On the back cover of my new book, CATCHING THE LINVILLE TRAIN, there is a splendid painting that depicts the scene.
My friend, Noela Lowien, a talented painter who lives at Kilcoy in Queensland, not far from Linville, has captured the moment.
Never before had I ever travelled beyond Linville, a tiny village in which a timber mill was the focal point. My dad worked as a labourer at the mill earning 3 pounds a week (six dollars).
This day was a huge adventure for me. It took me to Toogoolawah, a distance of 20 miles, to spend a day at the rural school where they tried unsuccessfully to teach me wood work. It took a long time for the world to work out that my only skill was talking.
That first journey turned out to be the first of many thousands that followed to every continent on the globe. The book chats about the significant world events that impacted my life, famous people I worked with, historic places I visited and nostalgia about books, films, theatre, sport and the important things I believe I have achieved, concluding with a memorable journey back to Linville on my 90th birthday to walk for 14 kilometres along the now disused railway track and raise 35000 dollars for ACTS.
Well, the book is being launched on Thursday evening of the coming week, 16 March, at 6.00pm at All Saints Anglican Church in Hamilton Road at Chermside in the northern suburbs of Brisbane, 140 kilometres from Linville.
You are welcome to join me there to share a red wine and a chat. Its a fundraiser for a Uniting Church charity that I chair called ACTS that gives direct cash grants to people in crisis situations. It will cost you a few dollars, but you will enjoy a happy evening.
All of the royalties that I would normally earn from book sales that night go to ACTS
SEND ME A MESSAGE AND I WILL BE IN TOUCH.TO ORGANISE A PLACE FOR YOU.
So far, 112 people have registered to attend and have paid up in advance, but I can fit you in for sure.
PS. Noela Lowien has also done a flattering portrait of me which is on the front cover of the book. Noela will be at the launch. You can sign her up to do a portrait of you.
THURSDAY, 16 MARCH, 6.00PM, ALL SAINTS ANGLICAN CHURCH, HAMILTON ROAD, CHERMSIDE, BRISBANE
You will meet Rebecca Levingston of ABC Radio who will MC the evening.
Also Wayne Swan, Greg Cary, Paul Scarr, Anthony Lynham & Shayne Neumann who will comment on my latest book
CATCHING THE LINVILLE TRAIN
The function is a fundraiser for ACTS, the community service arm of the Aspley Uniting Church, which makes direct cash grants to people in crisis situations. Last year, we shared 77,000 dollars to the bank accounts of more than 100 people who were in significant trouble.
For a modest 25 dollars per person you enjoy a great evening and some excellent drinks and savouries, most of which have been donated by generous supporters of ACTS.
A signed copy of my book is available for 25 dollars. All royalties on book sales at the launch go to ACTS.
And you can make a tax deductible gift to ACTS if you choose to do so.
In addition, we will all enjoy the company of many fine people who have already signed up to attend.
My book is not my autobiography. I wrote that a decade ago.
CATCHING THE LINVILLE TRAIN is all about the world that opened up to me following my first train journey from the tiny village of Linville to the world 85 years ago when I was just 6 years old. There are 81 short chapters about the great national and international events of my era, influential people I worked with, historic places that impacted on my thinking, nostalgia about books cinema theatre and a humble analysis of five important things I feel that I achieved in my life. Finally, I return to Linville and look at where our world is heading.
There are many of my 17000 friends on Twitter and Facebook whom I have not yet had the privilege of meeting so this book launch is a time when I hope to say hello to you.
If you would like to catch up, send me a direct message on Twitter or Facebook and I will make contact.
In the meantime, you will note that I am already at work signing books. I am delighted that so many have been ordered in advance.
Exactly 100 years ago this month, a passionate aviator, Hudson Fysh, flew a light plane that carried just one passenger out of a rough airfield at Cloncurry in north western Queensland to launch a new airline that he had just founded. He called his pioneering venture Queensland and Northern Territory Air Services. To keep it simple, the locals called it QANTAS, a revered name that will carry it into its second century.
While Fysh had a vision for it to become the finest bush airline in Australia, little did he realise that it would one day become an international airline of considerable significance and longevity.
Fact is that Fysh was a World War 1 veteran who had returned home after serving in the fledgling Royal Australian Air Force, mainly in Palestine. He had no money, but had managed to convince some eminent Western Queensland cattle men to back him as the initial investors. He went very close to bankruptcy several times in the early years of QANTAS, but battled on tenaciously to bring his dream to reality and success.
Even in those early tough years, he also provided a great community service to Inland Australia by joining with John Flynn, Flynn of the Inland, to create the Flying Doctor Service. He and Flynn fostered a partnership that flew doctors and nurses to very remote places to save lives, often in dramatic circumstances. For 90% of those flights there was no airstrips in places where people were injured or ill. So they landed valiantly on either unpaved roads or in large paddocks, but did not ever damage a plane or kill a patient. It was an incredible achievement.
Now, an eminent Australian historian, Grantlee Kieza, has written a superb book about Hudson Fysh that has just reached the book shops. Grantlee has given me an advance copy and I can tell you that it is a splendid read about an inspirational human being. I strongly recommend that you buy and enjoy it.
I especially recommend it as I want you to discover that Grantlee has generously dedicated the book to me. The citation, that I have photographed below, reads,
‘For Everald Compton, a nation builder who like Hudson Fysh has encouraged so many Australians to soar.’
I am enormously proud of those words and I gratefully thank Grantlee for them, even though I know that I don’t deserve his accolade.
But any mention of nation builders anywhere reminds us that the noble building a nation is not of much interest to most Aussies. Our nation has too many people who are capitalists with a goal of plundering the economy and there are too many socialists who are convinced that Australia owes them a living permanently. Only a few believe in a society that fosters the ideal of a SHARED GOOD in which we seek to excel.
Grantlee has, during his distinguished career as an author, written several fine books about great Australians who contributed mightily to our nation. I have read many of them and particularly enjoyed four of them. MACQUARIE tells us about our finest Governor who changed our country from being a penal colony to become a prosperous civilisation. HENRY LAWSON and BANJO PATTERSON tell us of how Australia produced literary giants who ranked highly internationally, while MONASH tells us how valiant Australian leadership hastened the end of World War 1 by winning a famous victory against Germany at the battle of Villiers Bretonneux in northern France. He has several more books such as those four in the pipeline.
My own books pale into insignificance in comparison to Grantlee’s literary skills even though THE MAN ON THE TWENTY DOLLAR NOTES (about Flynn of the Inland) and DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS (about the creators of the Australian nation, Barton and Deakin, and their eminent team) have sold well and are steadily growing in popularity.
Sadly, QANTAS today would bring tears to the eyes of Hudson Fysh. It is a pale shadow of its former greatness, having alienated far too many of its loyal passengers with very ordinary and unreliable service. I have been flying with them for 70 years now but they cancelled my membership of their Chairman’s Lounge because I am ‘too old’ to be a regular passenger. Fysh would never have done that to me.
This insult, however, does not deter me from flying with them on most occasions that I travel as I want to continue to show my respect to their gallant founder, HUDSON FYSH, a very great Australian. Indeed, one of the very greatest.
It is now time for Australians to vote in a Referendum that embeds the basic principles of the Uluru Statement into the Constitution of Australia.
This historic milestone must not be delayed beyond this year and, as the Prime Minister has affirmed that his government is ready to pass legislation enabling the Referendum to be held, it is highly possible to achieve this.
As my contribution to the debate, here is wording I believe should be voted into the Constitution as Section 129, with the heading FIRST AUSTRALIANS.
*An Assembly will be established called FIRST AUSTRALIANS, in acknowledgement of the heritage of the oldest culture in the world.
*be elected by a democratic vote of indigenous persons managed by the Australian Electoral Commission.
*consist of not more than 50 members who shall serve five year terms.
*formulate policies relating to the livelihood of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and present these to Parliament annually.
Parliament shall have
*no obligation to approve the recommended policies, but shall debate them and formally convey responses to the Assembly within one year.
*powers to make laws relating to the functions and procedures of the Assembly.
Let me have your thoughts on how these words can be improved.
In doing so, I suggest you note these thoughts.
I have used the least possible number of words as the more words that are used the more doubts can be created in the minds of voters by opponents who see words as an opportunity to nitpick.
I am aware that significant leaders of indigenous communities would like the name of the Assembly to be FIRST NATIONS VOICE but I have the firm view that this will cause the referendum to fail as many Australians will feel that it recognises indigenous people as a separate nation.
The Constitution states that to gain approval, a Referendum must not only gain a nationwide majority of votes for YES, voters in four out of 6 States must vote YES. This is a huge task and I hope that you will join me in working for its achievement.
It is important that FIRST AUSTRALIANS is part of the Constitution rather than it being created by an Act of Parliament as that can be amended or removed by a subsequent government.
As this year is the 30th anniversary of the Mabo decision of the High Court to recognise the land rights of Indigenous Australians, it is fitting that Australia now takes this next step forward in continuing to achieve a just society.
Written with a genuine sense of history in the making.
PS. Read my book DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS to discover why aborigines, as they were then called, were omitted from the Australian Constitution.
Bill Shorten has recommended to Malcolm Turnbull that they join together in a bi-partisan attempt to hold a Referendum on Constitutional Change which will enable the Australian Parliament to have four year fixed terms. To his credit, Turnbull has left the door open for further discussions.
This is a good initiative that I will strongly support and I hope that you will too.
It will enable governments to spend at least their first year of office implementing difficult policies before they inevitably become obsessed with their pressing need to hold on to power at the next election.
In addition, fixed terms will cause Prime Ministers to cease their appallingly undemocratic practice of calling elections on a political whim, treating us all as fools in the process, just as Campbell Newman did so disastrously in Queensland and Theresa May did so arrogantly in Britain.