Little did I know that when I convened a meeting of five of my (then) closest political allies on Sunday morning, 10 January 1982 that I was bringing a ‘child’ in to this world. The (then) Markets Club at Flemington (Sydney) had allowed me the use of their Directors Room to convene what was to become the Foundation
Place of The REPUBLICAN PARTY of AUSTRALIA [The RPA]. The former Liberal Prime Minister, William McMahon, had – in the first couple of days of January – announced that he would be resigning his Federal Western Sydney Suburbs Seat of Lowe and that a by-election would have to be held to elect a replacement MHR. Now, the gathering of the five Foundation Members of myself, Peter Consandine, Doug Phillips, Brian Buckley, Jon Hillman and his younger brother David decided that I should run as a ‘Constitutional Republican’ with a 10-point platform. We enlisted as many friends and supporters as we could and ran an ‘introductory’ campaign. Although by no means disgraced, I didn’t win the by-election which attracted a ‘Melbourne Cup field of contenders’. Popular and wellknown ex-State Labor Parliamentarian Michael Maher did that. However, sufficient satisfaction with the ‘coverage’ I got in Lowe was enough for me and my
campaign team to decide to ‘do it ALL again’ – with essentially the same campaign platform and attendant tactics in Flinders in Victoria in November of that year when a by-election was caused in that Mornington Peninsula Seat by the resignation of the former Liberal Treasurer, Phillip Lynch. Again, I was not a victor – Peter Reith being the winner in what was a more limited field of candidates. However, I met my future Partner-for-Life, Jennifer Borrell, there and then.
Jennifer, as the Chief Librarian at Frankston City Library, actually photocopied my nomination form to contest Flinders. So, no children i.e. no progeny; no
offspring – literally – SOME THING else. More precisely, a ‘political child’! Now, if one is responsible for bringing a child in to this world, one has to be
accountable for the welfare of that being. Thus, 35½ years on in-the-piece, I am still bankrolling and spearheading The RPA!
Children NO but cats (i.e. pussycats) YES. Being a dog lover as a boy and youth, I ‘switched’ to felines when my family at Strathfield reluctantly ‘adopted’ a stray
cat – Mao Zedong – a black & white moggie, indeed a streetfighter of a beast, when our (then) neighbours – Ken & Jean Carey – left him behind when they
moved to the outer Western Suburbs of Sydney to establish a petfood manufacturing business. My South African Lover-Partner (1971 – 1973), Yvonne Barnett,
had a lovely Burmese cat named Yandee Shah and when she got run over I bought Ling Loo – another of the Burmese breed – for her. When I married Jennifer,
the package was reinforced with her two little male (Burmese) cats from the same litter – Felix and Oscar (Yep – the proverbial ‘Odd Couple’). When Oscar met
with fate on the road outside our Castle Hill property we got Misty – as a kitten – another of the Burmese breed and, following Felix’s exit after 17 wonderful
years, as a companion for Misty we got an havana brown Burmese cat we named Ruben. He left us, sadly, very early on by being too adventurous on the road
outside our property, like Oscar was. Misty lived on to a long, happy life as did her successor: Daisy – our first adopted and our first Tonkinese cat. Daisy lived
almost to 18 years and died late in August last. Jennifer and I had a spell before adopting two tabby kittens – a little ginger-coloured female in Cilla and a little
black & white male in Dewey – just back in March this year. Indeed, we are jointly proud Cat Lovers and we liaise with a wide international clique of Cat Lovers.
Cilla & Dewey are like ALL the cats before them: gorgeous but Children of Sorts!
Life is joyous/joyful with two playful (mostly well-behaved) kittycats in the household. I mean, they squeal like stuffed pigs for their creamy milk issue in the
mornings, but whingeing cats go with the proverbial territory. They demand and get attention – every which way. I actually happen to believe that having luvly
pets in the contemporary household is conducive to relative happiness + good health + sound mind + longevity.
That said, as a human being keen to live a long life, I have had to seriously restructure my diet and exercise regime in the first 7 months of 2017. In short: I have
adapted (per 5½: 1½) the famous Dr Michael Mosley Fast Diet – the legendary 5:2 Plan. I have written my program for Males of The Species and have circulated same on a limited distribution basis to date. Countering obesity is, for me, manageable. What’ve been continuing personal health problems though have been (a) bad cholesterol readings; (b) vitamin ‘D’ deficiency and (c) a tricky reflux valve. However, I may be on a winning way in addressing ALL three departments at once having discovered and starting taking lecithin capsules. Time will Tell – Watch this Space!
It is a pity that old-age and deteriorating health – mainly – over the past year has claimed the lives of so many of my Contacts. Not as many as in the previous
two reports (2015 & 2016), fortunately, but additions to The Passing Parade of Richard Neville, Rhonda Turner, Hugo Valdivia, Eric Russell, Barbara McGarity,
John Siddons, Peter North (nom de plume: Tom Morrow), Brian Coldwell, Ken Sparkes, John Papworth, Wayne Duncan, Shirley Haas, Les Green, Peter Bates,
Stephanie Britton, Bill Leak, John Clarke, Bob Francis, Jack Fahy, John Hirst & Dave Bridge.
In the same category as old-age and deteriorating health is retirement. Now, this subject rears it’s ugly head quite often still. But the word is NOT in my lexicon – and neither can it be as I explained fully-enough last year: I have a calling; I have a vocation-for-life! The Cause.
My latest calendar year extended from 1 August last and these were the highlights of the period:
• 1st September: Former Greens Senator and Federal Parliamentary Leader, Bob Brown was the 2016 (11th) Wattle Day Luncheon Guest Speaker at Lachlan’s
Restaurant, Old Government House, Parramatta Park (Sydney)…Bob is an aficionado of Wattle Day and spoke glowingly of the need to instigate a National Public Holiday on this day each year – uniformly Australia-wide – to replace the Queen’s Birthday annual holiday. *Bob’s personal point-of-view (NOT Greens policy) just happens to coincide with Republican Party policy apropos Wattle Day!
• 3rd – 7th October at Diamond Beach on the mid- North Coast of NSW for the UMpteenth honeymoon-holiday with my bride, Jennifer…on the 5th instant we
celebrated our Pearl Wedding Anniversary – a testament to 30 fabulous years of marriage! So we’re “Pearlers” huh! A picturesque and mostly UNspoilt part of
coastal New South Wales that I had never been to before – in ALL my Oz-wide travels! The bushfires, though, were a worry – as they kept creeping forth to our
Emerald Beach Resort during our stay!
• 19th January – 15th February to South America and back for the second time. Jennifer originated a comprehensive plan which mostly saw us going to places that we did not get to last time – in 1999. In Ecuador we visited the extraordinary Galapagos Islands (where we swam with the sea lions several times) + Guayaquil + Quito. Momentous was the Train Cruise right UP through the Avenue of the Volcanoes and the visiting of the Centre of the Earth [at the intersection of zero degrees latitude with zero degrees longitude] museum and sights attaching to same. In Chile we made it to enchanting Valparaiso + the amazing Atacama Desert where the Valleys of the Moon and Mars + the Tatio Geysers have to be experienced to be believed. In Argentina we marvelled at the vibrancy of Salta + Cafayate + Mendoza – All the while in both Chile & Argentina visiting quite fabulous wineries and taking “adventurous” bus and car journeys. The Andes border crossings of Jama, formerly, and Paso Los Libertadores, latterly, involved tediously long Customs delays, UNfortunately. Then there was – especially in rural Chile – the constancy of bushfires which played havoc with our bronchial systems. But, just so many wonderFULL memories – including the air travel to and fro the South American continent and in and during our three designated countries this time around.
• 26 February at Wantirna South (Melbourne): Shadoz #9 rendezvous with some of the still-surviving old Shadows-style musicians…Kim Humphreys starring.
• The number of Firsts: (a) pedicure; (b) a favourable ‘mention’ by Gerard Henderson in his ‘Media Watch Dog’ weekly bulletin #371 on 28 July; (c) text messaging – Delia Obst in Adelaide being my initial recipient; (d) Celebrity Member of The RPA in one Dave Hughes – Yes “Hughesy” – on 11th August; (d) FaceBook entry on 16th August on the ‘hot button’ issue of marriage equality; (e) Post-Nuptial Agreement on 5th November with my bride, Jennifer and (f) Social Media Workshop – courtesy of effervescent Queenslander, Mel Kettle – on 28th April.
I acquired four new statuses: (a) The Torchbearer – courtesy of Gavin Begbie; (b) The Wordsmith – courtesy of Jack Docwra; The Visionary – courtesy of John
Tanti and The Statesman – courtesy of Jennifer Gwen… ALL very flattering, to say the least.
Oh, and I continued my ‘doctor-shopping’ – being as I am a Man who believes in Double Insurance! I now have another female GP in Alison Ryan.
Atta Boy…I kept UP my eternal linkage with Peugeot automobiles with a changeover of my white model #308 for a midnite blue model #508 – a delightful and
UPlifting experience! It may well be the last petrol-generated car I own. Time Will Tell.
Completing the general reportage there is the never-ending story which is the furtherment of the grassroots Republican campaign as championed by The Writer:
(a) second and third meetings of the Committees for the Victorian State Republic in Melbourne; (b) the inaugural meeting of the Committee for the South
Australian State Republic in Adelaide; (c) the 31st Annual Republican Convention at Shepparton (Northern Victoria) where no less than 7 new policies were
initiated including a revolutionary one on Housing Affordability; a compassionate one on Voluntary Euthanasia; a sensible one on Hardening the Currency;
a broadranging one on Parliamentary & Electoral Reform; a pragmatic one on De-Growth and attendant Productivity; an equitable one on merging the
ABC & SBS; an even-handed Womens’ Manifesto – along the lines of Anne Summers’ 2017 Position Paper; (d) the commencement of an essential combined
history of The RPA + the ARM + the Real Republic organisations; (e) the Republican of the Year Dinner for ex- Australian Democrats Senator and Parliamentary Leader, Natasha Stott Despoja, at the terrific Republic Cafe, South Yarra in inner-suburban Melbourne; (f) The drafting, printing and distribution of ‘State of the Republican Nation Report #7’ and (g) the Re-Registration of The RPA with the Australian Electoral Commission – which was no mean feat! The Reader has gathered that Victoria is the ‘focus’ State for The Cause, non? Yep, I had three extended trips to Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory over late 2016 and the first half of 2017 and, in that time also, the National Executive of The RPA held two Extraordinary General Meetings (#18 & #19) ..worthy and mildly successful venturing, overALL. Of course, this blurb is Wattle Day Newsletter #12. My tally of annual personal republican involvements takes some time and effort to compile in the Winter months each year – this year of 2017 being no exception. SOME THING!
The colour items following speak for themselves…