Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Fogey's Lament

It has been a while since this Young Fogey has had the time to be able to sit down and flesh out a few lines for this blog, but I fortunately now have the opportunity to do so now.

It is with deep regret that, Australia's current Prime Minister, and former head of the Australian Republican Movement, Malcolm Turnbull. Announced on 2 November 2015, that Her Majesty had approved his request to amend the letters patent of the Order of Australia. This would see the removal of Knights and Dames, once more from the Order of Australia. After they had been reintroduced on the advice of his predecessor the monarchist Tony Abbott. These amendments to the Order would subsequently be gazetted on 22 December 2015.

The premise for such action, was on the basis that cabinet (many of whom now reflect the republican views of their leader, no doubt in the hope of further promotion) considered that the prefix title of Sir or Dame was no longer appropriate in todays modern Australia. The term anachronistic was also used. However such beliefs regarding prefix titles being anachronistic, do not seem to extend to their own use of the title "Honourable" which members of the Federal Executive Council are entitled to be referred to as.

Since we are now in a position whereby honours that confer a prefix title are for the time no longer part of the Australian Honours System (outside the Royal Prerogative, that is today rarely if ever exercised). This young fogey would seek to draw attention towards another little used honour, that could, and should, once more become available to Australian citizens.

The Order of the Companions of Honour was instituted in June 1917 at the same time as the Order of the British Empire and is sometimes referred to as the junior Order of Merit. An Orderwithin the Royal Prerogative, which Australians the Honourable John Howard OM, AC, SSI and Lord May of Oxford OM, AC, FRS are members. The Order of the Companions of Honour bestows no title upon the recipient. Though they may use the post-nominal letters CH. The order which had originally consisted of just fifty members, would later enlarged to the present number of 65 in total, with 45 members from the UK, seven from Australia, four from New Zealand and seven from other Commonwealth nations.

As a Commonwealth Realm, The Prime Minister of Australia has the authority to advise Her Majesty regarding appointments in relation to the Australian quota. Of which there are currently six positions vacant. The Rt Honourable Doug Anthony AC, CH, PC the former Deputy prime Minister being the only living Australian recipient.

By once again making nominations to such a prestigious Commonwealth Order. Australia would have the ability to recognise outstanding achievement of its artists, writers, musicians, scientists and politicians at a Commonwealth level. The Commonwealth being a body, that regardless of whether one be a republican or monarchist, is considered an important institution for the nation to remained involved with. By exercising Australia's right to make nominations for membership of the Order, we as a nation would have the opportunity to avoid the politically sensitive dramas,b that have come to be associated with the topic of Knights and Dames. Now we can only wait and see who will have the good sense, to once again make a nomination for membership, of the Order of Companions of Honour.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Knighthood for His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh

It has been some time, due to study and work commitments since the Young Fogey Down Under has had time to sit down and punch out a few lines to those who are kind enough to read my articles. But invigorated by a number of new followers, plus the reactions of the media to todays announcement of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh being appointed a Knight within the Order of Australia within the 2015 Australia Day Honours List I decided the time was right.

His Royal Highness was initially appointed to the Military Division of the Order of Australia back in 1988 by the Labor Hawke Government. And over the years, has also had his service recognised not only by all those major Realms such as Canada and New Zealand who have since introduced their own honours systems, since departing from the so called "Imperial System". But also from dozens of other nations both Monarchy and Republic alike. This includes around twenty one Orders that bestow the grade of Knighthood or its equivalent.

Much of the commentary today, unfortunately has been far from informed. Including such misleading statements, that HRH had received the nations highest honour. When in fact the AK sits at the position of sixth within the Order of Precedence (The Victoria Cross of course being the highest), and ignoring the fact that the Order of Australia has a long history of being bestowed upon those who do not reside within our nations shores. Some recipients such as Nelson Mandela or General David Petraeus have had far more tentative links to Australia, than His Royal Highness. Who, not only serves as patron to numerous Australian charities, heads the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme, serves as Colonel in Chief to the Royal Australian Mechanical and Electrical Engineers and Australian Army Cadets as well as holding five star rank across all threes services of the Australian Defence Force. But, and what is perhaps more poignant served as consort to our Queen for what what is almost sixty three years.

Despite this service, today the Australian political class, encouraged by an enabling media, lined up to take a baseball bat, or perhaps more appropriately a cricket bat to the announcement to of His Royal Highnesses Award. In doing so, not only have they revealed themselves as totally ungracious human beings, but shown a flaw in the Australian character. When former Prime Minister John Howard was appointed to the Order of Merit or the Presidential Medal of Freedom did we hear the citizens of the United Kingdom or America respectively go in to uproar. Likewise when Labor Politicians have received Knighthoods from Thailand or Italy did those countries politicians and media display such undignified behaviour? No they did not, and so here we come to realise that todays reaction has been one, that has done not only us as a nation little credit. But also in doing so, we have ignored all those who today should have been celebrated for their service, but instead have been overshadowed by a media and political storm.

Yet The Young Fogey Down Under, does not shy away from the fact, that it's possible things could have been handled differently. With such a small annual quota, the Prime Minister in the opinion of this humble blogger, could have considered appointing one other Australian resident as either a Knight or Dame within the Order. And making His Royal Highness as an Extra Royal Knight.  Preferably waiting until the Queens Birthday Honours List (though due to concerns with age of the Duke I acknowledge this may have been a factor in not waiting).

In ending this blog I wish you all a Happy Australia Day for 2015, and congratulate both our Knights of the Order of Australia and all those who today were amongst the names on this Australia Day Honours List. And of course to a friend who discovered his unit has been granted the Meritorious Unit Citation for service in the Middle East.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Case For Knighthoods in Australia


When Prime Minister Abbott called a press conference last week, there was little hint to what would be announced, was it new information in the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines MH370, speculation amongst the Canberra Press Gallery was rife.

The Prime Minister approached the podium and soon all was apparent, Knights and Dames within the Order of Australia had returned, the first appointments being outgoing Governor General Quentin Bryce AC, CVO and incoming Governor General Peter Cosgrove AC, MC. Instantly if one believed those from the opposition benches, the press and some commentators, 21st century Australia had somehow been transported to a feudal era where recipients of these so called Imperial Honours would patrol their outback estates upon a trusty steed, with his Lady and the local peasantry all forced to pay homage, or as other would have it the Prime Minister was awaiting to bestow it upon mining magnates or former politicians, there were even suggestions from some that he secretly coveted the honour himself. Sadly even those who were prepared to at least discuss the matter in more civil tones were often speaking from a position of ignorance, spreading misinformation to an already ill-informed public.

What the Prime Minister had announced was that the Grade of Knight and Dame within the Order of Australia would be reintroduced, to be bestowed upon those Australians primarily who had not sort public office. There could be no question of following the New Zealand example of also applying this to Companions of the Order of Australia, as unlike New Zealand whose Companions had previously been Knight/Dame Companions, before the Labour Governments reforms of the Honour System under Prime Minister Helen Clarke, this had never been the case in Australia. We would revert to the pre 1986 position of the Order of Australia consisting of five grades the AK, AC, AO, AM and OAM.

Many of the critics either deliberately or through ignorance suggested that this was an Imperial Honour, which if the case would mean appointments would be in The Order of the British Empire, or the Order of St Michael and St George for example. Be assured this is an Australian Honour within the order of Australia. In fact honours such as Knighthoods despite what some may lead us to think, are not confined purely Britain at all. Many countries both Monarchies and Republics alike such as Thailand, Italy and France bestow such an honour (Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove holds both a French and Papal Knighthood) and whilst Mr Shorten has pointed out his party opposes such honours and titles, it would appear that this does not extend to accepting foreign honours, being no better illustrated than the acceptance by Whitlam, Hawke and Keating all former Labor Prime Ministers of foreign Knighthoods and in the case of every Labor member who has ever been admitted to the Federal Executive Council they accept the title of The Honourable which they hold for life. All the while they hypocritically oppose the Queen of Australia offering an internationally recognisable honour to Australians, and prevent our citizens deciding for themselves whether they will accept or decline such an offer.

This is truly the challenge for the Australian Labor Party in a Liberal Democracy. Surely it is up to the recipient to decide for themselves whether they feel comfortable accepting such an honour, rather than having the values of Mr Shorten or the ALP Caucus thrust upon them. For Monarchists we must now hope that any new appointments to the grade of Knight/Dame of the Order of Australia are of the highest calibre, so that Knighthoods remain an institution within our Honours System, and all Australians may have confidence in that system, and stand up and reject the ridiculous arguments of those who seek to destroy our traditions.        

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bombing of Darwin 19th Feb 1942

Today the 19th of February 2012 at 10.00am marks the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia by the Japanese military. The attack was planned to prevent any response from Australia for their invasion of Timor. A total of 242 aircraft flying from aircraft carriers and bases in the Netherland East Indies caused significant damage during the two wave attack that day dropping 114620kgs of ordinance the first lasting 40 minutes the second some 25 minutes. The casualty list that day has often been disputed with official figures stating 243 killed and 3-400 wounded however unofficial numbers for the dead have been as high as 1000 though most believe its roughly double the official toll. 20 military aircraft were destroyed and 8 ships at anchor were lost and the RAAF airfields destroyed.

Today we remember those who lost their lives in the first ever attack on the Australian mainland and those who fought on in the defence of their homeland and opposing tyranny in the Pacific.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Return of Pomp and Pageantry

Those of you who are regular readers of A Young Fogey Down Under will recall a recent post in regard to the slow destruction of many of the ceremonial traditions here in Australia well this week a counter blow has been struck by those who value their heritage and history. This in the form of the new speaker to the Australian Federal Parliament The Honourable Peter Slipper.

 Mr Speaker has decided that the Tradition of the speaker wearing ceremonial dress should be restored, this in the form of a QC gown and jacket, it has even been rumoured that he has flirted with the idea of donning the full-bottomed wig, which detractors have said cant be done as its on display at the Museum of Democracy obviously they have never heard they can be bought through Ede and Ravenscroft. The last speaker to do so was Sir William Snedden who retired as speaker on the 4th of Feb 1983. Since then there have been many variations of dress with speakers in later years wearing a simple academics gown to the last speaker the Honourable Harry Jenkins simply wearing a suit.

The move by the Speaker has not been without controversey with a section of the press covering the front pages of their tabloids with caricatures etc however this has not deterred Mr Slipper who has announced that once  a week he will lead the formal procession of Speaker with his Sergeant at Arms through areas viewable to the public. This has not occured in the new parliament building outside of the opening of parliament after every election(roughly every four years) the Speaker and the Sergeant at Arms currently enter the chamber through a side door from the speakers office. While the press have labelled the Speaker  an egotist those of us who seek to protect our traditions know that the speaker is simply reintroducing those  which have been abolished by the true egotists those custodians of the office of speaker who have trashed centuries of traditions by removing bit by bit the symbols and customs of that office.

So this Young Fogey would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the new speaker on his appointment and his decision to restore a little history and colour into our parliament. Lets hope it is only the beginning of things to come.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The 6th of February Accession Day

On this day sixty years ago HRH Princess Elizabeth became our Queen and whilst around the globe there will be much rejoicing for Her Majesties achievement of sixty years of unblemished faithful service one can not help but feel that Her Majesty views such a day with a heavy heart. As becoming Queen could only result from the the death of her much loved father and our King. A King who had the crown thrust upon him in unfortunate circumstances but set the standard of service which his daughter would follow. We the people of the Realms are truly fortunate for their dedicated service. In this jubilee year let us all partake in the celebrations which will take place throughout the Commonwealth of nations and celebrate the achievement of our Queen.
But on this day let us remember King George VI may he have eternal peace.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Our Loss of Tradition

In recent years a cultural war has been taking place in Australia often unnoticed to the general population, this war has been fought between traditionalists and that group who like to style themselves progressives. Now progressives unfortunately arn't always sure why they are opposing the traditions that have stood us in good sted often since the early years of white settlement of our continent usually presenting tired cliches about the modern world and the need for change,  But  being the ideologues that they are they believe that any change must be good  often even when the evidence blatantly points to the contrary or just simply would have no impact what so ever an excellent example of change for changes sake . Now traditionalists are always stereotyped by the progressives as the old fogey character longing for the certainty of yesterday frightened of the modern world. However the facts couldnt be further from the truth, traditionalists are neither stuck in the past nor frightened of the future they simply have the common sense to know that human beings throughout the world have always had traditions and rituals as the bedrock of their society, even whilst at the forefront of modern living. These traditions and rituals keep us in touch with where we came from, subtle reminders of the past whilst dealing with the issues of the day. Traditions also sometimes have a more purposeful objective lending dignity to events that otherwise would not in themselves seem of importance or as an example in  our courts  the robes and wigs whilst an anachronism to some, actually serve to give those wearing them a sense of authority(so often labelled by progressives as intimidation) thus assisting them to perform their duties and with the respect their office deserves.
What is certain is that the culture war will continue and progressives will continue to seek to minimalise or destroy what traditions and rituals we have here in a country where the phrase "we dont have many traditions" is all to often uttered. And it is up to us the traditionalists to be vigilant.