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25 July 1986. Thought for the Week: "Increased means and increased leisure are the two civilisers of man
WHAT ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH?
By Eric D. Butler
South African Prime Minister, the late Dr. Verwoerd, correctly observed that it was intolerable for any self-respecting nation to remain in an association when other members of that association insisted on interfering in South Africa's internal affairs. As the South Africans were forced out, Prime Minister Menzies of Australia expressed grave doubts about the future of the Commonwealth. Ten years after the Queen expressed her hopes for the Commonwealth, it contained members who were showing little interest in a desire for "freedom and peace".
I discussed the subject of the Commonwealth with the late Sir Roy Welensky, in an interview with Sir Roy at his London Hotel in 1963. Welensky had been Prime Minister of the Central African Federation, consisting of what are now known as Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi, until the Federation was destroyed by what Welensky described as the treachery of British politicians. He was particularly scathing of the Conservatives, whom he said stabbed in the back, the Socialists more honestly stabbing in the chest. Welensky pointed out to me that although he did not have a drop of British blood in his veins, being of Polish and Jewish background, he was a passionate supporter of Britain and its institutions, particularly the Monarchy.
Sitting on the side of his bed in his
dressing gown, he said he feared for Britain and the Commonwealth
unless some formal rules were introduced, and went on to outline
his concept of a two tier Commonwealth with full membership
restricted to those who accepted the Crown, agreed to help
defend one another and who did not interfere in one another's
With the aid of the media, what we are now witnessing is the unleashing of the dark and destructive forces of international revolution. Media "reporting" concerning the role of the Queen has been criminally irresponsible. It would be surprising if the Queen was not "concerned" and expressed that concern to her British Prime Minister. But, as that outstanding authority on British constitutionalism, Mr. Enoch Powell, has pointed out, there can be no "constitutional crisis" in Britain for the simple reason that Prime Minister Thatcher is Her Majesty's first minister and advises the Queen.
As Mr. Powell correctly says, the best way to preserve the Commonwealth is to insist on the right of each individual member to conduct its own affairs in its own way, without attempted outside blackmail, as has been seen with the boycott of the Commonwealth Games. Generally overlooked is that Britain is merely hosting what are Commonwealth games. Those imposing a boycott are in effect boycotting their own games! The fact that member nations can at the last minute boycott the Commonwealth games without any penalty provides further evidence of the need for some formal rules concerning the Commonwealth.
The campaign against the British government is revealing of the humbug and pseudo-moralising of some of the nations boycotting the Edinburgh games. Then there is the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Sir Shridath Ramphal, who has been operating in his own special sickening style to involve the Queen in controversy with her own British government. Even more reprehensible is the role of Prime Minister Bob Hawke's hired man, Malcolm Fraser, the man who used Australian sportsmen and women for a window dressing boycott of the Olympic Games following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan while he continued to permit his wool to be sent to the Soviet.
Anyone even superficially informed about the realities of Africa, particularly Southern Africa, knows that an attempt to impose economic sanctions on South Africa would be economic suicide for Zimbabwe, Zambia and Bostwanna. Full-scale economic sanctions would produce horrendous conditions in South Africa's neighbours. The Western nations would be depriving themselves of vitally essential minerals. The Soviet would be delighted in more ways than one.
There will be an eventual day of reckoning as a result of the intensified revolutionary ferment sweeping the world. Australians might care to contemplate the future where, having permitted the Hawke government to give its support to a campaign which brings Commonwealth nations, not only into a campaign to interfere in the internal affairs of South Africa, but into a campaign of blackmail against the British government, and the Queen, they are inviting those responsible to mastermind a similar campaign interfere in Australia's internal affairs.
The Queen herself has said, "There is no law within a family which binds its members to think, or act or be alike. Surely it is this very freedom of choice and decision which gives exceptional value to friendship in times of stress or misunderstanding." The principle enunciated should be spelt out loudly at this critical time. I for one will not be upset if the Mugabes, the Kaundas and others of the same blackmailing ilk, find such a principle unacceptable and leave the Commonwealth - whatever that means. The Commonwealth would be smaller, but better. And there would be less countries to which Australian taxpayers would be called upon to send aid.
A report from Vancouver, Canada, reveals
that the family of Joshua Nkomo former terrorist in arms with
Robert Mugabe, have decided that it is safer to live in Canada
than in "liberated" Zimbabwe. In fact they say it was safer
under Ian Smith, and that conditions have deteriorated badly
under Mugabe. As members of the Matabele tribe, they and Joshua
are not highly regarded by Shona Mugabe. One of the Nikomo
sons is described as a Cuban trained guerrilla fighter - does
he anticipate some scope for his talents in Canada? - while
another of the family is going to train at the University
of British Columbia to be a "social worker."
Following a visit from American Federal Reserve Bank chairman Volcker on June 5th, Mexico's President de la Madrid, forced his Finance Minister Herzog to resign. Herzog had threatened the international debt merchants with a suspension of payments. The Mexican government is resisting demands that food subsidies be slashed. President de la Madrid fears that such a policy would push Mexico into the arms of the Soviet. A few days after Finance Minister Herzog's forced resignation came news of a big World Bank loan!
President Reagan's budget director, James Miller, predicts that the 1986 U.S.A. Budget deficit would reach a record level, the equivalent to $346 billion Australian. What do the "conservative" admirers of Ronald Reagan think of his continued use of Keynesian deficit financing? James Miller says that the reason for the predicted record deficit, is that "we've had some bad news". With the report that America's steel industry is going bankrupt because of cheaper steel imports, there is more bad news to come. There must be under present financial orthodoxy.
The Australian Jewish News of July 18th, reports that the Canberra Jewish Community has applied to the Human Rights Commission for a grant to cover the cost of producing educational booklets on Judaism and Jewish history. The same copy of The Australian Jewish News says that South Africa's revolutionary Bishop, Tutu, was given a standing ovation when he recently spoke to 1,200 members of Toronto's Jewish community. It was appropriate that Marxist singer Harry Belafonte accompanied and introduced Bishop Tutu.
Even allowing for exaggerations, it is certain that tens of thousands of Uganda's people have been massacred under the successive regimes of Amin, Obote and Okello. The killing continues, while large numbers are threatened with starvation on the northern borders, as British and other agencies are frustrated in their attempts to provide relief. The Uganda government is boycotting the Commonwealth games as a "moral" gesture of support for the campaign to force the British government to apply sanctions to South Africa. Presumably Uganda's leaders would prefer the blacks of South Africa reduced to the same level they have created in Uganda.
THAT 'AUSTRALIA ACT (REQUESTS) ACT'A Toowoomba actionist enquired of the Queensland State Attorney General & Minister for Justice (Mr. N.J. Harper) 'the precise situation now as a result of the above Act. The Queensland Minister set down the following, and this is of first importance:
"This Act which was passed in identical form by all Australian States was passed after a number of years of discussion by State governments of all political persuasions aimed at safeguarding the constitutional position of the States. "With reference to your specific questions, the legislation passed by the United Kingdom Parliament and the Commonwealth Parliament in consequence of the Australia Act (Requests) Act provides that, except when Her Majesty is personally present in a State, her powers and functions in respect of the State are exercisable by the Governor. When Her Majesty is personally present, she may exercise her powers and functions upon advice tendered by the Premier. This provision was inserted in the legislation at the request of Her Majesty.
"Nothing in the legislation affects the position of the Governor in relation to his acting as the 'legal protector of the people's rights without regard to party, race, colour or creed'. Provisions relating to referral of certain kinds of legislation to Her Majesty personally or relating to disallowance of legislation have been removed but these were not in any way related to the capacity of the Governor to act in the way to which you have referred. The cases in which these requirements and powers existed were not in any way concerned with such matters.
"The Act does not, in practical terms, increase the power of the Premier and Cabinet and does not make Queensland 'a republic in its own right without any ties to the Commonwealth of Australia.' "I am aware that there have been misconceptions about the nature of the 'residual links' exercise. However, you can rest assured that the decision to proceed with it was taken only after most careful and anxious consideration and after a thorough understanding had been reached of what the Commonwealth could do without the consent or cooperation of the States. "I am confident that the legislation now enacted and in force guarantees the safety of the State's fundamental constitutional institutions without weakening in any way the State's position vis a vis the Commonwealth or other States."
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