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ACM Home arrow Convenor's Column arrow Mr. Whitlam regrets

Mr. Whitlam regrets Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Thursday, 06 November 2008

Affirmation Day, the 6th day of November,  recalls that day in 1999 when Australians defied the political and media establishment and overwhelmingly affirmed the very essence of their Constitution, an indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown. 

To mark the occasion, Senator the Honourable George Brandis SC, the Shadow Attorney- General, delivered the 2008 Neville Bonner Oration to a capacity crowd in the "Strangers' Room" in Parliament House , Sydney. 

 We knew it was a capacity crowd when the manager of this now private sector outsourced restaurant was unable to comply with our request to accommodate any  late registrations. But those  were able to attend were overwhelmingly impressed with the address, which we will publish shortly.

  It was a coincidence that in another part of Parliament House, a new book on  former Prime Minister EG Whitlam was being launched.

"There is a great deal of affection for the Queen in Australia because her relations with the Commonwealth and the states have been impeccable," Gough Whitlam informed The Sydney Morning Herald’s Tony Stephens on 31 October, 2008.

"I agree that there should be a referendum on the republic, but that it should be held after the demise of the Crown," he added.

This is almost a decade late. In 1999, Mr Whitlam joined with his foe, the man who brought him down in 1975, Malcolm Fraser to campaign against his Sovereign.

They appeared together in  a television advertisement in which Mr Whitlam used his 1972 campaign theme. “It’s Time, Malcolm” he said, meaning time for the politicians’ republic.

Mr Whitlam seems now to regret this. We don't; his appearance  with Mr Fraser in that advertisement probably persuaded many undecided voters to vote No. 

Thank you Messrs. Fraser and Whitlam. Your treachery had its own reward.

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 .

After The Queen addressed a function in Parliament House Canberra in 2006, She went across to speak to a gaggle of all living former Australian Prime Ministers, except Paul Keating, all clustering to meet Her.

I thought at the time how gracious Her Majesty is. Every one of them had campaigned against her in 1999.

I reflected on this again during the course of the address by Senator Brandis who is the Shadow Attorney -General, the Honourable George Brandis SC.


Senator Brandis was alone at the 2020 Summit in voting against a proposal that we become a republic.

The assembly in Sydney also joyfully celebrated the coming 60th Birthday of the Prince of Wales. 

This was  marked by a stirring rendition of the hymn, God Bless the Prince of Wales  by Miss Anna Downsley, who had earlier led them in both the National Anthem and the Royal Anthem.

 

 
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