‘I ACKNOWLEDGE THE PRESENCE IN THE HOUSE OF EVERALD COMPTON AO’.

These friendly words of welcome were made last Wednesday by Hon. Milton Dick MP, Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Australian Parliament.

I was visiting Parliament, negotiating on behalf of community projects in which I am personally involved, for the 121st time since my first visit there 66 years ago, covering an era in which 14 Prime Ministers have held office.

Milton had invited me to be his guest in the front row of the Speakers Gallery at Question Time, so I relaxed there as I took in the spectacle of Parliamentarians tearing one another apart – verbally – as usual.

During the proceedings, he announced my presence and the Members greeted me with warm applause. I was not expecting this, so I instantly decided that I better stand up and nod my thanks. This caused a bit more applause. I was quite moved by the honour, especially as the response came from all Parties in the Parliament, something that does not often happen in a Parliament that is constantly becoming more divided.

That same evening, Milton invited me to share an upmarket whisky with him and other MP’s in the Speakers Office as we chatted about political people and events over my six and a half decades as a visitor to Parliament. As we enjoyed our drinks, he asked me to express an opinion as to who were the best and worst Prime Ministers in my era. I responded that I have no doubt that Julia Gillard was the best and Scott Morrison the worst.

The visit to Parliament in this past week enabled me to have private meetings with 29 politicians and bureaucrats. I made sure that I covered Labor, Liberals, Nationals, Greens. Independents. This is a practice I have followed over all the years as I learned long ago that, to achieve anything significant at Parliament, it is vital to get as many people and parties onside as is possible.

On this occasion, at the conclusion of my three days there, I can say with confidence that I am pleased with the progress made with my projects, but am always aware that I should have done better,

I must mention that I found this Parliament, led by Anthony Albanese, to be a much more progressive place on sound government than those run by Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison. They were consumed by the exercise of power whereas this one shows clear evidence of genuinely trying to achieve results in an ever changing and challenging world of huge social, economic and religious divisions. A totally different attitude prevails at this moment and I found it to be refreshing. My hope is that it will continue to be so.

Right now, the major political battlegrounds are in the fields of industrial relations, anti-corruption, robodebt, voluntary assisted dying, child care, climate, environment, voice referendum, aged care and skills shortage, with many other initiatives in the pipeline. It will be good for Australia if most are successful

A few matters are obvious headline gatherers that are worthy of special comment right now.

*The Voice Referendum is currently in trouble. I found only a few MP’s who are confident that it will pass as most of them feel that Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania will vote No. The Australian Constitution clearly states that a majority of States must vote Yes for any Referendum to pass on the issue of constitutional change. I will vote Yes and will campaign strongly to secure an overall Yes vote as it is fundamentally wrong for Australia to have a Constitution that does recognise 65000 years of indigenous heritage. However, it will require a a well planned and very positive campaign to secure a Voice to that heritage.

*Along with the political demise of Scott Morrison, the power of the Christian Right has faded considerably in the current Parliament. I doubt that it will ever regain its influence as most Christians are in the centre ground of politics, not out on the extremes of the right.

*Many veteran Nationals and Liberals in Parliament intend to retire at the 2025 Election. They are resigned to the inevitability that Anthony Albanese will enjoy two terms as Prime Minister and Jim Chalmers will follow him for at least another 2 terms. They do not want to be in the political wilderness for so many long years. I can understand their feelings on this matter but the key issue is this. Can they find replacements who are Prime Minister material? This task is of great importance as they do not have anyone in their ranks at this moment who is electable as Leader of our nation. As matters stand at present, they are obviously very weak as the official Opposition. This is shown by their consistently poor performances at Question Time. Too many of their questions are embarrassingly ridiculous.

*The TEALS and other Independents are not political amateurs. They are preforming with positive credibility and getting results. One example of this is the humble but powerful performance of David Pocock in gaining amendments to Industrial Relations legislation.

So there it is for now.

Many things can change in a hurry in politics, so nothing is certain. But, for now, the new Labor government is doing better than most people expected.

I will be back there in Canberra in February. It may be a different world by then. Who knows.

But let me close by saying that I will never ever forget my first meeting with Sir Robert Menzies way back in 1956. He had a commanding presence and looked and acted like a Prime Minister of huge distinction. The key issue to remember is that he clearly occupied the centre ground of politics. It was obvious that he was a genuine Liberal. He was not a Conservative. The future of Australian politics will always be in the Centre. The LNP must get back there in a hurry or remain in the lonely wilderness for decades.

Yours with an open mind.

Everald

My book DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS is enjoying increasing sales. Many Australians are realising that to vote in the voice referendum, they must have some knowledge of what our Founding Fathers put into the Constitution. My book is written as a thriller in which Barton, Deakin, Griffith, Kingston, Forrest etc are the very credible heroes.

Go to my books website, EveraldBooks.com, to place an order for it (and my other books).

THE MURDER OF CASSIUS TURVEY

Three weeks ago, a young Indigenous Aussie, just 15 years old, was peacefully walking home with his friends from the school they attended at Middle Swan in Western Australia.

His name was CASSIUS TURVEY.

They were attacked by a 21 year old man who hit him, and some of his friends, with an iron pole. He died two weeks later and his attacker has been charged with murder.

When he was laid to rest this week in the ancient and splendidly spiritual traditions of his ancestors, there was a genuine outpouring of grief across Australia as people of many cultures and religions met to light candles of remembrance. These gatherings were not organised as a part of any campaign against racists. They just happened. Indeed, the family of Cassius asked that his death not be used in any way as part of a political campaign.

Certainly, most of us do not want a nationwide crusade similar to that which happened when George Floyd was murdered by 4 police in USA. That incident was not a show of grief. It was as close to anarchy as it was possible to get. Simply, it was naked political unrest fostered by extremists who capitalised on the sincere feelings of many peace loving Americans who were appalled at Floyd’s death.

The death of Cassius is a stark reminder to all of us that we live in a violent society that is growing in its incidence of brutality for no valid reason.

This has been fostered by the ever growing use of hostile and insulting words that millions of us use every day in the normal course of our lives.

I cringe when politicians abuse one another in Parliament on every occasion they can. They set a dreadful example to the nation of disrespect and intolerance.

Media stirs divisions among us every minute of every hour of every day by creating controversial headlines that are blatant lies designed to divide society into warring factions that will support whatever sick ideology they are fostering at the time.

Social media is the worst centre of abuse by far. The bitterness, nastiness and lies that are spewed out every day are hugely disgraceful. So much so that I have recently taken up the practice of instantly blocking any follower or reader who is even slightly abusive, vulgar or hypocritical. We do not need them in our society in any shape or form.

We can commence our crusade against abuse by the way in which we participate in the debate during the forthcoming Referendum which will be held in Australia sometime during 2023 on the creation of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander VOICE.

This referendum has the capacity to create huge social divisions across the nation, not because there is anything illegal or divisive or dishonorable about it, but simply because it will give racists and bullies a respectable platform to vent their appalling spleen across our society and try their very best to divide us into warring factions.

I intend to campaign strongly for a YES Vote simply because I passionately believe it is time to recognise in the Australian Constitution the 65000 years of Indigenous heritage of our nation. This was deliberately omitted when our Constitution was written and voted on in 1901.

However, I will use no nasty language and I will respect the right of opponents to express their differing views as citizens of a democratic nation. If ever I overstep the mark, I will apologise sincerely.

My profound hope is that Australia will grow as a nation that has a predominantly cohesive society and that, in the years ahead, young Aussies like CASSIUS will be able to live with an expectation of security in a peaceful community, no matter whether they are black or white or of any other ethnic group or religion or culture.

May I say this in closing.

I did not attend a public gathering for CASSIUS. I paused for a few moments at my home to quietly shed a tear for him. He died before he had the opportunity to play the music that was in his soul. There and then, I made a quiet commitment to work relentlessly to foster a nation of peace.

And I now remember the words of the great English poet, John Donne, (amended to remove the word Man).

‘The death of any person diminishes me as I am involved in humankind. Therefore, never ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for you.’

Sincerely,

Everald Compton

WILL THE BURNING OF THE FLAG OF AUSTRALIA HELP OR HINDER THE PASSING OF THE VOICE REFERENDUM?

Let me say first of all that I have believed for many decades that Australia needs a new flag.

May I also say that I will never ever burn our flag no matter what its design may be?

My journey towards achieving a new flag for Australia began at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.

At that time, our National Anthem was GOD SAVE THE QUEEN. When an Australian won a Gold Medal, this was played as the Aussie mounted the podium. Exactly the same happened when a Brit or a Kiwi won. There was no distinction.

Even the most conservative monarchists in Australia began to openly say, ‘we must have a national anthem of our own that shows we are no longer a British colony.’ Some were also saying, ‘we must have a new flag too. After all the Canadians are getting a new one.’

It took a long time, but we finally achieved the goal of a new national anthem even though we blundered badly. WALTZING MATILDA, with new words, should have been chosen as this is the tune that the world instinctively identifies as being Australian.

But we have made no progress whatsoever in gaining a genuine Australian Flag.

The Union Jack, that is a predominant part of it, continues to tell the world we are a British Colony. No national movement of power is advocating a new flag and current thinking is that a new flag can naturally follow after Australia becomes a Republic, probably in 2024 or 2025. I fervently hope so.

In the meantime, our Aboriginal Flag has gained prominence and will continue be a permanent presence in the life of Australia even though many people are of the strong belief that Australia can have only one flag. Actually, we have three as Torres Strait Islanders have one too, but most of us have not been aware of it. If we really want to get round to considering the entire realm of our flags, all six States and both Territories have flags, so this makes 11 flags in all.

Now, to come to the current controversy.

During our national remembrance of the death of Queen Elizabeth, an indigenous protester publicly burned the Australian Flag, declaring that it commemorates the British Invasion of Australia that occurred when the First Fleet arrived in 1788. This resulted in the dispossession of land occupied by Indigenous people for 65000 years and the deaths of 30000 of them by gunfire and 100,000 by the diseases of white civilisation. In remembering this, it is important to note that no indigenous tribe ever surrendered or ceded their land to the British. It remains their own to this day.

While all this is true, Elizabeth was not personally responsible for it, nor is anyone living on our continent right now. So, the burning of our flag is offensive to most of our people. However, we will become very much to blame if we fail to do something positive about recognising Indigenous heritage and granting them a legislated advisory voice that they are entitled to in the affairs of the nation.

Our first opportunity to do this is via the Voice Referendum, currently scheduled to be held sometime in 2023. If it is passed, it will create a constitutional entity to which Aborigines will elect representatives. Those representatives will have power to debate any issues that relate to their people and present them to our Federal Parliament for consideration, However, Parliament will be under no legal obligation to approve them.

I can see no valid reason why this referendum should not pass. Indigenous people were not consulted when the Australian Constitution was drafted and approved in 1901 and they are not mentioned in it except to say they are the responsibility of the States. They have a fundamental right to be recognised as human beings and this small step will recognise it.

(It is appropriate also that I should mention too that women were not consulted about the Constitution in 1901).

Once this first step is taken, consideration can be given to the signing of a Treaty in the same spirit as was intended in the negotiation of the Waitangi Treaty in New Zealand in 1840.

The blunt fact is that if the Voice Referendum is defeated, the issue will not ever go away. It will remain as a festering sore of our national life forever so nothing will be gained by running away from it. We cannot hide behind the fact that dispossession of indigenous people has happened on every other continent. That fact of history does not make it right.

Nevertheless, having said all of the above, I strongly hold the view that the burning of our National Flag last week was unjustified.

Indeed, it was also very naive politics as it has lost the support of many people who were intending to vote YES. It was quite simply insulting and WRONG.

That lost ground means that much more positive work will have to be done to make sure that the referendum wins.

Sincerely,

Everald Compton

A proud Australian who intends to vote YES and campaign strongly for a YES vote. It’s time.

THE SPLENDID ERA OF ELIZABETH IS OVER. CAN AUSTRALIA NOW BECOME A REPUBLIC?

For many years, I have been appalled by the attitude of people who say,

‘When the Queen dies, I will be happy to vote in favour of Australia becoming a Republic.’

What they, in reality, have been callously saying is this.

‘I don’t want to offend Elizabeth, but I have no problem with insulting Charles’.

Why are they happy to declare Charles to be a lesser monarch than the Queen? I can assure you from personal experience that he is actually a decent bloke.

Fact is their thinking is totally emotional, has no shred of logic and is offensive to the King.

Most Australians don’t realise it, but right now two thirds of the members of the Commonwealth of Nations are Republics and the Queen had a good relationship with all of them. So will Charles.

The prime example is India, It won its freedom from Britain in 1947 and immediately became a Republic, severing all constitutional connections with the British Crown, but happily joined the Commonwealth of Nations. Since then, they have invited the Queen to visit them on three occasions and she accepted three times, with huge crowds turning out to greet her. Does this indicate she was offended by them becoming a Republic?

Australians who used the ‘Queen Excuse’ to oppose Australia becoming a Republic have shown themselves to be shallow.

So, lets cut out the emotional nonsense and get down to discussing how Australia formally severs its connections with a decadent Downton Abbey society and becomes an independent nation.

What can stop us from becoming a Republic right now?

There will be a temporary delay due to a timing problem. We have no option but to wait until the Indigenous Voice Referendum has been held in mid 2023 as it is already underway and is a matter of some controversy that can’t be avoided. I intend to vote Yes, but the opposition will be significant.

Nevertheless, we can begin to prepare for it.

An initial hurdle is that we must face the fact that the words ‘Republic’ and ‘President’ switch off far too many voters. People identify those titles with nations like USA and Russia and Trump and Putin, They are a huge negative that will cause the referendum to be lost. So I think it makes common sense to stick with the existing words of ‘Commonwealth of Australia’ and ‘Governor General’.

I have sought legal advice and find it is possible to remove all mention of ‘The Crown’ from the Constitution of Australia and still remain a Commonwealth. A referendum will gain approval for this far more easily than one based on a republic.

It is also wise to retain the title of Governor General as this maintains a relationship with State Governors and removes the huge negative of the word President.

The crucial debate will be centered on the method of appointing a Governor General.

Will he or she continue to be chosen by the Prime Minister as happens at present or can the appointment be made by a vote of a Joint Sitting of both Houses of Parliament with a two thirds majority being required.

In achieving such a vote in the Parliament, should the nominees to be voted on be eminent citizens who are proposed by the People of Australia via a Petition to Parliament or do we let the politicians choose the candidates.

Or should the Governor General be appointed by a direct election in which voters make the choice, not Parliament. Does this mean that a politician will be elected who then feels he or she has a political mandate? It will be necessary for the Constitution to be amended to say that no current or former politicians are eligible to run. The Irish have made direct election work well in Eire so it is possible.

These issues simply remind us that there is a lot of debate to be held before we can decide what is best for Australia.

So, testing times lie ahead.

However, the death of Queen Elizabeth puts it all on the Agenda right now in a far greater limelight and urgency than ever before. Also, the controversial status of the current Governor General over the ‘Morrison Affair’ has highlighted the need for changes to be made as Australia voters had no say whatsoever in the appointment of Hurley.

A step forward will be to create a Constitution Panel to draw up all the changes and additions to the Constitution that are necessary for a Referendum in 2024.

Let’s get this moving but let me say this in closing.

Even though Britain faces dark economic and social challenges at this moment, the Brits have one huge talent they can once more show to the world. They have a magnificent capacity to organise quite breathtaking funerals. The one they did for Diana was an absolute cracker. This one will outclass that one by a huge margin as it is one for the ages.

Elizabeth was as close to a saint as the Brits have had in their royal history. Every republican I know holds her in high regard as a person. They will eventually feel the same way about Charles. In the meantime, they just want Australia to be an independent nation.

With my best regards to all the Windsor family.

Everald

ONE SMALL STEP

Sometime during 2023, a referendum will be held to determine whether constitutional provisions can be approved to create an Indigenous Voice within the process of democracy in Australia.

Its passing will not alone solve the many cultural, social and economic challenges that face Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders, but it will constitute a step forward along a pathway to find solutions to some of the more significant divisions in our society.

At the annual Garma Festival held recently in the Northern Territory, Anthony Albanese announced the words that are proposed to be included in the Australian Constitution if the voters of Australia approve them.

They are –

1. There shall be a body to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

2. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to Parliament and the Executive Government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

3. The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have powers to make laws with respect to the composition, function, powers and procedures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

Consultations will be held around Australia before the final wording is put to us at the Referendum when we will vote quite simply – YES or NO.

I intend to vote YES and to publicly campaign strongly for a majority of voters to do likewise.

How did we reach this point in our history?

Except to state in the Constitution that Aborigines are a responsibility of State Governments, the Founding Fathers in 1901, ignored them.

There was a widely held belief that they were a dying race and would have no part in the future of the nation. Indeed, the indigenous population was declining at that time, but this is not now the case. The reverse is occurring. 3.5% of the population of Australia now identify as being indigenous.

At that time, New Zealand withdrew from participating in the proposed Federation as they had already signed a treaty with the Maoris at Waitangi in 1840 and made them full citizens, something that the Australian States did not ever attempt to do and were not willing to do.

To our eternal disgrace, indigenous people were not given the right to vote until 1967, when a referendum gave approval with a vote of 97% in favour.

Then, in 1992, the High Court of Australia held that native title existed for all indigenous people.

Far too many Australian Governments have believed that they could achieve peace with aboriginals by buying their goodwill with money. Although billions of dollars have been spent in this way, little has been achieved.

Then, just a few years ago, the Uluru Statement from the Heart was prepared by the most significant gathering of Indigenous people in the history of Australia and presented to the Federal Government. Malcolm Turnbull declared that the voters of Australia would never accept it. Anthony Albanese believes otherwise.

So it is that you and I will now decide.

I wont set out here the case for either YES or N0.

This will be presented to us in the official referendum documents before we vote. I will now just comment on the draft wording that the Prime Minister has presented to us for consideration.

I find it to be acceptable except for two words.

The word ‘powers’ in the second line of paragraph 3, could cause the referendum to be lost. Paragraph 2 gives the Voice power to make representations only. Paragraph 3 gives Parliament power to give more power to the Voice. In my view, this can only be done via another referendum. The word should be removed from the paragraph.

The word VOICE is a strange title to give to a constitutional entity. It would be far better to call it an ASSEMBLY. This gives it the stature it deserves and we can more readily understand what it is.

Let me make an additional comment.

Once this new body is formed, I hope that it will of its own accord reach out to every nationality now living in Australia to mutually agree of ways and means of becoming a more cohesive society. There are now more than 100 nations represented here and each could send one delegate to a gathering of goodwill organised by the Voice once every parliamentary term.

Finally, may I note with dismay that Pauline Hanson has announced that her political party will campaign for a NO vote. I had hoped that political parties would stay out of it so we can enjoy a genuine exercise in democracy that will bring us together as a nation. Sadly it wont be so. Racism will raise its ugly head and divide us.

After all, we are simply acknowledging that people whose ancient heritage of 65000 years, the longest in the history of the entire planet, should be recognised in our national constitution.

Its just a small step to take.

Everald.

PS. Buy my book DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS from my website

EVERALD@LARGE

It tells the mighty story of how our Constitution was written and approved back in 1901. Sadly it reminds us that only 20% of referendums to change or add to our Constitution have ever received the approval of voters. I hope that this one adds to the list of winners.