Australians for Constitutional Monarchy - Toowoomba Branch

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Winning Entries to the 2012 Regional Essay Competition

Winning Essays:

2012 Division 1 (15-18 years) Winner

Daniel Gibson (Toowoomba Grammar School, Toowoomba)

“Australia continues to flourish as a constitutional monarchy. How has the absence of constitutional monarchies contributed to the instability of governments in some of the other countries of the Commonwealth of Nations?”

Australians enjoy political, economic and religious freedoms which are the envy of the global community, and the Economist Intelligence Unit duly quotes that three of the ten most liveable cities in the world are Australian [ABC News 2009]. Australia’s parliamentary status as a constitutional monarchy contributes to stability as well as to a high standard of living, and it is fortunate indeed, when the alternative is considered, that a referendum in 1999 showed that most Australians wished to retain the Queen of England as Australia’s Head of State, with her powers limited by the constitution.

The fiscal benefits of remaining a constitutional monarchy are ostensibly clear: seven of the ten richest countries are monarchies and those countries that have the British Queen as Head of State rank third (Bermuda), fifth (Cayman) and tenth (Canada) in the list of the thirty richest countries [Remy 1996]. As one source quotes: “Decolonisation has worked best when independent countries have adopted, retained or recognised monarchy” [Remy 1996]. Australia's success on the world stage despite her youth as a nation could be in part thanks to her early dependence on a powerful and respected Britain.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely (as said by John Acton). The practical benefit of constitutional monarchy is that it limits the power of a Prime Minister. Democracy is not a guarantee of political freedom, as minority groups recognise. The instructive example of one ruined country which repudiated its constitutional monarch should not be ignored.

Zimbabwe and Australia had much in common early in the twentieth century. Both were colonised by Britain and both moved towards independence in the 20th Century - Australia in the 1930’s and Zimbabwe in the early 1980’s [Voice of America 2010]. Here, thankfully, the similarities cease. Australia retained the British monarch as her Head of State but Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) unilaterally declared independence from Britain in 1965 and became a republic in 1970, partly because Rhodesia stubbornly refused to allow majority rule [The 1922 Classic Encyclopedia 2006]. Civil war ensued and the economy went downhill. The British Government suitably interceded the bickering and a general election was held in 1980 [Voice of America 2010]. This was won by Robert Mugabe who initially governed fairly but who, tragically, became a despot and ruined the country's economy through the introduction of a series of poor policies. He also repressed the human and political rights of thousands of Zimbabweans [Voice of America 2010]. There was no recourse to a constitutional monarch, which might have averted catastrophe.

Contrast this with Australia. In 1975 the Governor General intervened to dismiss a stagnant Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and called a double-dissolution election. The decisive and timely action kept the gathering storm inside the proverbial teacup. Constitutional monarchists would say that all adult children benefit from an experienced parent who cheers them on and occasionally intervenes with good advice or occasional action, and this is exactly what was provided to Australia in 1975.

Politicians are a necessity, but it is most true to say that at times their personal ambitions can prove dangerous. They need to be popular to stay in power, and so may spend money foolishly in order to be re-elected. Even the most upright politician can at times be blinded by personal ambition. Monarchs, in contrast, are lifelong rulers who have less need of short-term popularity. They want to be remembered for reigning wisely and to pass on a rich inheritance to their children.

At heart, countries are made up of people, and people will always offer allegiance to a prominent and genuine figurehead. Politicians, whom we instinctively distrust, cannot fill this role but a monarch can be the human, and loved, face of government. Modernists may scoff, saying monarchists believe in fairy stories, but the unconscious mind is primed to revere and love a good King or Queen. This deep and secret undercurrent could one day prove again to be a powerful force for maintaining political stability in turbulent and uncertain times.

Bibliography

"Debate: Australian republic vs. monarchy" 2010, international debate education association, available from URL debatepedia.idebate.org last accessed 20th April, 2012.

"Zimbabwe Independence Day" 2010, Voice of America, available from URL www.voanews.com last accessed 23rd April, 2012.

"Melbourne 'third most' liveable city in the world" 2009, ABC News, available from URL www.abc.net.au last accessed 20th April, 2012.

Rema, A 1996, "Monarchy Today in Figures," The Website of Dynasties Out of Europe, available from URL www.almanach.be last accessed 23rd April, 2012.


2012 Division 1 (15-18 years) Second place

Adam Little (Centenary Heights State High School, Toowoomba)

“Australia continues to flourish as a constitutional monarchy. How has the absence of constitutional monarchies contributed to the instability of governments in some of the other countries of the Commonwealth of Nations?”

Over many decades, our system of government has endured, and outlasted withering attacks on the part of some, wishing to label our Constitutional Monarchy as an archaic remnant of a by-gone Imperial age. Some, attempt to portray our link to the crown as oppressive shackles and the crown as an irrelevant anachronism - holding us back from our own advancement. Despite such criticism, the evidence to the contrary is unequivocal. Our system of government, forged peacefully and with great vision, stands in contrast to many that have thrown away their ties to the crown. We prosper, while uncertainty and unrest abound in them. Much more than just a reminder of our heritage - the crown renders us confidence that we shall continue to grow and thrive as a nation.

The conclusion of WWII eventually brought about the end of the British Empire (in its original form ) and led to the emergence of the Commonwealth of Nations; a united body of countries, equal in status, collectively promoting democracy, good government, human rights and economic development. (BBC, 2012) However, post WWII also saw a steady stream of nations abandoning the crown in an attempt to demonstrate independence. In many cases; instances of civil unrest, corruption and human rights abuses, can be attributed to the lack of accountability afforded under the Republican model of government adopted by these countries. Nowhere is this principle more clearly demonstrated, than in the case of Zimbabwe and its eventual exit from the Commonwealth.

Once one of the richest, most educated and affluent African nations; Zimbabwe was once known as the ‘fruit basket of Africa.’ However - crippled by hyperinflation, it has now come to be labelled a ‘basket case’. A former Commonwealth Realm, Zimbabwe officially announced their independence in 1980 as a Republic under Robert Mugabe . This man, previously hailed as a national hero, is now a symbol of the dangers of a system where absolute power can be harnessed by a single government, movement, or individual. Under the Mugabe regime, the second largest economy in southern Africa was reduced to a state of overwhelming poverty, with an unemployment rate of over 80%. (Perry, 2009) Mugabe demonstrated his disregard for democracy in dramatic fashion. When a referendum was held on amendments to the Zimbabwean constitution, to allow forcible redistribution of white-owned land without compensation, it was soundly rejected by the people. Despite this, white farmers still had their land invaded and those who refused to leave were often tortured or killed. Shortly after, Parliament confirmed its contempt for the people and democratic process by pushing the above amendments through and ignoring the public outcry. (Time Magazine, 2007) Although suffering electoral defeat in 2002 and 2008, Mugabe managed to cling to power through fraud and intimidation. His unchecked actions throughout his dictatorship highlight the fatal flaws in a system where the crown is removed.

The corruption and instability in Zimbabwe, is just one example among many, where countries within the commonwealth have suffered due to the absence of constitutional monarchy. After declaring themselves a republic in 1987; Fiji’s recent history has been marred with military and civilian coups, which have resulted in civil unrest and violence - along with their suspension from the Commonwealth. Bloody civil wars have ravaged Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Uganda - with countless people killed, and many more displaced. Poverty, fear and oppressive regimes have become a tragic reality for many nations within the Commonwealth. In such cases - the absence of the crown has led to the proliferation of corruption, and grievous abuse of power. Indeed, the Crown is more than a symbol; it is an institution that seeks to withhold absolute power, to prevent an individual from pursuing an agenda that runs contrary to the wishes of the people, and to ensure that governments and individuals are accountable. The crown is a power that exists above political alliance, and above vested interests - a power that strives to only one end: the service and protection of the people who are under it.

The Constitutional Monarchy has played an integral part in the establishment of our nation, and continues to grow and change along with the needs of our modern society. We are not a prosperous nation due to our wealth. We are a prosperous nation due to the stability and fortitude that our Constitutional Monarchy has allowed us. It has enabled us to stride forward with confidence, that despite the continual change that our society undergoes, we are protected from the uncertainty and fear that has become so engrained in many countries throughout the Commonwealth. The Crown is not merely symbolic; it is a living and dynamic institution, which remains as relevant to our democracy today, as it was at our nation’s inception.

Bibliography

Winter, J 2011, Robert Mugabe: The Survivor, viewed 13th April 2012, www.bbc.co.uk

Brulliard, N 2009, Mugabe - Hero to Villain, viewed 16th April 2012, www.globalpost.com

Pal, A 2007, Zimbabwe - An Example of Power’s Corruption, viewed 16th April 2012, www.progressive.org

Bougias, G 2009, The International Crown, viewed 20th April 2012, www.ourconstitution.org

Perry, A 2007, First Person: Imprisoned in Zimbabwe, viewed 20th April 2012, www.time.com

Perry, A 2010, Why Zimbabwe’s New Diamonds Imperil Global Trade, viewed 22nd April 2012, www.time.com

Davis, M 2010, Pre-hyperinflation Zimbabwe, viewed 23rd April 2012, searchforeconomics.blogspot.com.au

Smith, D 2010, The Crown: Sustaining Democracy, viewed 22nd April 2012, www.queensu.ca

Ramesh, S 2007, Fiji, 1987 - 2007: The Story of Four Coups, viewed 21st April 2012, www.worldpress.org

Shah, A 2011, Conflicts in Africa, viewed 21st April 2012, www.worldpress.org


2012 Division 2 (11-14 years) Winner

Ethnee Furness (Christian Outreach College, Toowoomba)

“Explain the various ways in which Queen Elizabeth II serves the people of Australia and another Commonwealth Nation”

The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘serve’ as to; be servant to, do service or be useful to, meet needs, avail, suffice, satisfy, perform function, be suitable and do what is required. The Queen has done all this to a very high standard.

Queen Elizabeth II, officially known as Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, serves the Commonwealth in many ways. I will in this essay tell of the ways the Queen serves Australia and Uganda.

The Queen's Royal style and title in Australia is Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth. The Queen’s relationship with Australia is unique. In all her duties, she acts as the Queen of Australia, not of the United Kingdom.

The Queen has served Australia not only physically, but by giving up her life to do what is best for the country. She has lived her life in the public eye, her every move under criticism. Ever since she was born, she has been a role model to Australia, the Commonwealth and the world.

The Queen supports 29 charities in Australia through her patronage, covering a range of age groups and needs. These charities include The Partially Blinded Soldiers' Association of Australia, the Mothers' Union in Australia and the Young Women's Christian Association of Australia.

The Queen displays religious patronage, by encouraging the Christian values and messages. In her 1957 Christmas broadcast, she encouraged us to maintain our traditions and religious convictions. In the 2011 Christmas broadcast she said, “God sent into the world a unique person - neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a saviour, with the power to forgive.” Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God's love.”

The Queen also serves Uganda. It is another Commonwealth country. Her official style in the country is By the Grace of God; Queen of Uganda and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth. I have recently had exposure to Watoto, an organisation that ‘Rescues, Raises and Rebuilds’ vulnerable women and children in Uganda who have lost family to war or disease. This Christian group espouses many of the principles the Queen is known for; faith in God, care for the disadvantaged, and a desire to see people become independent. These attributes are common to the Queen in the way in which she serves both Australia and Uganda.

Whilst she has only visited the country twice, she has supported Uganda in many ways. Of her visit in 2007, “She is the mother of Uganda,” said Robert Moko, 24. “For us Ugandans, we don't have a Queen here in our country. So the British Queen is our mother. We were ruled by the British so their royal family are our parents.” This shows the way in which the Queen has mothered Uganda, encouraging it as a mother would do to her child.

The Queen has served Uganda’s Watoto Children’s choir by inviting them to sing at her Diamond Jubilee celebrations this year. This publicises the cause of orphaned and vulnerable children and spread’s God’s love as an act of service.

I have identified a number of ways in which Queen Elizabeth II serves both Australia and Uganda through leadership, patronage and encouragement. God Save the Queen.

Bibliography

Barrow, M N.d, The British Queen, Projectbritain.com, accessed 02 April 2012, projectbritain.com.

Blair, D 2007, 'Uganda welcomes the Queen and Prince Philip', The Telegraph, 21 November 2007, p.n.d.

Cahoon, B N.d, Uganda, World Statesmen, accessed 23 April 2012, www.worldstatesmen.org.

The Christmas Broadcast, 1957, DVD, ABC, Sandringham House in Norfolk, Christmas Day 1957.

The Christmas Broadcast, 2011, DVD, ABC, Buckingham Palace, Christmas Day 2011.

The Queen pays an impromptu visit to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) near Tower Bridge in London, April 2003., 2003, photograph, The Official Website Of The British Monarchy, accessed 02 April 2012.

60 Facts about the Queen N.d, Thediamondjubilee.org, accessed 02 April 2012, www.thediamondjubilee.org.



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