Charles III by the Grace of God King of Australia

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Well, that will cause many of my friends to cringe or worse, but some to cheer! I have a range of friends. Being even more ancient than the King and having been a British Subject in 1954, though born in Australia, I can remember this vividly from when I was 10 years old:

We stopped being British Subjects in 1984 — Google it!

No doubt in 1954 that Elizabeth II was indeed the Queen of Sutherland, and of The Gong:

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There in fact she is walking past City Diggers where she had lunch — probably not the rissoles or the barramundi, so she missed out really. Of course it was just the RSL then and a different building, and you can judge yourself how soon after rhe War this was by all those youngish blokes with medals. All dead now, but then so are the Queen and the Duke. But the great thing about monarchy is that being hereditary — though not all are — it simply carries on. So now we have King Charles who has been to Australia very many times. He could almost apply for citizenship!

He does actually do things as well. Like the Prince’s Trust.

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So should we have a King?

I did vote for a Republic in 1999, Would I now? Not necessarily….

Let’s see what I said 15 years ago

Oz Republic?

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23 APRIL 2008

It will happen, no doubt about it, by 2050 if not by 2020 (sic!) I honestly cannot imagine the current constitutional arrangements carrying on for all that much longer, but by 2050 I will of course be long dead. I guess though that at that time Australian Monarchists will seem rather like the Jacobites in McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series, and like those Jacobites they will probably still be having meetings. (The irony for the Jacobites is that they resent the displacement of the true monarchs of Scotland by the German Princeling George I, and instead look to another German Princeling, that of Bavaria, as the True Monarch. It’s true that the nearest descendant of James II is a Prince of Bavaria, but that line long since relinquished any claim themselves.)

Meanwhile, reading as I am the wonderful and sometimes cantankerous Norman Davies, this time Europe East & West, I should like to point out, as he does, that the last Queen of England was Anne. Since 1707 there have been no English monarchs as such; Elizabeth II (or perhaps to be quite accurate Elizabeth I) is Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but not, technically, of England. All of which no longer has any direct relevance to Australia, but she ALSO happens to be Queen of Australia, and in that role is her connection with us. (See for the current position The Australia Act 1986.) Then there is of course the somewhat vaguer, but still I believe useful, Commonwealth, of which she is the head duly recognised by quite a few republics.

So at the moment, as the coinage tells me quite clearly, Elizabeth II (or I) is the Australian Head of State; but then the Constitution is usually understood to say that the Governor-General is our Head of State, and in practice this is the case.  His powers are generally subject to Parliament, but less so than those of the Queen in The United Kingdom. One of the fascinations of reading Frank Welsh’s Great Southern Land earlier this year was the skill with which he traces the powers of Governor/Governor-General from Governor Phillip, who was virtually an absolute monarch in his domain, to the present day, showing what varied from state to state and period to period, and what was retained or modified in 1900-1901 and why. I commend Welsh’s book to you for that alone, though it has other merits too.

I wouldn’t expect Kevin Rudd to be in any hurry, or so I would conclude from what he said post-2020 Summit on the 7.30 Report a couple of days back.

KERRY OBRIEN: I notice one of the participants and author David Maher got one idea just listening at the summit opening to the national anthem, get rid of it was his idea, find a better one. Do you like Advance Australia Fair, do you think it does this nation justice as an anthem?
KEVIN RUDD: Look, the question of the Australian national anthem was settled quite a long time ago.
KERRY OBRIEN: You just don’t want to go there?
KEVIN RUDD: It’s fine.
KERRY OBRIEN: Does it stir you? When you have to stand as you do all the time listening to Advance Australia Fair and the words of Advance Australia Fair, does it stir you?
KEVIN RUDD: It does, and the reason it does is when you’ve got verses like “For those who come across the seas we’ve boundless plains to share” that that should be the resolve of any Australian Government, unlike the one we replaced which seemed to pull up the shutters when it came to our proper international obligations, particularly to refugees who found themselves in real strife. For reasons such as that I think the anthem says what we aspire to as a nation. I think Australians sing it and sing it with passion. When it comes to constructing the Australia of the 21st century I think there are bigger challenges ahead of us like fashioning the Australian republic in this area that you’re now talking about, than rewriting with a team of musicologists a new national anthem.
KERRY OBRIEN: The republic is hardly a new big idea. It’s already Labor policy, but purely pragmatic comply [SIC] do you really think the majority of Australians and the majority of people in Australian states are likely or will embrace a republic before the Queen’s reign comes to an end?
KEVIN RUDD: Hard to say is the answer to that one, Kerry. Remember, the republic referendum bit the dust less than a decade ago partly because the Republican side itself of the argument was split down the middle, direct elects as opposed to the Parliament appointing an Australian head of State. That’s why you’ve got to get it absolutely right. What I found impressive about the sentiment of the Australia 2020 summit was people’s desire overwhelmingly, I thought, for us to move to a republic and to become a republic. There was a sense of inevitability about that.

The Queen, who shows few signs of slowing down, will attain the Diamond Jubilee of her Coronation in 2013. However, someone born in 1926 can’t really be expected to go on for all that much longer.

I was, and remain, in favour of an appointment by a joint sitting of Parliament of some suitable eminent person, by the way, rather than direct election. That strikes me as the best way to retain the distance from party politics I think a Head of State will need if we are to preserve something that reflects the best of what we already have, and that best is considerable indeed.

It was all thoroughly debated ten years ago. You may review that here.

Back to Norman Davies. In 2001 he spoke in Sydney.

…I took up British history as a sideline, partly because, like many others, I was dismayed by the general decline of historical knowledge and education in Britain, and partly because of the ever-growing confusion about history and national identity. Very few people here, I suggest, would confuse ‘Australia’ with ‘New South Wales’. Yet many, many English people – and I mean the English – are complacent of the differences between ‘England’ and the ‘United Kingdom’ or between ‘the UK’ and ‘Great Britain’. They have never ever been taught the basic facts about the three Acts of Union – 15361707 and 1800 – and hence about the make-up of the British state in which they live. Far too many British citizens, let alone foreigners, treat ‘Britain’ and ‘England’ as interchangeable terms.

Sorry to say, the same sort of confusion can be met in Australia. The Centennial Publication, Why are we celebrating?, talks of Queen Victoria as ‘Queen of England’ – which she certainly was not. And, as I noticed myself last week, a telephone discount centre on Orchid Avenue in Surfers’ Paradise is offering cheap calls at 29c per minute to the UK and at 50c per minute to Scotland. I can assure you that no canny Scot would ever fall for that one!…

Australia and Britain

The world is changing fast. Britain has willingly surrendered a significant part of its sovereignty to the European Union. Australia is an independent nation that plays its full part in the life of the Asian and Pacific regions to which it belongs. One is fully entitled to ask in the circumstances whether the close links between Britain and Australia will survive.

My answer to that question would be in the affirmative, though not necessarily for the reasons which conservative advocates of the British link might prefer. For a start, most present-day Britons and most present-day Australians share the lot of being orphans of the late great Empire which will never return. For the foreseeable future, they are going to share a common language, and in large measure, a common kinship. Whatever new political or economic framework may emerge, this basic human legacy will remain. One shouldn’t forget that the USA chose to leave the British community before the First Fleet sailed. And yet, 220 years on the ties of the English-speaking world, which are not exclusively linguistic, continue to exert their influence.

And then, I would argue that a multicultural Australia will feel greater empathy for a multicultural Britain than if either of them had escaped the multicultural experience. What is more, the Eurodiversity of the Australian population – the presence of all those ex-Italians, ex-Greeks, ex-Germans, ex-Poles and others – can only help to lubricate relations with a Britain that is firmly installed in the European Union. If, as expected, the European Union enlarges in a few years time to encompass twenty or even twenty-five members, the influence in Australia of people descended from dozens of those same nationalities can only work for closer understanding.

Finally, I would argue strongly for the power of History. (He would, wouldn’t he?) In the late and unlamented Soviet Union it used to be said that, while the future was fixed, the past was always changing. In reality, though the future is always uncertain, the past can never be changed. Nothing will be able to alter the fact that Australia was born and matured in the British orbit. Nothing can budge the historical reality that in 1901, when the Commonwealth of Australia began its journey, it was part of that same great British family to which England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales also belonged. Hence, when the British monarchy has been pensioned off – as it surely will be*: when the UK itself has fallen apart – as it probably will do: when the very word ‘British’ has been consigned to the past – as it possibly may be: the memory will remain. The point will likely be made at Australia’s bi-centennial celebrations of 2101, and, who knows, at the tri-centennial celebrations of 2,201. In a world of growing globalisation, Australia will develop closer contacts with places all over the world. But only one place – not Rio, not Shanghai, not San Francisco – will remain the place from which the First Fleet sailed. And only one country can be remembered as the country by which that first constitution was granted.

Tomorrow is the big day

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It ain’t democratic but….

Very true. In some respects it is quite weird!

For the time being Australia is a constitutional monarchy like New Zealand and Canada. Our Head of State is not elected, and neither are the various Governors-General and Governors. But the governments are elected, whether Federal, State/Provincial or Local. Our SupremeCourts are not elected either, nor are judges and magistrates, or police commissioners or dog catchers…. Unlike the USA where everyone is elected and you end up with Donald Trump and some other donkeys we see all over the shop there — the book banners, the racists, the gun huggers….

So like E M Forster I say “Two Cheers for Democracy!” Yes, I am in favour of it.But our way actually works, even with an offshore King!

In truth — and I think the last referendum showed this as much as it showed John Howard’s cunning in manipulating the question — most Auatralians, I suspect, don’t really care.

Craig Foster, the head of the Australian Republican Movement, is an admirable choice.

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Mind you I think someone from the Australian Republican Movement with a wicked sense of humour has spiked the Australian Monarchist League by making Eric Abetz its spokesman! Then there is Australians for Constitutional Monarchy with the venerable Flint.But there are monarchist voices worth a listen:

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Coronations I have known…

A ceremony in which a monarch is crowned. Not always a happy event…. This guy was triggered by one:

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Sir William Walton’s music was wonderful in that version!

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He also wrote the Coronation March Orb and Sceptre and a seting of the Te Deum for the actual Coronation of Elizabeth ii.

I remember 1953!

Here is one of many things I at age 9 found exciting! Australia is home to one of the world’s best nuclear reactors. And in The Shire too! Cliffy Tanko and I spend some time scouring the Devil’s Back — a hill near we lived, overlooking the Woronora Valley — for Russian spies! The fun of being a Cold War Kid!

I am circled, and I think that is Cliffy on the right of the boy with the board. Maybe not. Could be 4th from the right in the second back row…

Certainly my Vermont Street neighbour Colin Dawson is second from the left in the front row. Colin is still with us; Cliffy passed away some years ago.

But this was still the reign of King George VI. In 1953 we were in 5A. We had a Queen by then.

Two years later I was no longer at Sutho Public but at Sydney Boys High, though at this time I don’t think I knew where the place was let alone that it would become so much a part of my life. There they were celebrating the Coronation. As was the whole country pretty much.

At Sydney Boys High

Of course we did not get to see the Coronation as Australia did not have TV, but it was on the wireless coming from the BBC no doubt via short wave.

The sound of short wave on YouTube

Yes, apparently BBC recently restored its short wave service! That is how we heard the Coronation. I seem to recall there was a public relay in the park by the old Ambulance Station in Sutho, with a band and fireworks. I was there. It was the first time I had ever heard this tune and it thrilled me then.

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The Sutho band may not have been quite as good… Or as big…

But for a kid who had that week been making Crown Jewels out of his Meccano set…

This was getting quite a bit of airplay around those days…

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Well, I did get to see the Coronation — at the Sutherland Odeon. I was in love…

This very film.

Music and blog stats for the First of the Month

Why not?

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Yes you have seen Michael Andreas before on this blog.

Who visited in April?

So in fact the best April in the past three years.

Music again — China and a budding Marcin on a talent show

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Very articulate too! He has a while to go before he rivals Poland’s Marcin but he’s doing OK eh!

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Where did my visitors come from and how did they get here?

Even a few from Russia and China!

On the left you see which individual posts were viewed most, the last two also being from April. That post on what might have happened to the Russian vlogger Daniil is a perennial! On the right you see the referrers.

Well, here we are with another month ahead!

I finish 15 years ago in May 2008.

Shire childhood, adolescence and early adulthood 3: 1959 – 1961

Posted on  by Neil

Recap of my family’s wandering thus far:

1. 1943-1952 Auburn Street SUTHERLAND
2. 1952-1955 Vermont Street SUTHERLAND (first time)
3. 1956-1958 Avery Avenue KIRRAWEE
4. 1959 Box Road, JANNALI
5. 1960-1961 Oyster Bay Road, COMO


Quite a lot more bush occupied much of that space back in 1959-1961, and my father was in some small measure one of those responsible for its going, being a real estate agent in Jannali and then Sutherland for much of that time, while my mother had for a while a dress shop in Jannali. Long story; I won’t go there.


At 17 I did my first practice teaching session at Jannali West Primary, over the line and up the hill from Jannali shops. In Jannali we lived above the shops in a flat that at least gave a good view of closely watched trains; in 60-61 we rented a house in Oyster Bay Road, and very leafy it was too. Dad had a Riley in those days though ours was black. He could use his carpentry skills on it too… The cat, which came with the house, had a habit of curling up inside; one day when Dad set off for Jannali in the morning, the cat, disturbed, went in panic for the highest point, the top of my father’s head, and sat there with its claws dug in. Fortunately Dad did not crash into anything and disburdened himself rather quickly. I think after that he made sure the car windows were closed when the car was in the car port….