Letter to Members December 2021

Letter to Members December 2021

 

rare, signed portrait photograph of Queen Elizabeth II, signed and dated 1957 - to be auctioned (see below)

We had intended to go back to our abbreviated format with headings directing readers to particular sections on our website but time has beaten us. Next year we will be printing our magazine-style newsletter and will return to our normal online and more professional format.

In the meanwhile, we trust that this letter will be well received. 

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
 
It is with a sad and heavy heart that I must advise you that there has been no response whatsoever from the Prime Minister’s office in regard to the letter signed by over 1000 of our Australian members and supporters calling on Mr Morrison to properly celebrate the unprecedented event of the Queen’s 70 years on the throne.  
 
The Official Canadian Portrait of the Queen. No new portrait planned by Australia
One would think that we were asking the government to pay tribute to some foreign head of state instead of our own Queen who has been our sovereign head of state for more than half of our existence as a federated nation.
 
A member had recently telephoned the Prime Minister’s office and was advised that “the letter has been received and actioned and a response will be given once it travels through the correct channels”.  From this response it would appear that the concerns expressed by over 1000 people have little relevance. No wonder the polls are showing that people in general have turned away from the government. 
 
I would mention that former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd always responded personally and seriously to other communications and never dismissed our concerns out of hand, as apparently appears to be the case in this instance.
 

Furthermore, our communications with the new team at Australia Post have met with a similar non-response.  A vast difference from our earlier association where we were con
sidered to be a stakeholder in any royal issue.  Alongside is a picture and plaque presented to the Australian Monarchist League by Australia Post commemorating the Royal stamp issue of 12 April 2011. In early 2022 we will be asking our members and supporters to contact Australia Post and impress upon them the need to properly honour our sovereign head of state and that if they are republicans, they should not be betray their position by attempting to bring about a republic by stealth in Australia Post. 

However, we continue to work to do what we can ourselves. Our plans include a number of activities, including concerts, an educational book and other activities, all to pay tribute to Her Majesty.
 
We are also planning our National Conference for Saturday 11 February now as a Platinum Jubilee event. However, the date is to be confirmed as are other arrangements.
 
The Prince of Wales & Climate Change
 
The results of the survey that we organised amongst our members have shown that around 40% felt that the Prince of Wales had a right to speak out meaning that 60% disagreed with around 20% strongly disagreeing. A number of those agreeing felt that the matter of climate change was not a political matter.
 
63% of respondents were over 60.
 
As members would be aware, I have been critical of the Prince of Wales involving himself in a matter that has caused controversy.  We all know how passionate he and his father have been about protecting the environment but, having taken on so many of The Queen’s duties, he should now act as the Queen does and abide by the conventions which were set down by Walter Bagehot in The English Constitution  (1867) "The Sovereign has, under a constitutional monarchy such as ours, three rights - the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn." However convention dictates that such rights are only shared in private with a prime minister or government minister.
 
The late Duke of Edinburgh also felt that he was free to speak and, although he would never have been King, he was the husband of the Queen and, as such, often caused embarrassment and sometimes outrage, particularly in his critical comments of governments on matters he was passionate about, such as the environment.  In 1973, following a visit to Australia, he wrote to the then Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, and although he made it clear that he was writing in a private capacity, he also overstepped the boundaries.  In his letter, which is a public document, he touched on the control of exports of wild animals, the protection and control of wild species, the problems involved in special reserves and other matters regarding conservation. He said that, in his opinion, the adoption of a national system across Australia was urgent and extremely important.

 

The Duke with Gough Whitlam
With regard to the Myall Lakes, he said that he hoped that the Bunning Enquiry would come out against further mining within the boundaries and concerning Lake Pedder he went so far to say that "the Tasmanian government simply does not understand the point of conservation..."
 
On the other hand, and in the Prince of Wales’s defence, he is speaking, in the main, on an issue which has the support of the governments of the realms, including Australia. 
 
The Matter of Barbados
 
The establishment of a republic in Barbados has no similarity whatsoever to any move towards a republic in Australia whatever republicans, politicians and the media may say.  The Barbadian republic was brought about solely by their politicians whereas any change to the Australian Constitution must be by referendum.  As we know, in Australia itself, both politicians and the High Court have already changed the emphasis of a number of constitutional clauses through Acts of Parliament and judgments respectively.  
 
I was interviewed on a number of occasions on the matter. Below is a question & answer interview I had with the Daily Express.

INTERVIEW WITH THE DAILY EXPRESS
 
Q: Do you believe public mood in Australia will move in a republican direction following the decision taken in Barbados?
 
A:The situation in Barbados is totally different from Australia.  In the first instance, in Barbados, the decision to change their constitution was made not by the Barbadian people but by the Parliament.  This is even though the Parliament of Barbados actually passed a referendum act to hold a referendum for a republic. At the time of this bill being passed into law in 2005 the deputy prime minister of Barbados at the time, Mia Mottley, said “We feel that it is the right thing to do to have a Barbadian head of state. We accept that there was a concern that the Government alone should not make that decision in this day and age, and we are therefore committed to expressing our views to the public and having them pass judgment on it."  
 
Q: Just how possible is it that Australia could become a republic in the near future?
 
A: Moves towards a republic in Australia are only kept alive because it is official policy of the Australian Labor Party, otherwise there would be no interest whatsoever amongst people in general.  
 
In Australia our Constitution provides that a referendum must be held and that that referendum must receive both a nationwide majority plus a majority in a majority of the six Australian States to pass.  The Australian Parliament is fettered in making any change whatsoever to the Constitution. What has just happened in Barbados could never occur in Australia.
 
Even though it is Labor Party policy, it was estimated that one third of Labor Party voters voted against a republic in 1999.  The issue crossed political party borders.
 
Q: What should monarchists learn from your 1999 campaign if they hope to be more successful next time around?
 
A: Actually, the monarchist side was very successful in 1999 winning over 50% of the nationwide vote, with most states voting well over 50% against a republic.  If looked at on a general election basis, around 72% of electorates voted no.
 
However, there have been many changes in the intervening 22 years and the next campaign, if there is one, will be totally different from the more genteel and amateurish campaign of 1999.  The Australian Monarchist League is the largest and most active monarchist organisation in the country and is growing all the time.  Many of our members and supporters, and consequently office bearers, are under 40 with a number being in their teens and 20s.  Even though, unlike the Australian Republican Movement, we are a totally voluntary organisation, we are ready and prepared to mobilise to fight the next campaign.
Q: Is Canberra ready to hold another referendum?
 
A: Putting a referendum bill through the Federal Parliament would take a number of years.  If a Labor/Republican government is elected, they would probably opt for a referendum on an indigenous voice to the Parliament first, so it is unlikely that there would be a republic referendum in the first term of a Labor government.
 
Q: When William and Kate took George Down Under much was made about how the young Prince had been a “republican slayer” but has this support for the Crown waned since?
 
A: Support for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their family is still extremely strong, even though there have been no official visits by members of the Royal Family during the Covid pandemic.  The antics of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have not made any negative impression, but the pro-climate-action comments of the Prince of Wales have.  However, in the end of the Australian people will evaluate our existing constitutional system against whatever sort of republic is on offer and make their decision at that time.
 
Q: How do you think Australians would vote in a hypothetical referendum?
 
A: If there is a plebiscite, which, in Australia, is a non-binding opinion poll, there would probably be more casual support for a republic.  However, once the detail of change to the Constitution, which at its simplest would take around 70 amendments, I believe that people would resile and vote no.  This is why some politicians are looking at a way of avoiding putting any sort of detail to the people.  The Australian Monarchist League would challenge this and would even be prepared to go to the High Court.
 
Q: What do you think could threaten to weaken monarchism in Australia in the future? 
 
Once the Queen passes, it will mean the end of an era.  A lot will depend on whether the new King will abide by existing conventions and in particular those set down by Bagehot which are “The Sovereign has, under a Constitutional Monarchy such as ours, three rights: the right to be consulted, the right to encourage and the right to warn.”.  If the passion of the new King for climate action overrides this, then the monarchy could be weakened.  It is not within our mandate to debate climate change, but it is obviously a matter which divides opinion, and the monarch should be above any issue which invites controversy.
 
END
 
Coping With The Burden of Yet Another Republican Campaign
 
Despite the lack of support received from the government to support Australia’s sovereign head of state there is not likely to be a move towards a republic under a Coalition government whereas constitutional change  is part and parcel of Labor Party policy.  However, we would be failing in our duty were we not to plan and prepare for a Labor/Republican government. 
 
However, I must advise that, as with so many others the Australian Monarchist League has suffered a tremendous drop in income over the past 2 years whilst still having to maintain our office equipment lease payments as well as website and other costly expenditure such as our public liability and other insurances.  Even the recent bill for the supply of envelopes for our newsletter amounted to $1,500. Many members do not appreciate that we are a fully functioning organisation servicing thousands of email signups and keeping a close watch on constitutional and political developments that affect our system of constitutional monarchy.
 
We have also put a lot of money into establishing the independent educational entity, the Australian Nationhood Foundation.  Regrettably the government has rejected the Foundation’s request for assistance in employing a manager to manage its online educational services.

Accordingly, and particularly with the increasing prospect of a Labor/Republican government, we are bringing to bear some of the best talent available and are already in discussion with notable campaign strategists who will be needed to prepare to fight the next push towards constitutional change.
 
Indeed, the talk is already happening, and a number of our spokespersons are busy answering the questions of enquiring journalists.
 
However, we cannot continue without funding.  Even though we have closed our library and research centre and downsized our office, we have had to dip into our reserves to make ends meet but we obviously cannot continue to do this.
 
The republican movement is already gaining in momentum and appear to be very well funded by their supporters, whereas we, ourselves, can count the number of people who donate more than $1000 on one hand and even that will probably be affected by the disappointment and concern of some at the seemingly political comments of the Prince of Wales in support of climate action.  
 
We are therefore arranging an auction of more items from our royal memorabilia collection to raise much needed funds.  Further information on this can be found below.
 
Finally:
 
As we celebrated Christmas in 2019 and later toasted in the New Year, none of us had any expectation that we would be facing 2 years of lockdowns and, potentially unconstitutional, border closures.  It was Dominic Perrottet who took the risk of reopening to give NSW and Victoria, which followed suit, hope for a brighter future for 2022.  However, I expect the spectre of the health officials empowered by the Health Acts will be hovering around for many years to come.
 
This Christmas it is time to put aside worries and the concerns caused by the pandemic and celebrate the Christmas season and the New Year.  We will be emailing details of The Queen’s Christmas message, which always gives hope to millions of people around the world.  We hope and pray that Her Majesty will enjoy a peaceful and happy Christmas, her first without her beloved husband. 
 
I also send my personal greetings for a most enjoyable and happy Christmas to you all.
 
With every good wish
Yours sincerely
 
Philip Benwell
National Chair
Australian Monarchist League
 
 
Royal Artefacts Auction
 
As Christmas fast approaches, the AML is pleased to offer three royal artefacts at Auction exclusively amongst its members, giving them the opportunity to acquire pieces of royal history with direct provenance to the Queen of Australia whilst simultaneously supporting the vital work the League does in supporting the Crown. 
 
Appropriately for the festive season, the first two items were given by Queen Elizabeth II as Christmas gifts to a member of the royal household.
1. A fine pair of royal presentation wine goblets engraved "EIIR" surmounted by St Edward's Crown. As with all gifts made exclusively for Her Majesty the Queen the quality is excellent, and the pair is in original unused condition, retaining the presentation card and contained in their satin lined box. The pair was presented by Her Majesty to a member of her household in Scotland for Christmas in 2019.
2. A royal presentation alarm clock in silver plate and blue enamel, the dial inscribed "Christmas 2015" and the lid decorated with concentric bands of blue enamel with The Queen's cypher engraved in the centre. This beautiful and practical Royal gift is offered with the original presentation card from Her Majesty and within its original presentation box and soft cloth bag. In excellent, working condition; missing the small battery cover to the reverse.
 

3. A rare, signed portrait photograph of Queen Elizabeth II, signed and dated 1957. This black and white photograph was originally in the collection of the noted portrait painter Leonard Boden, a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, whose distinguished sitters included Pope Pius XII, Margaret Thatcher, Prince Philip, The Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II, whom he painted on ten occasions. This photograph was taken by Boden for reference use when painting Her Majesty in 1957 and depicts her wearing the robes and insignia of the Order of the Bath and evening dress, with Queen Mary's Cambridge Lovers Knot Tiara (made famous by Diana, Princess of Wales) adorning her hair. The photograph (13.5cm x 20cm) is framed in a modern ebonized frame (27.5cm x 35cm). In very good condition, fountain pen ink slightly browned with age, and a very small visible error to the photographic print in the background (measuring 1mm x 3mm). A handsome image of the young Queen. 
 
How to Bid

Please submit your bid to: [email protected] by 17 December 2021.  We will get back to the 3 highest bidders who will have an opportunity of increasing their bid and the highest bidder for each of the 3 items will then be notified.
 
  

 

A letter written to a politician we never thought would bend with the wind.
There has been no response.

24 November 2021

Private

Senator the Hon Matthew Canavan
Deputy Leader of the Nationals in the Senate
Ground Floor
34 East Street
Rockhampton, QLD, 4700

Dear Senator

It came as a great disappointment to many of your supporters to read the recent interview you had with Peter FitzSimons and particularly your comment that you are moving towards supporting a republic.

Fitz: “Last thing. Personally, I believe one of your five children should have the capacity to be our head of state instead of coming for perpetuity from a family of English aristocrats. Do you? Somebody's opinion your opinion counts on matters I'm not defending Charles seeing you value the system.”

MC: “After the royals speaking out at Glasgow, I am coming to that view!”

As you are probably aware I have been vocal in regard to the Prince of Wales involving himself in the matter of climate action which has become a matter of controversy. However, I am doing that as a supporter of our constitutional system, the very system which protects our freedoms and democracy against the excesses of parliament. I suppose you may point out that the Crown did not prevent the lockdowns and border closures, but these were done as a result of Acts of the State parliaments and thereby constitutionally valid.

Just because you may disagree with the comments of the Prince of Wales and probably Prince William also, should not mean chucking out our entire constitutional system and opting for a republic and potentially putting the nation in the hands of people like Malcolm Turnbull, Andrew Forrest or Bill Shorten, all rabid climate activists. Even when King, Prince Charles will have no power to implement any sort of climate action. That power exists in the hands of the parliament of which you are a member. Ridding Australia of the monarchy because of the comments of a couple of royals is akin to ridding the country of the present government which is actually implementing, not just talking about, climate action targets.

We had hoped that, in the event of a Labor government next year and an impending republic campaign, that you would have been a force in support of our constitutional system. Your comments indicating that you are moving towards support of a republic is therefore terribly disappointing for us as it would be for all monarchists around the country.

Yours sincerely


Philip Benwell
National Chair


You can email Senator Canavan yourself at: 
[email protected]


 

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO COPY THIS NEWSLETTER TO ANYONE YOU THINK WOULD BE INTERESTED.

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  • Philip Benwell
    published this page in Newsletters 2021-12-14 08:18:23 +1100