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15 July 1994. Thought for the Week: "To change society, the imagination and the will must be fired, but in a money starved society the imagination is devitalised and the will is sapped. To revive the faculty of resolute imagination economic-social conditions must be changed, but to change them, to get rid of their present drugging influence, requires resolute imagination. Without will there is no change; without change the will lies drugged."
Gorham Munson in Aladdin's Lamp (1945)
PRINCE CHARLES AND THE FUTURE OF THE MONARCHY
by Eric D. Butler
The basic commonsense and decency of most people has been reflected in the wave of public support for Prince Charles following the television programme. The Prince came across as a man who understood the importance of duty concerning his position as heir to the Throne, and he made no secret of the anguish he had suffered because of his marriage breakdown. He made no attempt to apportion blame, merely referring to what now is clearly obvious: that his background and that of Princess Diana were so different.
His comments concerning the media served to confirm the view of those observers who said that any chance of the marriage being successful was damned by much of the media. Interviewer Jonathan Dimbleby says that his interview with the Prince was a "Warts and all" one. "The Prince saw a working version of the programme a couple of weeks ago. He sucked his teeth here and there inevitably, but he believes in people's freedom to do what they want. At no point did he say you must not film this or drop that."
Obviously the most painful part of the interview, producing the biggest headlines, concerned the question of whether the Prince had been faithful to his wife. The answer was clear: he had been faithful until the time that he realised that the marriage had irretrievably broken down. Yes, he had then committed adultery. He made no attempt to excuse himself. The modern Pharisees have of course seized on this admission to ask the hypocritical question, "Does this not prove that Prince Charles is not fit to become King?" If strict standards of moral purity were to be applied to all applicants for public office, how many would pass such a test? Church leaders who condemn Prince Charles have no difficulty in urging that compassion should be shown - as of course it should - to homosexuals.
The Dimbleby interview did bring out the fact that Prince Charles is a deep and thoughtful man. He has shown considerable courage on a number of major issues, even directing attention to the question of whether the special position of the Church of England should not be reconsidered. As C.H. Douglas has pointed out, there is a vast difference between the Church of England, and the Church in England. The independence of the Church has been undermined by making it virtually a creature of the State. Prince Charles has raised other important questions concerning the future of Britain.
There is little doubt that Prince Charles is the best-informed and most thoughtful Heir to the Throne produced for hundreds of years. He does not see the Monarchy as some inflexible institution, but as one, which must grow in keeping with unfolding events. This was made clear in his television documentary. But while supporting change, he also stresses the importance of stability and continuity. He comes across as a balanced man.
Having sat through the Charles television interview, I was more convinced than ever that he is a remarkable man, one who has made up his own mind on some fundamental questions. He is determined to fulfill his responsibilities as heir to the Throne. Australians, who turn against the institution of Constitutional Monarchy because of what they perceive to be an unforgivable moral act, are depriving themselves of the opportunity to obtain the type of public service and leadership being denied them by their political party hacks. I am not surprised that the Charles television documentary has seen the British public uniting behind him.
ABORIGINAL LAND FUND CAUSES FURTHER FRICTION
by David Thompson
How is the Land Fund to be administered? Many
Aboriginal groups fear that income from the Fund will be administered
through the Aboriginal Land Councils - some of the most radical Aboriginal
organisations, from which pressure for an Aboriginal State is coming.
For this reason, some Aborigines are against the Aboriginal Land Fund,
as they fear the influence of the Land Councils.
The Aboriginal Councils have been a regular target of Queensland's Auditor-General, and a general "culture of unaccountability" prevails, according to a Queensland Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee. If this is true in other States, there is every chance that the billions of dollars to go into the new Land Fund could be wasted or stolen.
THE A.T.S.I.C. ELECTIONS
Part of the problem of accountability in financial matters is the result of almost complete political unaccountability of many Aboriginal "representatives". The 1993 elections for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (A.T.S.I.C.) demonstrate the problem, and we recall the Member for Wide Bay, Mr. Warren Truss, detailing the election results.
From an estimated 147,500 Aboriginal and Islanders eligible, 573 Regional Councillors were to be elected to A.T.S.I.C. According to Electoral Commission figures, only 45,820 voted, and of these votes, nearly 6,000 were rejected, and another 2,000 were declared informal. According to National Party M.P. Mr. Truss, the voter turnout fluctuated widely, with about 8.5 percent turnout in Sydney, and an amazing 106.2 percent at Mornington.
In the electorate of Nhulunby South in the Northern Territory, 489 out of an estimated 845 voters actually voted. 477 of these votes were rejected, and two were ruled informal. This means that the four A.T.S.I.C. Councillors elected for this region were elected with a total of 10 votes. Three other regions (Brisbane, Roma and Rockhampton) elected 54 Councillors on woeful voter turnouts, with a high proportion of rejected or invalid votes; each Councillor was elected on around 78 votes. The cost of the "election" was $4 million, which amounted to over $100 for every vote received - many of which were 'rejected' or ruled invalid.
With less than 46,000 votes to count nationwide, it took at least six weeks to count them in most electorates. In Deniliquin again it took 41 days to count just 66 votes, according to Mr. Truss' Electoral Commission figures, and 48 days to count 66 votes in Coober Pedy. And this, notes Mr. Truss, is the Electoral Commission that was sent to South Africa to advise on how to run an election!
It is not surprising that allegations of voting irregularities are widespread, and that 10 of the results are being challenged in the courts. However, the point is that such electoral procedures cannot produce accountable representatives for the Aboriginal people, and cannot lead to any useful financial accountability.
Australians are justified in calling for an end to such an expensive, farcical situation, without being accused of racism. The only apparent answer is for all Australians to be governed together, as one nation, rather than a collection of tribes producing further friction and division. There is no possible doubt that the Aboriginal Land Fund will cause deeper and yet more bitter divisions, irrespective of how well it is administered. The old demand of "no taxation without representation" immediately becomes relevant.
ALEXANDER DOWNER ON THE REPUBLICAN RACK
It is quite clear that the Liberal Party is in serious political trouble on the republican issue. The divisions emerging in Liberal ranks on the issue, together with the undoubted political skills of Mr. Keating, could not only destroy Mr. Downer as Opposition Leader, but could even destroy the Liberal Party itself. As Mr. Tony Abbott points out, this was a Party that originally included loyalty to the Crown as a primary plank in the manifesto.
Their position now is quite extraordinary. To
a large extent, the Liberal dilemma is an illustration of how the Party
has become a victim of its own neglect of the vital educational process.
While the A.L.P. is a thoroughly 'centrist' party, which is reflected
in its own structure, the Liberals were traditionally more of a State-based
party, with the Federal contingent growing out of this. Thus the Liberals
had the chance - especially in Victoria - to ensure that an understanding
of the Crown and Constitution was well taught to every generation through
the education system. They neglected this duty, and now suffer the consequences:
the very ranks of the Liberal Party have forgotten why the Crown is
It now appears that the rot within the Party is more akin to a cancer, and Downer is in the impossible position of attempting to scourge the cancer without fatally exposing himself to the merciless assault of those such as Keating. The key to the importance of the Constitution is the Crown. Where an obviously independent monarch occupies the throne, the division of powers is much more certain, and political accountability much more certain. It is not good enough to dismiss the Royal Family as Mr. Downer attempts to do: They are part of the equation, although the person of the monarch is not as important as the office of the Crown.
WRONG FOCUS ON THE CONSITUTION
from The Australian, July 8th
"Mr. Turnbull also makes much of the provisions of sections 58 & 59, and the limitation on the external affairs power. Contrary to what he says, there was nothing 'extraordinary' about the powers these conferred on the Queen (or, as he says, in reality her British ministers). Similar constraints applied also to Canada and New Zealand. "Mr. Turnbull seems to imply that virtually any Australian legislation was vulnerable to the exercise of these powers by the British Government. But as the passage he himself quotes from Quick & Garran shows, it was generally understood to apply to 'cases involving imperial and international relations'. "Certainly, there were sometimes disputes as to whether imperial or international relations were involved in legislation ostensibly of only local application (for example, legislation stipulating preference for goods made 'by European labour only'). But the Colonial Office's view did not always prevail in these disputes.
"In this part of his case, as elsewhere, Mr. Turnbull slights the informal and unwritten conventions and practices of responsible government, well understood at the time, in the context of which the Australian Constitution was devised and intended to operate. He does note, however, that significant changes were made in these unwritten conventions in 1926 & 1931, which removed the teeth, such as they were, of sections 58 & 59, and gave the dominions the exercise of a full external affairs power.
"So, he argues, significant constitutional change came about without any amendment to the text of the Constitution. The moral I would draw from this however, is somewhat different from his. "Mr. Turnbull thinks that all that now needs to be done is to remove from the Constitution the few remaining symbols of a long defunct and always limited subservience. But Mr. Turnbull's cosmetic revisions would do nothing, for example, about the growing power of the central government executive, or the growing ill distribution of powers and resources between State and Federal governments, which threatens to undermine the federal basis for our Constitution.
"So, if we are going to revise our Constitution, let it be a revision which addresses real problems, and not merely the concerns of a small-minded but clamorous nationalism." (Dr. Margaret Hamersley, Department of History, Monash University, Clayton, Vic.)
from The Australian, July 6th
"Western Australia has always co-operated in the establishment of national environmental standards. That does not mean we support the creation of another level of bureaucracy in Canberra. "The bulk of the environmental expertise within the public sector rests with the States as they have the prime responsibility to protect each State's environment. "The National Environmental Protection Authority (N.E.P.A.) proposal is symptomatic of ever increasing Commonwealth intrusion into environmental issues on which it often has little expertise or practical experience.
"The Western Australian Government is deeply
concerned about the inefficiencies, costs and unnecessary duplications
caused by such Commonwealth efforts. They often bring no benefit to
the environment, but confusion, uncertainty and cost to the community."
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