Letter to Members July/August 2021

Letter to Members July/August 2021

 

AML Newsletter – July/August 2021

With Sydney in lockdown and unlikely to end soon, we have been unable to proceed with a proper newsletter for July/August or to send out receipts. We are, therefore, emailing this mini-newsletter to keep in touch and to update our members and supporters on what is happening - monarchy wise.

I would mention that whilst we are headquartered in Sydney, we are not a Sydney centric or NSW organisation but a national one. Our Executive is from Brisbane, Hobart, Adelaide and Sydney and our National Council comprises people from all States.

Having said that, we do receive comments that most activities appear to be in Sydney with sometimes no activities in other States. Whilst it is true that the National Office does hold fund-raising activities in Sydney to help finance our national operations, we have faced a major problem in most States that whenever an event is organised most people are busy and only a few people actually turn up often leading to a significant loss of funds for us. Of course, we would dearly love to have more functions and events throughout the country if only they were adequately supported by our membership. However, once we are able to, we will try again to organise activities and hopefully, they will be well attended.

In Sydney, the Queen’s Birthday Dinner held on Friday 11 June was a huge success. Our chief guest, former prime minister, the Hon Tony Abbott AC, spoke exceptionally well, and a certificate of life membership of the League was presented to him by Senator the Hon Eric Abetz, our Deputy National Chairman.

Large functions are generally held in Sydney only because numbers can be guaranteed. These functions are open to members throughout Australia and a number of people flew in from other States to attend the Queen’s Birthday Dinner.

We have planned a dinner on August 27 with Senator the Hon. Matt Canavan and have opened a page to accept RSVPs only at this stage. You can access this at: Dinner with Senator Canavan  However, given the likelihood of an extension of the current lockdown in Sydney, we will probably have to reschedule. RSVPs will be the first to be contacted when we do reschedule.

Some people question why we have politicians at our functions. It is very important that we reach out to supportive members and senators of the Federal parliament as it will be there that a vote will be taken at some time in the future on a republic referendum and we are going to need people in the parliament to speak up for our safe and secure system of constitutional monarchy. It is regrettable that since the Labor Party has as a policy the bringing on of a republic, no Labor politician will support us. We have only had one Labor Senator, Joe Bullock (pictured below), who has championed our cause but he had to resign from the parliament because he could not bring himself to vote for certain Labor policies.

On Saturday, November 6 the League will be holding its annual conference, again, due to the need to guarantee numbers, in Sydney. We have a number of top guest speakers, and you are able to RSVP at AML 2021 National Conference.


The most recent AML Annual Conference

 

LOCKDOWNS

Of course, any activity that is organised in any State may be subject to cancellation if we face a lockdown. Such is life nowadays.

Indeed, it really is a sorry world we are living in today made even worse by the lockdowns in several States ending the few months of normality most experienced in the first half of this year. Being a country now based on diverse and economic migration, it has become a fact of life that families will travel backwards and forwards between their homelands and Australia with, unfortunately, a number of those returning to this country bringing new strains of the virus with them which are escaping into the community. Whilst the effort is now to get people vaccinated, it is probable that lockdowns will still continue in an ever-failing attempt to bring about zero-Covid tolerance in the country. The vaccination, like all vaccinations, is only intended to counteract the serious effects of the virus, not to prevent one getting it or even spreading it. We therefore could well be experiencing a continuation of this sort of uncertainty for several years to come. 

Whilst the States have their purpose within the federated Australia, it was never intended that State governments would block any Australian from entry. There is no mention of allowing free passage between the States because it was never, ever envisaged that any State would close its borders. Section 117 of the Australian constitution specifies that a subject of the Queen (which we still all are), resident in any State, shall not be subject to any other State to any disability or discrimination and Section 92 stipulates that intercourse among the States shall be absolutely free and whilst this section refers to trade, the meaning is quite clear. 

"117. A subject of the Queen, resident in any State, shall not be subject to any other State to any disability or discrimination which would not be equally applicable to him if he were a subject of the Queen resident in such other State."

 “92. On the imposition of uniform duties of customs, trade, commerce, and intercourse among the States, whether by means of internal carriage or ocean navigation, shall be absolutely free.”

Whilst courts have ruled that such blocking is in the interests of the people, with respect, it is not up to the courts to so determine. We have a constitution and that constitution must be abided by.

This is not an argument against lockdowns of areas if that is what it takes to limit the spread of the virus, however one wonders how we ever got into a situation whereby politicians, supported by bureaucrats, however well-qualified they may be, are dictating limitations on the freedom of the individual.

MOVES TOWARDS A REPUBLIC

Whilst there is little sentiment in the United Kingdom for a republic, we do know that the Australian republican movement have worked closely with their British counterpart. We also know that Peter FitzSimons travelled to Ireland for discussions on copying the Irish constitution in Australia.

AML members may remember that we mounted a very successful billboard campaign some years ago. Because the Australian media is essentially republican there was little media coverage even though the billboards were seen by tens of thousands of travellers around the country.


The UK republicans have copied our billboard campaign with a series of costly billboards targeting the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York. We fully expect that their counterparts in Australia will follow suit and we are readying ourselves to face that when it comes.

Whilst the Prince of Wales may not be popular in some quarters particularly due to his unfortunate comments in support of ‘The Great Reset’, and the Duke of York has his own problems, we must always remember that Australia’s democracy depends not on the individual person of the monarch or the royal family but on our constitutional system which uses the monarch both as a trustee of the Australian constitution and to ensure that by just being there no politician can assume that role. The job of parliamentarians is to govern whilst the monarchy’s job, through the Governor-General, is to ensure that the constitution is upheld.

Having said that, we have been so fortunate in having as our monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who, next year, will have served her people for seventy years.

We can only hope and pray that the Australian government will see fit to ensure that the platinum Jubilee of our Queen is properly celebrated throughout this country and not be pushed aside as so many royal anniversaries have been in past decades. If you have not signed our platinum Jubilee petition, you can still do so here Jubilee Petition or we can to do this on your behalf by emailing your permission to [email protected]

REPUBLICANISM BY STEALTH

This year there was no Queen’s birthday stamp. Australia Post says that the Palace did not approve their artwork. The Palace has been silent on the issue as they would probably not wish to cause controversy. However, New Zealand and many other realms issued Queen’s Birthday stamps, so why not Australia? We know not who to blame but it is up to each one of us to ensure that, next year, there will be a series of stamps commemorating the platinum Jubilee.

New Zealand Queen's
95th Birthday Stamps

Similarly, the Royal Australian Mint did not produce any coins for the Queen’s 95th Birthday or any to honour the Duke of Edinburgh whereas the Royal Mint and the Royal Canadian Mint both did so.

Regrettably the Minister of Finance who generally has carriage over these matters is a staunch republican. Senator Simon Birmingham will likely be the political leader in the next republican debate, and it would do us no good to appeal to him.

However, by hook or by crook, this republicanism by stealth must stop. We have a prime minister who displays the Queen’s portrait in his office, and should he win the next election it is up to each and every person who values our freedoms under the Crown to tirelessly lobby him to make sure that our sovereign head of state and our system of constitutional monarchy is never pushed aside again.

This brings me now to the Federal election. Recent newspolls have indicated a possible Labor victory if the election were held now. We all know what that means – a move towards a republic. The Albanese government has a shadow minister for constitutional change ready to put legislation before the parliament to bring about a referendum on change to a republic. Three years ago, the media had convinced us that there would be a Shorten Labor victory and now they are saying the same about an Albanese Labor government.

We don’t know whether a Labor government will pursue a referendum to enshrine an indigenous voice to the parliament within the constitution before, after or at the same time as a republic referendum. Whatever the case it is up to us all to be prepared for any eventuality.

It may be, of course, that the Coalition will win again meaning that there will be no immediate moves towards a republic referendum. Whilst we have friends in a Coalition government and none on the Labor side, it is important to note that the Australian Monarchist League is politically non-partisan. We have no affiliation with any political party, but we do value our friendship with parliamentarians of various political persuasions who uphold the Crown’s position at the heart of our civic system.

It is particularly important that candidates, whatever their political party, who will honour their oath of allegiance to the Queen are elected to the Federal parliament because it is that parliament which will decide whether or not to hold a referendum.

Accordingly, whichever political party any monarchist intends to vote for, we urge that they first check that, if elected, candidates will not promote a republic and thus seek to remove our safe and secure system of constitutional monarchy.

Indeed, we urge all of our members and supporters to canvass candidates on this matter and if you are on a preselection committee, please ask a question on whether such candidates support a republic or the status quo. There are already too many republicans of all political persuasions in the parliament. Never forget that those who swear or affirm to “be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Her heirs and successors according to law” and whilst doing so cross their fingers or otherwise have no intention of meaning it, are breaking a solemn oath and thus can never, ever be trusted to keep any political commitment or promise.

MONARCHISTS TODAY ARE DIFFERENT

In the 1990s and before, both republicans and monarchists came from different ideological reasonings than is the case today.

In those days monarchists mainly comprised empire-type loyalists who felt that they were British (which Australians were until 1983/4) and as such should support Britain and the British monarchy. Republicans, on the other hand, were basically led by Irish Catholics who continued their campaign of bitterness against the English in Australia. This is not me saying this but Thomas Keneally, the inaugural chairman of the Australian Republican Movement I suggest you read his book ‘Our Republic’ published in 1993 as it will provide an interesting insight into the beginnings of the modern republican crusade.

Of course, there were others on both sides who had varying reasons for their support but the above essentially describes the majority viewpoints.

However, reasonings behind support for the monarchy or for a republic today are essentially different. Monarchists, particularly amongst the younger generations together with new Australians, can be said to be generally those who support the Australian Constitution and Crown because it is the system of constitutional monarchy which best underwrites our freedoms and democracy and protects the interests of the people. Such monarchists believe that if we were to become a republic, politicians would assume a greater control over the system of governance with the result that our democracy would be tarnished and not survive intact.

Many people are republicans today because they cannot accept that we have as our sovereign head, a person who does not live in Australia and want an Australian as head of state. They do not accept the premise that the Governor-General is head of state pointing to the Queen as the person who is at the head of the parliament and who appoints the Governor-General.

The age-old angst against the English has died down, although Peter FitzSimons is well known for querying any monarchist he is debating who has an English-type accent, whether born in Australia or not, muttering that they wouldn’t understand. I wonder whether FitzSimons has ever questioned any of the journalists on the ABC, SBS or other media platforms who have varying accents deriving from their ethnicity, saying that they don’t understand whatever they are reporting on or debating. Of course not. It is a tool he uses to confuse and upset monarchists and should not be allowed by any media platform as it is distinctly racist.

THE NEXT STAGE

Your AML committees are already putting into place initial plans readying ourselves for the possibility, however indistinct it may be at this stage, of an Albanese government. We will shortly be calling on our members and supporters to help us in various areas. I know that, in recent times we have put out various requests, such as help with our newsletter, and whilst we have received some responses, for which we are very grateful, they have not been enough to enable us to actually proceed.

The next referendum/plebiscite debate will be totally different from the campaigns waged in the 1990s. It may surprise young people but there was limited social media around at the time of the 1999 referendum. According to the 2001 census only 16% of Australians used the Internet at home!

A Plebiscite

If there is to be a plebiscite it will probably be mainly online with limited mail and will most certainly be voluntary. We know from previous plebiscites that there will be fake voting. The majority of politicians in all parliaments will support the yes case as will almost the entirety of the media, including many on the more conservative platform of Sky News.

The plebiscite will be a simple question framed to encourage a ‘yes’ response without providing any detail of constitutional change. From our point of view a lot will depend on how our campaign is funded and the message we put across.

Even if a plebiscite passes, it will take a referendum for a republic to come into being. However, a successful plebiscite will be considered to be a vote of no confidence in the constitution and will irreparably damage its integrity.

The Referendum

A referendum will require the detail of any proposed changes to be put to the people although an Albanese government will endeavour not to do this and will instead ask the people to ‘trust them’ to provide the detail. The make-up of the Senate and which independents hold the balance of power in that chamber will therefore be crucially important for us.

Getting a succinct message in varying formats across to the people will be vitally important.

THE MEDIA

If there is one thing that has been drummed into us it is that we can never trust the media. A particular journalist interviewing one of our people may appear to be supportive but often the news item ends up as a send-up of the monarchy.

A typical instance of this was when we recently saw big black headlines proclaiming: “Ash Barty rejects Prince William claim after Wimbledon final” but when you read the article what Prince William had actually said to Ash Barty was “You didn’t look like you had any nerves today at all.” She demurred and said she was in fact very nervous. Surely undeserving of the headline that she had rejected his comment.

It is not uncommon these days for people, who knew what things were like 30 or more years ago, to ask “how is it that values and standards have deteriorated so much.”

The common identifying factor is the massive move of virtually everything onto the Internet. Whilst there have been advantages they have come at the cost of face-to-face contact. More than this has been the rise of 24/7 media bringing limited news and much gossip into the ears of the Australian population.

Because media is streamed online on a continuous basis the producers need to fill every moment of every day with something, however crass. In a country like Australia there is not enough proper news to go around, so we have seen the change from a reporter actually writing something that is factual and then putting it into print or airing it on TV or radio to that same reporter often repeating misinformation, innuendo and gossip, time and time and time again.

Most panellist shows, whether supposedly conservative or socialist, rarely have persons on their panels who know what they are talking about but, instead, have one or more sycophants mindlessly mumbling on about nothing of any consequence, often sharing their personal, often incendiary, opinions.

Sky News is well known for hosting conservative journalists. However, many such journalists often attack the conservative Coalition government and promote minor parties such as the Liberal Democrats.

As I continually emphasise, whatever political party individuals vote for is, of course, their own business but in regard to the Liberal Democrats I would point out that there is no mention whatsoever of support for our system of constitutional monarchy amongst their principal values and we do know that some of those elected under their name were, and are, republicans.

I urge our members never to fall into the trap of assuming that because people who become associated with a political party indicate that they are conservative, or even monarchist, does not in any way mean that the party itself is supportive of our constitutional monarchy and it may even support a republic.

However, my intention in pointing out conservative journalist attacks on conservatives is that whilst these same journalists may seem to support us today, they will easily turn around and attack the monarchy and the constitution tomorrow if it suits them.

OUR SITUATION

With the lengthy lockdown our office is closed and all our fund-raising activities, such as functions, have had to be cancelled. Whilst there are State and federal support packages provided to businesses, there is no support available for us as a voluntary not-for-profit organisation even though we are taxed as a company! Like a business we have our liabilities, such as equipment and other lease arrangements, all of which have to be paid but our only source of income nowadays are membership fees and some contributions for which we are always tremendously grateful, and I express our deep appreciation to those few individuals who do support us.

We know that for many times are tough, but it is vitally important that those who are able to contribute, even a small amount, do so in order that our organisation will continue on so that we are ready, when the time comes, to fight to retain our system of governance under the Crown and thus ensure the protection of the democratic rights of the people against the constant erosion by authoritarian politicians.

Those who wish to support us can do so at:www.monarchist.org.au/donation-info or by cheque or credit card to:
AML, P O Box A1213, Sydney South NSW 1235 or via email to: [email protected]

Thank you all so very much
Yours sincerely

Philip Benwell
National Chair
Australian Monarchist League

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  • Philip Benwell
    published this page in Newsletters 2021-07-26 22:49:51 +1000