What’s in a name?

To commemorate the Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous round in the AFL this year, three teams – Melbourne, Fremantle and Port Adelaide – will change their names to an aboriginal “in-language” name, with Port Adelaide announcing that their “new” name will be a permanent feature of the round. But what maybe undertaken as an enhancement to a wider purview – in this case the AFL’s reconciliation process – in no way assures an improvement to the odds of a team win this week or any other, and after all, wins and losses is what really matters at this level of sport.

At the outset of his term at the helm of the Sydney Swans, Tom Hafey, the legendary Australian rules coach, was asked for an anecdote about the funny side of football. Hafey replied tersely – “there’s nothing funny about football”. To this tenet of professional sporting doctrine may be added that validly the apex of all professional sport is to win; everything else is surplusage.

But football teams may not turn winning into a habit if they lack a strong and loyal support base, for the two tend to go hand in hand. And for those clubs whose success is neither sustained nor celebrated widely in the form of a robust fan base, fate, aka the AFL bean counters, have been known to organise a relocation elsewhere. So the binding of the one to the other – of fan to club – is of real importance. But how to do that; how does the fan stay tethered to his/her footy side regardless of the on-field performance?

Like any knitting together of a people, one must look to that group’s cultural artefacts to understand their loyalty. In football, it is adherence to a team’s colours, song, and name, that both inspire the triumph of success and equally compensate for a fruitless season. Though the team song maybe rarely sung, the banners seldom held high and only muted barracking from the terraces be heard during a lean season, the fans still know that they and their team exist and one day renown will return. These are the things, of which the name and colours are paramount, that binds the fan to the team.

Over the last decade or so, some major Australian sites have been given the name change treatment as the acknowledgement of aboriginal culture is being encouraged. Places like Ayres Rock – Uluru -and more recently Fraser Island – K’gari – are two examples. A few months ago I saw Kel Richards – the wordsmith – on Peta Credlin’s Sky News show discussing this phenomenon. Richards pointed out that these choreographed names changes are not entirely necessary. All over the country there are thousands and thousands of aboriginal place names, which despite European settlement have remained in place and are still in use. Consequently, the recognition of aboriginal presence in Australia has been accepted from the beginning of settlement. One more name change is neither necessary or certain to inspire further acknowledgement of the reality.

But this policy to acknowledge the aboriginal presence in Australia pre-settlement is today everywhere. The AFL’s significant support of this position mirrors other organisations such as the ABC and SBS. But playing guernseys and WtC/AoC ceremonies are one thing, team name changes, even their temporary use, hold an entirely different point of tension. So while the former has been given prominence during the round, apart from the initial announcements by the clubs of their changes of name, there has been little if any further reference to the latter.

In irony of ironies the names are as lost now as they were at the time of European settlement. There are no listings in the TV guides, nor are they heard from in the match commentaries and no voice carries their vocalisations in the barracking crowds, which shows that the AFL and the Clubs know the entire thing is a bridge too far for the fans and is nothing more than a shallow gimmick. Were the names to have been taken up with the same gusto that the ABC and SBS have similarly embedded in their programming, then it could be asked legitimately whether the Melbourne, Fremantle and Port Adelaide football clubs still exist as actual AFL teams; the result of which would be what ties their supporters to these clubs?

Today in Australia all political, cultural and social roads lead to the voice and the AFL is a vocal part of this massive band wagon. But as Paul Keating famously acknowledged when he took on Bob Hawke the first time for the leadership of the ALP and hence the prime-ministership, he only had one shot in the locker. The voice is in similar territory. If it goes down the country would have dealt with it both democratically and in finito. Yes, in some quarters there will be tears. The country will survive. But unlike politics and constitutional change, a nation’s cultural heritage and artefacts, of which national sports are a major feature, are entirely something else. Consequently, using a team’s members, supporters and their artefacts of identification as cultural appropriation for a political ends is too cute by half.

An antipodean constitutional arrangement in King Charles’ Court (with apologies to Mark Twain).

Next week in Westminster Abbey, Charles Philip Arthur George will be crowned King Charles III of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of His other Realms and Territories. But not everyone is happy at this renewal of the monarchy and would prefer in place of it a republic. Of course each to his own; in a democracy always there will be different views. However, to those who support constitutional change, I would say, “please shut up until you have a model that works at least as good as, if not better than, the system we have”.

“Shutting up” is not something that republicans seem able to do, model or no model. Consequently, republican “noise” is no more than attention-seeking, which may work a little around the edges when occasions of moment such as a coronation or a royal marriage occur. But murmurings about cost or reminders of the character inadequacies of one or two previous incumbents of the job are simply low grade grumblings and in no way a serious argument for change.

The character of the monarch may carry a modicum of standing in an argument for change, but this is only at the margins and diminishes once this lifetime of constitutional responsibility is taken up. And always there will be another reign that may burn the brighter still. That is the special nature of constitutional monarchy.

So in the absence of an argument worthy of the name, the usual default position republicans take tends to personal attack, and so it was this last week. Reported in The Australian (April, 25), the chief executive of the republic.org.uk group, Graham Smith, decided to knock Australia for retaining our constitutional arrangements.

My message to Australia specifically is get on with it. You know, there’s no time like the present and there’s no reason why you would hold onto it (the monarchy).

Two points strike me about Mr Smith’s opinion of the Australian constitutional model. First, in the absence of any serious discussion for constitutional change in the UK, British republicans are expecting, nay goading, “the colonies” to fight their battle for them. Suggested, in that admonishment, is that were Australia to become a republic, our “moving on” to “better” climes may give succour for change in Blighty: the argument being, if the monarchy is obsolete in the antipodes, it too can be obsolete at home.

What Smith’s urging shows is that the British republicans have nothing in their constitutional larder to tempt their own people to remove the monarchical system. Additionally, the whole idea is akin to a reverse transportation mindset. Smith is saying, “can you convicts help us out?; how about you throw out your system of government so that we may do the same here!”

Second, Smith is charging us with a type of “cultural cringe”, which he bases on Australian egalitarianism vis-à-vis British deference. For him, our egalitarian spirit, which he became aware of while residing in Australia in the 1990s – and which was the reason for his conversion to republicanism upon his return to the UK – is the antithesis of monarchy.

But Smith well and truly misses the mark in this claim. Egalitarianism – that frame of mind that says we are all equal under the law – gives most Australians pause when discussions of constitutional change arise. Always, even from the most innocuous constitutional amendments, the possibility of eroding what few rights we have is a risk. With a change of the extent and breadth of republican government then those risks are multiplied.

Since the 1990s, the only republican model the political class will countenance – a joint sitting of the House and the Senate to confirm by two-thirds majority vote a candidate of their selection for president, is in no way egalitarian. Such an election is a mockery of the democratic process and antithetical to our egalitarianism. So much for Smith’s understanding of how Aussies think.

But knowing full well that his appeals and admonishments are without hope of achievement – both there and here – Smith resorts to insults and mudslinging, much like a child in a playground. Thus King Charles is:

“… not the king of Australia, he’s the king of this country (the United Kingdom). And Charles sees himself as the king of this country. And everybody in this country sees him as the king of this country and the the idea that he’s the king of Australia, or New Zealand or Canada or wherever, it’s very much an afterthought...Many, many days go by without him giving a second thought to these other countries.

Legally, and whether it suits Smith or not, Charles III is King of Australia; though it is the Governor General who maintains responsibility for the constitutional duties of the monarch. This is no “afterthought” and nor is the esteem felt by this nation when royal visits occur. In fact, it is insulting that Smith can presume to understand the extent and breadth of the relationship we have with the monarchy, and expect that his dislike of that relationship should encourage us in such momentous a change.

But as in all illusions when reality comes knocking at the door, Smith realises he has little hope of convincing us that under a republic it will be a brighter, better future. So in his final churlish remarks he makes the claim that we should partly pay for the monarch’s upkeep in the UK. Despite the position of Governor General.

… you know, get your own head of state. And also if you don’t get your own head of state pay for ours, because at the moment, we’re paying for the whole lot.”

In his range of complaint and absence of any generosity of spirit to a fellow Member of the Commonwealth, I am compelled to reciprocate his lack of a sense of humour and say in response, “mate, you’re a bit late to the party; we settled these terms way back in 1901; sorry, it’s not up for renegotiation”.

A female trans-Jizya is now upon us.

The Jizya is an Islamic poll tax that was levied on those who would not convert. The Jizya was designed to both penalise and humiliate the non-believer. For their tribute the non-believer both buys protection from the overlord and submits themselves publicly before the Collector of the Jizya. In this way, the unbeliever – and everyone else – is fully cognisant of their demeaned position.

A new type of Jizya, one with different overlords and different tribute-payers, has manifested in the West. Stories of trans-people claiming inclusion rights to access female-only spaces and compete in the sporting contests of women and girls are commonplace. But these claims for inclusion allocate equal time to an unbending indifference to the needs of others: for the trans lobby, rights and needs work in one direction only.

On the Open Thread today is a link to a report about the experience of four “freshmen” school girls showering after physical education in a Wisconsin school locker room in early March. The link is below. This is the précis.

Upon entering the locker room the girls noticed a male student, aged about eighteen, who was not part of their class but who they believed identified as transgender. Though feeling uncomfortable, they proceeded to the showers. While they were under the showers the male student entered the showers, undressed fully, and announced his trans status.

Initially, the male turned away from the girls but then turned around while still under the shower, fully exposing his male genitalia. The girls hurried to finish their showering and withdraw from the area. Afterwards, they did not know what to do. Finally, one of the girls confided the experience to another student. That student advised that the incident should be reported to the school. The families of the girls are taking legal action.

While the girls’ experience would be one of the most egregious ordeals of this kind, such instances are becoming more commonplace as transgender people insist that females include them in female-only spaces and activities.

Sometimes “acceptance” of the circumstance is the result of an unexpected and unnavigable situation, for which no-one ever agreed, as in this case. This is especially true for children who neither have the maturity or experience to respond to any type of harassment especially sexual harassment. At other times, decisions about inclusion management have ordained. Female place holders being required to stand on a dais while a male person receives the accolade for “winning” what is really a no-contest event, is an example of managerial box-ticking. But whenever diversity and inclusion claims become the only acceptable moral position, humiliation of the female – the penalty for the trans-Jizya – is the result.

Exclusion of males from competing in female-only sport has now begun – see swimming and athletics -but not all sports acknowledge what is patently obvious. Change rooms, toilets and showers are still “contested spaces” – like women themselves- as our former CMO, Dr Brendan Murphy, advised Senate Estimates not that long ago. Females and female-only spaces are not tribute. Politicians and bureaucrats are on notice.


A flurry of “voice” own goals.

Australians have been warned that if the voice does not receive approval then it will be the end of Welcome to Country, says Marcia Langton. I suspect that for many, many Aussies a future without WtCs is an agreeable thought.

If the voice referendum fails with the result that the WtC recitations permanently became a thing of the past, what would there be not to like? In a post WtC Australia, every sporting code would just have to get on with it, and the same would be true in every office and in every meeting in the land. As business returned to doing something constructive with its time and resources productivity would increase. No more silly virtue signalling from that company that earns its income way above the earth’s surface and well outside the claims of a hunter-gatherer society. To repeat: what’s not to like! To quote the great Rita: “your terms are acceptable, Marcia”.

Perhaps in her desire to encourage the various Aboriginal representatives to get out and actively campaign for the yes vote, Marcia has not sufficiently thought this thing through. Could it be that instead of a warning to her own “mob” that the lucrative WtC will come to an end should the referendum go down, Marcia has encouraged the wider Australian public – a much larger cohort – to vote down the referendum to see an end to this pretend ceremony? If so, this would be one of the classic own goals.

A few days later another voice in the voice debate kicked another own goal. After his colleagues determined that they could not support the Prime Minister’s model for the voice, Julian Lesser, the former shadow Attorney General and spokesman for Indigenous Australians, resigned from the Coalition front bench to campaign instead for the yes vote. Yet despite admitting that he had real concerns over the inclusion of executive representations in the voice, Lesser said he would remain supportive of the referendum even and if the Prime Minister did not heed those concerns. So a lawyer with more than a passing interest in constitutional matters and ten plus years working for Aboriginal recognition in the Constitution, admits to reservations about the direction/power the voice proponents are insisting on, but still declares his support.

A decade leading toward unequal constitutional recognition of citizens while simultaneously maintaining his constitutional conservative moniker looks like a political dead end for Julian. But is this too harsh a judgement of the poor man? Maybe being dudded at the final hurdle with that left field inclusion of executive government by his voice committee colleagues, yet still insisting on supporting that position, is more a case of being hogtied in a “Stockholm Syndrome-like” grasp. As Janet Albrechtsen wrote in The Australian last week, Lesser ‘…appears so emotionally invested in the voice he will vote for it even if it installs co-government’. A particularly unedifying position for a shadow Attorney General to be in and the premature end to a “stunning” political career from a political nonentity, , as Greg Sheridan put it. (Finally, something to agree with Sheridan on). Then own goals started piling up.

Senator Simon Birmingham, the shadow Foreign Affairs spokesperson and Coalition Senate leader, announced that he would not campaign for the Liberal Party no-position. But, unlike Lesser, Birmingham intended to remain on the front bench. Birmingham’s announcement had the effect that some of his colleagues declared his position untenable. On Sky, and in his standard bureaucratese, he endeavoured to hold back the inevitable by expressing an unfounded hope, like Lesser, that the PM would get rid of the reference to the executive. Birmingham must know that he is gone for all money; for having put the knee into a core Westminster principle, this front bencher is now damaged goods.

Then, in The Weekend Australian of last weekend, we had Greg Craven’s U-turn on his previous U-turn, back to backing the referendum. And, like Lesser, he announced that he would maintain that support whether or not the government removes the reference to the executive – which coincidentally was the reason for his original U-turn.

Reasonably it may be asked if Craven has discovered some constitutionally-sound mechanism to maintain his reputation as a constitutional conservative and yet be able to return to the fold of the referendum cheer leaders? Well, no. In fact, his Australian column came down to nothing more than feelz. In this long and boring column of twaddle not once did Craven address any of the constitutional concerns that he – and others – had raised when the Prime Minister finally announced the model. Attempting to propel himself up into the heavenly clouds of vibe purity had only one real consequence, and one which was in the opposite direction. Immediately, he fell back to earth and into the pile of vitriol he had thrown on the Liberal party position for them finally acknowledging that our Constitution is built on the sound democratic principle of one person one vote.

In his final statement, meant, it would seem, to hearken after an earlier generation of brave men who had actually fought and died for freedom, Craven actually declared that ‘…if necessary [he would] bleed for the voice’. But perspiration marks around the collar does not cut it. With these emotionally charged, lawyerly gymnastics, without doubt Craven has undermined his credibility as an actual constitutional lawyer – and an own goal of the most profound.

With still many months until the referendum vote is taken, how many more own goals are out there still?

A constitutional change that we all can agree on.

This year, constitutional change is in the air. But like so many previous attempts to alter the Australian Constitution, this one – the creation of an Aboriginal Voice – is being shown to be every bit as controversial as most earlier attempts at change. In medical parlance: “the patient is not looking good.”

But the Government may save its constitutional face if another question was submitted to a vote, and one that we can all agree on: a referendum to deny the state the power to enforce lock downs and control of citizens.

Ever since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, many Australians continue to ask how the state could have completely overridden their rights. To say we were dismayed would not cover the frightening reality of what living through the pandemic brought to these shores. And if for any reason we were returned to that state of lost liberty now, again there would be no remedy at the removal of our rights, unless we raised pitchforks in defiance.

But while we and the rest of the western world succumbed to this abuse of citizens, one country did not: Sweden. In Sweden, unlike anywhere else, there were no lock downs.

On April, 19, 2022, The Washington Monthly https://washingtonmonthly.com/2022/04/19/what-sweden-got-right-about-covid/ reported that,

While most countries imposed draconian restrictions, there was an exception: Sweden. Early in the pandemic, Swedish schools and offices closed briefly but then reopened. Restaurants never closed. Businesses stayed open. Kids under 16 went to school…Sweden seems to have been right. Countries that took the severe route to stem the virus might want to look at the evidence found in a little-known 2021 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The researchers found that among 11 wealthy peer nations, Sweden was the only one with no excess mortality among individuals under 75. None, zero, zip.  That’s not to say that Sweden had no deaths from COVID. It did. But it appears to have avoided the collateral damage that lockdowns wreaked in other countries.’


Initially, Sweden received much odium for its outlier response with claims that the country was putting at risk their people by not locking down. But since then, as that article points out, Sweden’s approach to Covid-19 has been vindicated.

But the larger question still remains. Why was it that Sweden managed Covid without control orders over its people, when at that time the “jury was still out” on whether not locking down would work to stop the virus. How was this small Nordic country able to withstand the on-line abuse, including what must have been significant pressure from external forces, such as the WHO and the EU, from not enforcing the full gambit of freedom-destroying policies. Why was Sweden different during Covid?

In her article, The truth about Sweden’s voluntary lockdown in The Spectator (22/9/20), https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-myth-of-sweden/ Dr Rachel Irwin addressed the novel Swedish management of the pandemic, writing that under the Swedish Constitution,

Swedish law does not allow for many types of lockdown measures. Even something as simple as closing a beach is tricky because, in general, beach access is covered by the Right of Public Access which, in turn, is enshrined in the Swedish constitution. The limitations of Swedish law partly explain why the parliament passed temporary amendments to the Communicable Diseases Act in the spring, which would have allowed for the closure of shops and other commercial spaces (this provision expired at the end of June without being used).

So Sweden did not refuse to lock down; rather it was not a legal option for the country. 

Irwin goes on to say:

The Public Health Agency also believed that voluntary measures would work as well as compulsory ones and that people could be trusted to act responsibly. However, Swedes are not inherently more responsible than other people. But by repeatedly and consistently telling us that we were responsible and could be trusted to use our judgement, the government and authorities performed an extremely effective Jedi-mind trick: we were told that we were responsible, so most of us were responsible.

So when people are treated like adults, they act like adults! Well, how surprising is that! Who knew?

Irwin continues:

That said, high levels of societal and institutional trust meant that we were already comfortable with following official recommendations. About 60 per cent of Swedes agree that ‘most people can be trusted’ compared to just 30 per cent in the UK, and institutional trust is also higher in Sweden. Size matters, as well: while Swedes have political scandals like any other country, our politicians and civil servants are not faceless bureaucrats, but fellow Swedes. If I email a public official, I usually expect a response, not a formal letter written by an administrator. However, societal and institutional trust are not intrinsic, and can work in large countries. Trust is earned and nurtured, and it can be lost — an encouragement and warning to any government.

Yes, trust is a cornerstone of a free and open society (and, to repeat, is earned and nurtured). Unlike in Sweden, however, during the pandemic (and now), we lost trust in our institutions. Here, not only were our freedoms taken from us, we were belligerently and repeatedly lied to.

We know this from Scott Morrison’s interview with Sharri Markson on Sky News last week, and his assertion that neither he nor National Cabinet’s expert advisory panel – the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee – supported widespread vaccine mandates: https://newcatallaxy.blog/2023/03/09/no-vaccine-mandates-pull-the-other-one/

In his article, Lars Jonung expands on Sweden’s constitutional limitations of controlling its citizens: Sweden’s constitution decides its exceptional Covid-19 policy, (CEPR, 18/12/2020). https://cepr.org/voxeu/columns/swedens-constitution-decides-its-exceptional-covid-19-policy

The relevant sections of the Swedish constitution (Regeringsformen) are Chapter 2, Article 8 (personal liberty), and Chapter 12, Article 2 (independence of administration):

On personal liberty, Chapter 2, Article 8 declares that,

Everyone shall be protected in their relations with the public institutions against deprivations of personal liberty. All Swedish citizens shall also in other respects be guaranteed freedom of movement within the Realm and freedom to depart the Realm.’

Under independence of administration, Chapter 12, Article 2 states that:

‘No public authority, including the Riksdag, or decision-making body of any local authority, may determine how an administrative authority shall decide in a particular case relating to the exercise of public authority vis-à-vis an individual or a local authority, or relating to the application of law.

According to Jonung, ‘the Swedish system is based on administrative dualism, where the public agencies are set up outside the ministries of the central government.’ This means that the government (politicians etc) may not extend influence over public agencies for political advantage.

If Australia had similar constitutional limitations then neither the Commonwealth nor the States could have used as medical camouflage health bureaucrats to enforce arbitrary controls on the people. If constitutional constrols had been in place in this country, like in Sweden, government overreach could never have been an option and the trust between the citizen the state would not have been lost.

In the comments section of my post for New Cat – ‘No vaccine mandates?’ Pull the other one – 8/3/23, one comment stood out:

March 10, 2023 at 12:49 pm
‘As per the post, he [Morrison] declared a federal biosecurity emergency, giving him (OK, his “Health Minister”) near unlimited control and requiring very specific circumstances to be met – that is, “due process” is part of this legislation.

So he could have gotten that power and said something like:

“There WILL be NO mandates and no coercion from the states to get a vax. If the states try to do this, they will be charged under federal law, as will any company or government department that demands personal health information from Australians to enter their premises, regardless of whether they are an employee, a customer or for any other reason. Such health discrimination is completely unacceptable, and I will put in place systems to ensure that anyone who attempts such bastardry is prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

The Australian people have given us their trust to run the country, we must reciprocate that trust, and trust their own judgment on what is best for their own health. There can be no argument that it is ‘my body, my life and my choice’, as every state health department currently recognises with some sort of ‘right to refuse treatment’ policy.

While we certainly encourage all Australians to obtain the vax for this horrible disease, it is ultimately between them and their trusted medical professional as to what is right and best for them, and no government – local, state or federal – has the right to interfere in such decisions, much less demand it. Shame on anyone who thinks they have the right to control another persons health decisions.”

But he didn’t have the balls to stand up to the “worriers” and fright-bats – too worried about “the optics” and getting blamed if grandma died.’

Kneel is right. Our former Prime Minister could have shown our nation true leadership, rather than the twisted mea culpa we endured at his National Press Club address in February, 2022, when he declared that his job was getting everyone (the premiers) in the room and getting an agreement.

If Australians are going to continue to vote into power such low value politicians then we need a Plan B that will limit the power of government over us (outside of war) like Sweden has.

While we may not wish to embrace any additional features of the Swedish Constitution, certainly the limitation on control of citizens and control of (all?/some?) public agencies would ensure that were we ever to experience another pandemic our rights as free people could not be removed.

When the framers of the Australian Constitution conceived our national document, they sought among other things to ensure a system of free trade, which included free intercourse between the states. Subsequent constitutional challenges, however, have reduced that original intention to make trade and intercourse absolutely free to more exactly a determination by the states, with the consequence that our right to absolute free movement has been and can be, given the “right” set of circumstances, restricted when politicians deem it necessary.

A referendum proposal that would enshrine unambiguously the limiting of the power of the state over the people, would ensure that one constitutional change will get up this year. That is a referendum we can all vote yes to!

‘No Vaccine Mandates?’ – Pull the other one.

This week, former Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, in the jargon of the media, sat down with Sky News journalist, Sharri Markson. Though the interview covered a range of subjects, there was only one area that interested me: vaccine mandates.

In the interview, Morrison asserted that he and his Government never supported widespread vaccine mandates. Neither, he said, did National Cabinet’s expert advisory panel – the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, (which is the standing committee of all State and Territory Chief Health Officers, with the Australian CMO as Chair). In fact, apart from “aged care and sensitive health settings,” which were mandated by the Commonwealth, Morrison claimed that it was the State Governments who forced vaccine mandates on to Australians.

Continue reading “‘No Vaccine Mandates?’ – Pull the other one.”

The death of “old Australia”? Perhaps that’s premature.

‘Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,’ is a well known quote from Mark Twain. This quote came to mind while reading Craig Emerson’s column – Why Australia Day will just die of old age – in Monday’s edition of the Australian Financial Review.

Emerson’s column argues that the Grim Reaper of demographics is stalking old Australia, its people and its national day. A new cohort of settlers will arrive to replace us and usher in a republic, he asserts. When, you may ask, will this happen? The answer: sometime in the middle of this century.

Reading Emerson’s column reminded me of another prophet of doom, aka a frustrated republican. Some decades ago, the author Thomas Kenneally blamed the lack of movement on an Australian republic on an older generation. Musing about the coming death of that generation, who he saw were holding back republicanism, Kenneally’s appeal was to their children who he thought would readily throw off the “colonial shackles,” once their parents were gone.

With still no actual movement for change on the horizon, Emerson realises a “Plan B” will be needed. To see in an Australian republic and deliver the coup de grâce to our constitutional monarchy and national day, immigration, he argues, will be that weapon.

Quoting from the most recent Intergenerational Report, Emerson writes:

‘It’s not that the citizens who oppose change to any of these absurdities will have changed their minds by 2050, it’s that there won’t be many of them around.

net overseas migration is projected to contribute a whopping 75 per cent of Australia’s population growth in 40 years’ time.

The two biggest source countries for immigrants nowadays? China and India. And the fastest growing countries of birth between the 2016 and 2021 census periods were India, Nepal, the Philippines, Vietnam and China. Not many monarchists there.

To assert that our Constitution and national day will not last, because we will not last, shows how unconvincing is the republican case for change.

Moreover, the lack of grace to his fellow Australians and exultant wish to replace our people – our families, friends and neighbours and those who have fought for this nation, who have protected its people from natural disasters and from wars and conflicts- to bring in a republic, is distasteful.

Distasteful as well and also presumptuous, is to assert that new immigrants, wherever they may come from, will not share a regard for our institutional arrangements, traditions and culture. What Craig Emerson forgets is that some of the most ardent supporters of this nation and our way of life are its most recent arrivals who see a just people and place of opportunity and safety. But like all collectivists, Emerson does not accept that everyone is an individual and differences of opinion can and do exist.

On one thing Emerson is right: death (like taxes) is certain. But he should know that nothing else in life is inevitable. I can think of many things that were claimed about the future, until they were not. And what about Global Warming in all this? Are we not all due to expire well before mid century, thereby making a future republic academic?!

Left out of Emerson’s presumptions about what Australia will be like mid century is that medical advancements and better nutrition have greatly increased the span of human years and made old age a much more active and engaging experience. Maybe our immortality will be just around the corner, to the chagrin of every republican who, with Craig Emerson, desires to be rid of us all and the old Australia!

Flag flying on Australia Day

On Australia Day I fly the national flag from our front balcony. From both directions along our street it can be seen. Never once have I thought this action is a political statement. Until now.

Australians tend to shy away from overt displays of politics. Yes, we vote; that is a given in a compulsory voting system. But looking around the suburbs, among the callistemons, camellias or cacti, you would never know your neighbours’ political opinions or voting intentions. This is not to say they, or we, do not have them. It is just that we do not ordinarily share them with the neighbours via lawn signs and other showy displays. It is not our thang!

However, flying the flag is something different. Flag flying became de rigueur during the Sydney Olympics in 2000 when we were all encouraged to get behind our sporting heroes. As a sporting nation, this was not a hard thing to do.

From then on Australia Day really became a “fun-ly” patriotic day of BBQs, sporting activities and free events organised by community groups, state governments and town councils. Business got into the act by sponsoring different activities and events, both locally and nationally. All manner of Aussie themed merchandise from bunting and napkins to beach towels and bikinis gave retail sales a lift between Christmas and Easter, and for which the big (and small retailers) were truly thankful. Along with the AOTY awards, fireworks displays and citizenship ceremonies, the Australian Open, and what was once the Adelaide Test Match fixture, this was a day to celebrate being Australian.

My Australia Day flag flying has always fitted perfectly with the tenor of the day: pride in the Australian way of life, pride in its people and their achievements, and pride in our past and in our future.

This year, numerous large and important companies decided to ignore the day because of the ubiquitous “diversity and inclusion.” Some companies have even offered to allow their employees to work and take another day off at some other time. Message to these imbeciles, many people work on Australia Day and on the other national days and holidays throughout the year. Working Australia Day does not mean that Australia Day is of no importance to those workers. But such statements fit nicely with the current fashion to delegitimise us and our national day.

Will I take down the flag? Not on your life! Will I fly the flag on January 26 next year? You betcha! Today, I made a political statement.

No State Funeral for Cardinal Pell

The first State Funerals in Australia honoured the explorers Robert Burke and William Wills in Melbourne in 1863 after their attempt to cross the continent from south to north ended in failure. Today, State Funerals in Australia more often recognise statesmanship (politicians), and the more human level of endeavour than was the case in the past.   This in no way demeans any recipient of a State Funeral, but recognises the modern world and the reality of the fewer truly heroic exemplars in the historic sense of that term.

In some cases, the passing on of the individual fully resonates with the populace – thousands turned out for Burke and Wills.  In other cases, the societal reaction may have been more subdued. This in no way invalidates the granting of a State Funeral: State Funerals are not popularity contests. Nor are outpourings of loss the yardstick for the granting of a State Funeral, although such emotion may be palpable among the many attendees.  Were it so then most, if not all, politicians would never be granted a State Funeral. A State Funeral is meant formally to acknowledges the service, courage, and endeavour of the individual. Last week, Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic, died in Rome. Immediately, both the Victorian and New South Wales Premiers ruled out a State Funeral for the Cardinal.

In Victoria’s case, Daniel Andrews was quick to reference the victims of child sexual abuse to imply the Cardinal’s disqualification from the honour of a State Funeral.  This was a shallow attempt to rehash the now discredited and false criminal accusations made against the Cardinal and over which the High Court had fully dealt.  But also the Premier (and others) want to widen the claims of culpability against Cardinal Pell – having not “got their man” in the courts, Pell’s detractors want to forever hang the crimes of others around his neck by redrawing him as some sort of ignoble cut-out character of popular fiction.  The refusal of a State Funeral being the “reasonable” evidence of his guilt and disqualification.

Through all these turnings, including the Cardinal’s fortitude while being incarcerated for 404 days in solitary confinement before his full exoneration, admirers saw a man who faced his tormenters with grace, humility, and courage. For those who followed his career from the beginning, this was the man they knew and not the contrived depiction drawn by his enemies.

“Be not afraid” – the episcopal motto of Cardinal Pell – stands now as a fitting epitaph for a man of God and becomes a witness to those who would doubt themselves at their own time of trial. Premier Andrews may think he has finished with Cardinal Pell, but the Cardinal’s legacy shines a light on the State of Victoria under this Premier.

A new Winslow Boy case

The Brittany Higgins sexual assault case – now aborted – has left in legal limbo the accused, Bruce Lehrmann. This is unacceptable in a country that has the common law doctrine of innocent until proven guilty at the heart of its justice system.

Lehrmann’s current difficulties remind me of another case. Though of very different circumstances, like Lehrmann, the accused in that case was unable to clear his name. Known as The Winslow Boy because of the play and subsequent movie of that name, this was the story of George Archer-Shee v The King.

In 1908, George Archer-Shee, a young cadet aged thirteen at the Royal Naval College at Osborne, was accused of stealing a five-shilling postal note from another boy and cashing it at the post office. The result of this accusation was that Archer-Shee was expelled from Osborne. Unfortunately, the Admiralty would not review the case despite the boy’s assertion that he was innocent. However, the boy’s father refused to accept that young George had committed the crime.

This was a time when one’s name was of the highest of value to a family. Reputations then were of even greater importance than they are today. Today, for example, sports “stars” can be resurrected reputationally with some good PR work, despite a major misdemeanour. Then, doors would have closed permanently and few if any options would arise under the same circumstances. And even under normal circumstances, without the support of a patron willing to vouch for another, one’s prospects were slim.

A celebrated barrister and Member of the Commons took up the case after spending some hours with the lad to ascertain if truly he was telling the truth. But hurdles remained. Here we can identify some similarities with Bruce Lehrmann’s current situation in the ACT DPP’s decision to withdraw the accused’s right to a second trial because of the plaintiff’s reported medical condition, and yet state that the case had merit.

Because Archer-Shee was a naval cadet the civil courts were not an option. Second, the boy was not entitled to a court martial because he was not enlisted. The only recourse was a petition of right against the crown. The legal principle being challenged was the doctrine that the king (and the Admiralty as a result) could do no wrong. Consequently, George Archer-Shee’s reputation wallowed longer in legal limbo than it otherwise should have (as does Lehrmann’s reputation today).

Finally, the government succumbed and George’s case went before the High Court on 26th July, 1910. George was cleared. (Tragically, George was killed at the age of nineteen at the First Battle of Ypres, on the 31st October, 1914).

The Winslow Boy, with screenplay by Terrence Rattigan and with Robert Donat playing the barrister and Sir Cedric Hardwicke in the role of the father in the film version, is wonderful. Though like other cinematic treatments of historic events and characters, it, too, melds art and history, it is still well worth the watch (challenging our prime Cat movie man reviewer, Wolfie, here.) And especially so because it upholds powerfully the right of all those who stand accused the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial.