Monday, June 4, 2012

In the Family

With a tiny bit of embarrassment I will admit to being touched by this Julia Gillard led ceremony honoring the Queen.  

I used to support the idea of having an Australia Republic—breaking the ties with Momma England.   Then we went to London and I wanted to cry through the streets.  Take us back!  Take us back!

Of course that's just on an emotional tourist level.

But on a more intellectual level.....

I used to think making Australia a republic would be doing right by the Aboriginal Australians.   It would be another way of saying sorry. We're not proud of what our ancestors did when they came to this country. We're so not proud that we're going to break ties and start anew.  

But America broke official ties a long time ago.  As far as I know, Native Americans are marginalized as much as the Australian Aborigines.  And other non-white American groups have it rough as well.

Breaking ties with the UK won't fix the past, and I don't imagine it would do anything to help the present or the future.  

It's probably too late for American to come back into the family. We'll just be friends, I suppose.

But if I had a vote, I'd vote for Australia to stay in the fold.

I guess I'd be in the monarchist club then. Maybe.

The excessive celebration of the queen is a bit much.  Why give so much attention to a little old lady?  

But is it any more nuts than worshiping a deity that may or may not exist?  Or what about the worship of rock stars and movie stars? 

Many folks have their idols, and it's probably just part of the human experience.  

Anyway, Happy Birthday to the queen. 

Is that what we're celebrating?  Or is it her years as queen?

Let me go check......

Okay.   I found the website about it.  It's the celebration of her years as queen. Six decades.  

Lord Wiki says her rein began on February 6 1952.  She had her coronation on June 2, 1953.  So sixty years from that would be 2013.    

I guess it's the whole year that's celebrated?  

Or is the celebration about 1952?

Has it been going on since February?

I feel like it started just this week. That's when I started seeing it in the news. 

Okay. Yes.  I'm right. The Diamond Jubilee website says June 2-5 was the central weekend. 

Did they pick that weekend because that's when she had her coronation? Or is it a coincidence?

I'm guessing it wasn't a coincidence.    

It's also not just the one weekend. There's going to be other celebrations through out the year.   And the Diamond Jubilee DID begin on February 6 with something called Accession Day. Lord Wiki says that's the term used for the anniversary of the day someone new took over the throne.  


  1. There was a time when I thought of her as "our queen", but not any more.
    In practical terms, Australia and England parted their ways years ago.

    But she has been a model of common sense, goodwill and duty for 60 years, and has earned a lot of respect for that. It will be a hard act for anyone to follow.

  2. Fruitcake: When did you stop seeing her as "our queen"? I'm thinking that Australia and England parted ways before you were born.

    Well...I guess what happened in 1975 would have caused a further rift. Did that do it for you?

    Or was it something that happened in the past you weren't aware of until later?

  3. A very thought provoking question, Dina. When I was quite young we were still selling agricultural and dairy products to Britain. Radio and then TV were still dominated by BBC shows. A local news reader - Eric Pearce - was born in Oz but spoke with a "received pronunciation" accent [just had to google that to see if I remembered correctly]. At the pikchas the first thing on the screen was footage of the Queen riding side-saddle during the trooping of the colour... while we stood for the national anthem [god save the queen].
    In the late 60s we started singing God Bless Australia at school instead of god save the queen, the UK joined the EU and we had to find different export markets, and so on. I guess the rot started to set in once Bob Menzies retired.

    Not sure, but I think it was Gough who started a system of Australian honours to replace the traditional british “gongs” [twice a year people were knighted or whatnot for services to the community]. I think it was also during his time the legend COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA on our currency notes changed to AUSTRALIA [subtle little change, that]. It might even have been during his time that Australians lost the right to appeal to the [british] house of lords if action in our own high court failed.

    For all their bungling, Gough’s government brought Australia out of the dark ages with lots of overdue changes. I was outraged by the events of 11/11/75, but I think that was when I first decided we should elect our leader separately; that the Westminster system of government is ludicrous. The idea that an elected house of parliament had to answer to a queen with no REAL power and an upper house of hereditary upper class twits no one voted for is not my idea of democracy.
    The queen would have handled the dismissal differently – perhaps achieving the same outcome but leaving gough’s dignity intact.

    I have a lot of affection and respect for the lady, but it’s the person I respect, not the position. Just imagine if the monarch was someone much harder to respect, wot!

  4. Fruitcake:

    There's definitely a separation; but it sounds like it's been gradual.

    I wonder if something like 1975 could happen again. Have things progressed since then?

  5. It's always possible, but a bit unlikely at the moment.
    The government must regularly pass "supply bills", to draw on public money to meet its expenses, honour contracts pay public servants etc.
    Constitutionally, these bills can only originate in the lower house, i.e. the house of Representatives where the government is formed, PM chosen etc.

    In 1975 Malcolm Fraser's opposition had control of the senate. Gough's team were caught getting involved in some dodgy borrowing so they could keep moving towards their vision of utopia. The senate kept refusing to pass the supply bills, in order to force an election. The GG [kerr] didn't really have much choice but to call an election. The shock was he made Malcolm Fraser a caretaker PM, even though the party with a majority in the lower house is supposed to be "the" government.

    I suspect if Lizzie lived in Canberra she would have talked Gough into calling an election for BOTH houses, so he could save face. People were dead sick of voting, and tend not to give control of both houses at once to any mob.

    The senate is currently mainly conservative, though a couple of Greens hold the balance of power from July 2011. That's why Labor were rushing to get their legislation passed before the composition of the senate changed in July 2011.
    It would not be enough, really, that Julia is unpopular because so is Tony. Although the deals with independents that currently give Julia a majority vote in the lower house might fall through, the independents would then probably just go over to the darker side and the government would change hands that way, without an election.

    Tony has been critical of the way Julia negotiated control, and keeps calling for an election. The interesting question is would he still want an election if the independents decided to vote with him?
    They all go back on their word all the time "in the interests of the country" or because of "unforeseen circumstances".

    And I think this time people are not just sick of voting, they are sick of the lot of them. I have no respect for any of them, but the idea of Joe Hockey being treasurer fills me with terror.

    I think if we elected our leader separately [in much the same way as your president], there would be a lot more stability and certainty is good for the economy. Independents might still trade votes [i.e. I'll vote for this if you vote for that] but they would not have to make a huge, blanket commitment to support one group over another.

    When Julia sold the gambling reforms down the river, Wilkie had to choose between supporting Labor or supporting the Coalition. As an independent he has enormous power, but really has none at all.

    Anyway, I assume I've totally confused you now, so I'll climb down... soap boxes are only cardboard replicas of what they used to be.

  6. Fruitcake:

    I'm a little confused, but I understand some stuff.

    I think it might be a grass-is greener-on-the-other side type thing.

    I don't see the benefits in us voting for our president...vs you guys voting for a party.

    And I like that Australian Parliament has a place for independents and smaller parties.

    America is really a two party system; and there's no hope or voice for alternatives.

    Politics in both countries is pretty ugly. Personally though, I prefer the Australian way. I don't think it's MUCH better than America's; but I do think it's a little bit better.

  7. Perhaps not so much a case of the grass is greener as a case of fewer noxious weeds on the other side?

  8. Fruitcake,

    Yep. That image works for me.