Last time I addressed the Australian Monarchist League, there was a collective drawing in of breath that nearly sucked my speech notes off the lectern. I started my speech by saying that by instinct I am a republican. The rest of my contribution must have been more acceptable as I’ve been invited back and have the honour of serving on our National Council. But allow me to contextualise my comment which I confess was designed to shock. In short, if I was to set up from scratch the governance arrangements of a brand new country, I would not have a monarchy. But of course, Australia was never set up from scratch. We were established by the United Kingdom under the Crown and that is a system of government that has served us exceptionally well and still does over 200 years later.
While the recent release of The Crown on Netflix has inspired a new wave of support for the Constitutional Monarchy, it is important that we as Constitutional Monarchists never rest on our laurels or take a backward step in promoting and supporting our system of government.
We never know where the next threat or attack against our well-functioning institutions might come from and therefore we need to be eternally vigilant. Defending the institutions is a great service to our country and people. And in the lead of the defence of the Constitutional Monarchy is our Chairman Philip Benwell whose unrelenting advocacy deserves our admiration and thanks. Especially so when those of us who do so are subjected to such an unrelenting stream of criticism from some elements in the media.
In Australia and around the world, we have long had self-appointed elites in our societies, but never before have they been so vocal and sought to enforce their world view in such an intemperate manner on everyone else. These people come in many forms but they are inevitably all from the left, doing and saying whatever they can to promote left-wing ideals and, more concerningly, shouting down anyone who dares provide a contrary view.
They use the guise of ‘tolerance’ and glibly label people as being (insert word of choice) ‘phobic’ in ugly attempts to force their views onto everyone and ham-fistedly silence opponents. Sadly they are aided and abetted by elements in the media which have taken the bait hook, line and sinker. But thankfully the common sense of the people is overwhelmingly rejecting this approach – leading to what we are told by these same elements as “shock outcomes”.
Two key recent examples are Brexit in the United Kingdom and the election of Donald Trump as President – two events that, if you believed these self-appointed elites, would be the end of the world.
Let me first turn to Brexit, where we had every former Prime Minister, major economists, scientists, community leaders, journalists and commentators signing on to the “Remain” campaign. They were vocal and they were vicious. They were backed by the sitting Prime Minister and Opposition Leader.
On the other hand, the “Leave” campaign was backed by a handful of relatively junior politicians who mounted a grass-roots campaign based on the simple yet fundamentally compelling principle that the UK should control its own destiny.
And despite all the howling and the ‘assured’ rejection of Brexit, there was a clear win for the “Leave” campaign something which saw the resignation of a Prime Minister resulting in a new Cabinet that has sought to better reflect the will of the people. And it’s interesting that this will of the people has seen a centre-right government shift more towards the right rather than seeking to constantly embrace new left-wing ideas under the auspices of ‘modernising’ and other such euphemisms.
In the United States, we were told that Donald Trump would be a diabolical choice and wreak havoc on the free world and would never win. Again, many major commentators and the political elite wrote Trump off weeks ago and as recently as Monday there was a sense in the US that the election would simply be a formality for Hillary Clinton to storm to the White House on a huge wave of public sentiment supporting the Obama legacy and left-wing policies such as Obamacare.
We were told that now President-elect Trump is a ‘racist’ and a ‘bigot’ who would take America backwards. I found this particularly interesting when looking at what was being said in the final weeks. President Obama said that a Trump victory would be “an insult to (my) legacy”. Secretary Clinton was at pains to encourage people to vote for her because of her sex with her slogans including “I’m with Her” yet the alleged “narcissist” Donald Trump wasn’t talking about himself but about the real issue – America. “Let’s make America great again” he said. He told the American people he wanted to put “America First”.
But despite the commentators, the polls, the media and the self-appointed elite, the American people supported now President-elect Trump. And when you look at the results, it is clear that President-elect Trump inspired a whole wave of support from regional America – people who felt like they had been forgotten by the political class of Washington and left behind.
And in both the Brexit and US Presidential votes, there was an almost immediate and so pathetically predictable reaction from the self-appointed elites that the people got it wrong. That these democratic votes should be ignored or recast is fundamentally anti-democratic. In the United Kingdom, matters have been taken to court to try to thwart the will of the people and stop the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union. In America, we had commentators saying that the result must have been because people were misogynistic – not because they thought President Trump might do a better job or that Secretary Clinton would be even worse. We even witnessed people marching through New York condemning the democratic result. This outrageous behaviour is a direct product of the elites who arrogantly believe they know better than the people. Chatting amongst themselves and convincing each other is no substitute for actually talking to and hearing the real people.
Sadly, our strong border protection policies do not protect Australia from these similar anti-democratic sentiments. From an Australian perspective, self-appointed elites have also been on display, most recently in the marriage debate, of which Mia Freedman is a prime example. This is the same Mia Freedman who said:
Here’s what I hate about the idea of a plebiscite on same-sex marriage… The thought that LGBTI Australians will have to endure a government funded campaign by homophobes masquerading as ‘traditionalists’ who will use words like “unnatural” and “won’t someone think of the children” to stoke fear and hatred in our community.
And, in an interview she is reported as follows:
Mia encourages people to remember that everyone is a human being and to respect those who share your environment.
Sanctimoniously she then says:
“I think you have to look at what you say and how you say it.”
Yet, despite these self-serving self-descriptors designed to portray herself as super politically correct, tolerant and accepting, when she discovered that a member of my staff is gay her first thought was to Tweet out that he must suffer from a mental illness. This example is just one of literally hundreds of the ugly vitriolic flow of hypocrisy that we endure in the marriage debate from the self-appointed tolerance police.
And it’s interesting that people on my side of the debate (the “No” case) were happy to go to the people and give them a direct say in a plebiscite. Yet it is the activists for a change who assert they are reflective of public sentiment who are so vehement in their opposition to giving the people a say. Perhaps Brexit and Trump show us – of that which they are afraid – that their views might be shown up as inconsistent with the will of the people?
In our own Australian polity, we have seen a key example of this less than 20 years ago when all the elites were on one side and the public were lined up on the other. Of course I am talking about the referendum to become a republic.
I recall early in the campaign when a few others and I sought to travel around Tasmania advocating the “No” case. We were told that we were ‘out of touch’, that the polls were clear and of course the favourite non-argument of the left ‘that we would be on the wrong side of history’.
Again, while the self-appointed elites were busy putting the case on television and rolled out celebrities – Clinton-like – and every major news outlet hectoring for the “Yes” campaign, our grassroots campaign was a huge success. The people overwhelmingly voted in favour of our constitution. They voted in favour of our constitutional monarchy and for our system of government and saw through the glib statements and celebrity endorsements from the other side. Why the elites delude themselves into thinking that people who learn and repeat other people’s lines will somehow influence their fellow citizens highlights their contempt for our fellow citizens.
We now have a growing trend in Australia and around the western world where the very busy elites and left-wing commentators are becoming more and more vocal and seek to swamp the airwaves and twittersphere but that does not make them more representative of community sentiment. Indeed, it seems the more shrill they are the less in touch they are. And that is something we should always remember and from which we should take great heart, comfort and encouragement.
Be assured, people will embrace common-sense - they will reject labels in favour of good policy. For instance, while the left label anyone who supports strong border protection policies and freedom of speech as a ‘racist’, the public overwhelmingly support those policies.
Similarly, anyone who supports the institution of marriage is labelled as a ‘dinosaur’, a ‘bigot’ or a ‘homophobe’. Yet most Australians are rightly concerned about the consequences of change on children and freedom of thought and conscience not to mention religion.
And while anyone who supports the Constitutional Monarchy is ‘outdated’ and ‘stopping us from reaching our potential’, the people back our constitution because they know it works.
The principal lesson from all this is that we should never allow ourselves to be bullied by the media and the self-appointed political elites over good public policy. For the AML as a grass-roots community group it means we should robustly put our case because we speak for the silent majority.
The Culture War
Let me turn to a vital issue for the future of our nation – that of our culture and what we stand for as a nation and this bizarre trend where we should be politically correct apologists for almost anything and everything rather than be thankful of who we are as a nation and the achievements of our forebears throughout history.
For instance, this trend towards acknowledging the traditional owners at the start of speeches and the culture of our indigenous people, about which I’m somewhat agnostic, yet never daring to acknowledge our own elders, our own culture and our own history – including our Judaeo-Christian heritage which gave us freedom, abolition of slavery, democracy and the rule of law, to mention a few of the many benefits.
As Australians we have a lot for which to be thankful, both indigenous and newly arrived. We are genuinely seen as the most free and democratic nation in the world (all those boat people can’t be wrong). So why are we constantly apologising, rather than being thankful?
Of course there have been moments in our history where if we knew then what we know now, things wouldn’t have been done or would have been done differently. That is as true for us as individuals, families, communities as it is for every society, culture and nation. I think a far better approach is to learn from our past and move forward as a united country – not constantly seeking to apologise for every perceived shortcoming or to group or define everyone by a particular characteristic, be it their sex, race or sexuality which of themselves are never the complete make-up of the individual person.
Another example is in relation to the issue of sex. I think it makes good sense that we do more to encourage women into senior executive positions in business and into the Parliament. In my time as Employment Minister, I was pleased to have had one of the strongest track records in government for appointing women – not based on sex but on merit. But I’ve found it passing strange that when we look for female role-models or women to celebrate on International Womens Day, the commentariat virtually never point to the Queen as someone who has done more for the advancement of women in modern times than almost anyone else.
Not only has Her Majesty provided stability in times of great uncertainty, she has led her Commonwealth with great distinction. And by not making her sex an issue or carrying a chip on her shoulder, Her Majesty has demonstrated that hard work and commitment earn you far more respect than demanding that people make way and artificially promote you simply because of your sex.
Her Majesty’s example and her service should be put front and centre as THE key example of servant leadership for all – regardless of sex – well into the future.
Let me briefly refer to Her Majesty’s servant leadership – an aspect which I personally find inspirational. An aspect which lies at the very heart of our Constitutional Monarchy and something we didn’t witness in the US Presidential election – in case we need a republican comparison. More important than her actual coronation was a sacred, non-broadcast ceremony where all vestiges of Her Majesty’s royalty were removed and she committed herself not to be served but to give sacrificial service to her people.
Friends, there is a lot from which we can take great heart but it is vital that people who are passionate about the values and ideals we have as a nation stand up and defend those institutions that have served us so exceptionally well.
While you might get attacked by the elites in the process, be assured that the silent majority are with us.
Thank you for what you do in being genuine patriots for our nation and be assured that our views are overwhelmingly shared by people right around Australia.