s children will be tomorrow’s leaders – tomorrow’s politicians, tomorrow’s businesspeople, tomorrow’s doctors and tomorrow’s teachers…"
In her Commonwealth Day Message, HM The Queen said:
In July this year, the opening of the 20th Commonwealth Games will be marked by the arrival in Glasgow of the baton that started its journey from Buckingham Palace five months ago.
Many of us are following closely the news of the baton relay as it passes through the 70 countries and territories whose teams will gather for the Games. The images bring vividly to life what we mean by the Commonwealth family: it is wonderful to see the warmth, shared endeavour and goodwill as the baton is passed through the hands of many thousands of people.
Affinities of history and inheritance from the past are strong, yet we are bound together by a sense that the Commonwealth is a powerful influence of good for the future. People of all ages from different cultures are weaving an ever-growing network of links which connect us in our diversity and our common purpose. It is this unity that is expressed in this year's theme: 'Team Commonwealth'.
While national teams will be concentrating on the competition in August, Team Commonwealth will have a longer focus, working together to achieve a more enduring success.
Experiences of life differ widely throughout the Commonwealth, and we each make contributions from sometimes very different viewpoints. But we are committed to the same goals. Together we offer each other encouragement and draw strength from this mutual support.
The understanding that we belong together, and are able, through teamwork, to achieve far more than we could do alone, has always been at the heart of our approach. For all of us this is now captured in the Commonwealth Charter which sets out the values and principles which guide and motivate us.
This year, more children and young people are participating in Commonwealth Day celebrations. Advances in technology enable us to reach a greater number of young people in schools, on-line using the 'Commonwealth Class' initiative, and through events in local communities where the Commonwealth flag is being raised.
I am delighted that in this, the year of 'Team Commonwealth', we will be working to build a brighter, united future in which every one of us can play a part and share in its rewards.
Commonwealth Day Message from HM Queen Elizabeth II .