To: Friends, Colleagues, Supporters, Rellies & Customers (as addressed)
Coincidence, plays its part in everyone’s life – to a lesser or greater extent – and the back-story to the heading of The Writer’s latest (annual) Wattle Day newsletter should be testament enough to the opening assertion. And moreso the case as said assertion should explain why there is – and has been since the
ascension of the current Chairman of the ARM [‘Fitzy’] to that role cum position – a Stand-Off situation which obtains in the Australian Republican scheme of things. You see, Peter C has a network of friends/contacts nationwide and in March of this ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ second year of Covid-19 a fellow named Tony from a rural Victorian township was able – between New South Welsh and Victorian lockdowns – to fly to Norfolk Island for a combined conference + holiday week from early in that month. Whilst way out there in the Pacific Ocean, Tony was invited to the conference dinner on the night of Friday, 5th March at which Fitzy was the Guest Speaker. Fitzy spelt out his preferred model for an Australian Republic whilst speaking in support of his latest book authorship on the renowned aviator, Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith. Being also invited to the conference venue’s Morning Tea session on the following Sunday Morning, the 7th, Tony made it his business to meet Fitzy and took the opportunity to ask him, as a wellknown Oz republican, if he knew Peter Consandine. The angry response was: “Yes, Sir, I do know Peter Consandine…and let me tell you, Sir, Peter Consandine is a danger for the Australian Republic; Peter Consandine is dangerous to the cause of Australian Republicanism”. So, yes, a coincidence – if an indirect one; perhaps a back-handed compliment but, decidedly, a very clear indication of enmity.
It is, too, a coincidence that the 16th edition of The Writer’s annual epistle is being written in the Spring month of September and post-Wattle Day itself – although, in actual fact, it is a strategic delay. It means that the Luncheon that is staged every 1st September or thereabouts has been cancelled with very little likelihood of a postponed date in, say, October. Lamentably, it also means that the planned away-holiday cum round trip with Peter’s bride and partner-for-life, Jennifer, to ‘the Corner Country’ – far North-Western NSW – has had to be fully-cancelled. The Writer is cognisant that the gummint restrictions associated with “addressing” the Covid-19 pandemic has wrecked the best-laid plans of many of his fellow-Australians. But, Bugger It!
Coincident with the dreaded pandemic has been the departure from this life of a record number of contacts and/or associates [=70] over the past convoluted year. The Writer is really sad in this Passing Parade section to farewell in acknowledgement: John Fahey + Susan Ryan* + Helen Reddy + Giles Auty + Douglas Scott + Quentin Waugh + Barry Pyne + Eddie Van Halen + Max Merritt + Johnny Nash + Paul Murphy + Gerald Stone + Mungo MacCallum + Michael Stannard + Peter Doyle + Glennis Riddington + Jack & Auriel Seager + Chris Murphy ( the former InXS Manager) + Francis Conlon + Martin Yeomans + Geoff Jermy + Myra Keating + Colin Carson + Geoff Dyer + Gwen Wheatley + Vic Hocking (a.k.a. VJ King) + John (“Brenno”) Brennan + Doug Parkinson + Robert Ely + Barry Thompsett + Bill Holland + Mason Gaffney + Tommy Raudonikis + Don Shields + Lorrae Desmond + Chrissy Sharp* + Mike Gowan + Howard Sattler + Mike Bailey + Steven Horwitz + Rob McAlpine + Ingrid Marshall + Brian (“Butch”) Baker + Christine Carew + Brian Day + Alan Tomlinson + John Hehir + Annie Stewart + Esther Mendels + Salvatore Pacella + Michael Rappo + Barbara Vartanian + Murray Borrell + Garry Parkinson + Dennis Deegan + Ossie Doherty + Ray Hamnett + Bianca Haszard + Richard Harcourt + Brian (“Hendo”) Henderson + Jimmie Rodgers + Ernie Sigley + Paul Terry + Colin Loughnane + Mike Downes + John Harrigan + Keith Hammond + Jim Delkou + Alma Mathie. Far too many! Jennifer has predicted that, as one gets older, the number will continue to grow. But as Paul Newman once said: “Nobody gets out of life alive”!
*mentioned further on in this newsletter.
Well, the year @ pro rata emanated from Monday, 17th August, 2020 when The Writer put no less than 2447 Wattle Day Newsletters #15 in to the post…the annual mailout also just continues to grow. Alas!
On Wattle Day, 1st September 2020 the 15th Annual Wattle Day Luncheon proceeded – with some spacing restrictions at Le Coq Rotisserie Restaurant at Rozelle, NSW 2039. Stand-In Guest Speaker, Brett Kelly, gave a rousing talk to the gathering on the topic of ‘LEADING & RUNNING a BUSINESS in a COVID WORLD’.
On 19th September, The RPA nominated John Hirst as ‘Republican of the Year 2020 In Memoriam’. A worthy, albeit late recognition.
On 22nd September, Colin Stephens was appointed as the new Convenor of the Victorian State Chapter of The RPA.
On 6th October long-time best across-the-road neighbours ever, Jean & John McCartney, moved away to Mount Coolum on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. They’ll be missed.
Between 12th and 19th October, Jennifer and The Writer holidayed Intrastate on a short get-away holiday through the Lower Hunter Valley, Gloucester, Thunderbolt’s Way, Walcha, Armidale, the so-called Waterfalls Way, Dorrigo, the Tablelands Village, Bellingen, Nambucca Heads to Port Macquarie. Of course, at the very last stopover point Jennifer & Peter visited the enchanting Koala Hospital and made yet another substantial donation to the institution ‘cos the wonderful, indeed iconic koalas are in need of ALL the attention and assistance they can attract. Peter thinks latterly that it would be quite remiss of him to NOT recognise the “ambulance carriers” Colin & Pam Pateman of Armidale who assisted Jennifer in getting Peter back to the top of the range on the Point Lookout Walk. This was one of those occasions when Peter’s fitness absolutely failed him.
On 24th October, astonishingly, Yvonne (“Vonnie”) Barnett, Peter’s 3rd de facto wife, “re-appeared” in his life. Peter had been previously mis-informed that she’d met with fate in horrible circumstances in South Africa back in 2013. The situation in The RSA is still dire.
On 4th December: Launch of RPA Campaign Bulletin #49.
Into 2021 and on 19th of January The Writer lodged with the Federal Government’s official website The RPA’s Submission for a Royal Commission in to the broken Australian Federation – more particularly, seeking at least a Capital ‘I’ Inquiry in to the establishment of the ‘National Cabinet’ where there has been inexorable “roguish” behaviour by ALL of the State Premiers – ‘going ALL Provincial’ – since which has amounted to a clear undermining of Section #92 of the Australian Constitution.
On 6th April The Writer was interviewed by 2 SER-FM radio’s Jarred Cross on the importance and relevance of the celebration of Anzac Day going in to the future.
On 10th April the death at 99 years of age of the Queen’s long-time husband, consort & confidante, The Duke of Edinburgh (“Phil the Greek” to the disrespectful masses) was announced. For many a long day The Writer thought that this inevitable event would be catalystic for the Oz Republic but it, seemingly, wasn’t.
From 16th – 18th April Colin Stephens came to stay at RPA Headquarters.
24th April: Stand-By talks with the Secular Party of Australia regarding possible amalgamation commenced. Optional. theoretical talks with the personnel that matter in the revived Western Australian Republican Party were, simultaneously, held. Nothing came of either, as it happens.
26th April: The Writer’s left hip was bionically replaced thus giving him the status of ‘Bionic Man, twice over’! The ‘prepping’ for the operation was endless. And the rehabilitation and recovery regime to follow has been debilitating – to say the least! Yes, Sirree…Pain Management is ‘trumps’ at Hubtopia.
13th May: The Writer thought it was significant that Labor Federal Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese (“Albo”) in his 2021 Budget-in-Reply speech did NOT plump for an Australian Republic. Oh, he did advocate for Indigenous Australians being recognised in an amended Australian Constitution, though. Albo is being ultra-cautious ‘cos already there are rumblings in the Labor ranks.
10th June: Launch of RPA Campaign Bulletin #50.
25th June: Finalisation of arrangements for the 40th Anniversary Dinner of The RPA’s founding were made at Katoomba (‘Capital City’ of the world famous Blue Mountains). The 34th Annual Convention of the twice already postponed event will conveniently occur on Saturday, 28th May in 2022.
30 June: The Writer approached 6 Constitutional Lawyers viz: John Nethercote + George Williams + Tony Whitlam + Greg Craven + Helen Irving + Anne Twomey for an opinion on The RPA ‘s Direct-Election model for the Australian Republic. So far, only George Williams has – positively – responded.
1st August…it was learnt this morning that today was the (fairly) newly-declared ‘NATIONAL TREE DAY’. Great! Along with the day being the recognised Australian-bred horses’ birthday, Wattle Day’s exclusivity apropos 1st September should be somewhat more secure than previously.
8th August…it was learnt this morning that today was the newly-declared ‘International Day of the Cat’. A special “Hip Hip Hooray” declared for our terrific & precious ginger tabby cat: Cilla.
19 August: Launch of the Real Republic Australia’s ‘Roadmap for Real [Constitutional] Reform’…in other words, the RRA’s plan to achieve – Ultra-Democratically – a Directly-Elected Oz Republican Presidency. The RPA, with a refinement or two would be “in sync” with this plan.
25th August…it was learnt this morning that the Federal Liberal Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison (“Sco-Mo”) supported 100% by Federal Labor’s Albo, has introduced into the National Parliament changes to the Electoral Laws which, essentially (a) shall require ALL political parties to have at least 1500 validated Members on their books in future – UP by a 1000 and (b) will make it much harder for political parties other than majoritarian collectives to both gain and maintain registration. ‘Most ANTI-democratic, to be sure! But, for The RPA, pro tem, a ‘blessing’ insofar as the grassroots Republican Party won’t be obliged to field candidates in the coming/next federal election – allowing The RPA to (a) secure again re-registration for the federal election to follow whilst, in the intervening period (b) shape UP to the elitist-cabalist ARM who, any time soon, are expected to release their new/latest model for the Oz Republic. The most important advantage for The RPA is, pretty much, that The Quest can ‘stay in the black’, resources-wise.
30th August… Release of the ideal new anthem for the International Covid-19 Times by Rock Legend Eric Clapton viz: ‘This Has Gotta Stop’.
Along with ALL the negativity and despair writ large, The Writer had a great personal year and a bit. Moreover, because from straight after the 2020 Wattle Day Luncheon, Peter could begin in earnest to write his memoirs – a project that could well be a 5-year long assignment. This is because, in to the bargain, Peter is committed to writing UP the definitive history of grassroots Oz Republicanism since the Founding of The RPA on 10th January, 1982 – going-on 40 years ago! Peter is toying with some of the following headings: ‘NOT QUITE a CAREER!’; ‘THE OUTSIDER as PATRIOT’; ‘IT STANDS to REASON’ and ‘BORN ALLOWED’. It is handy that The Writer has kept a day-by-day diary since 1st January, 1964.
Peter had some momentous one-to-one meetings with (a) Centenarian Jewish Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku; (b) former broadcaster and (now) renowned author, Mike Carlton; (c) then regular ‘Speccie’ columnist, Giles Auty, and (d) former Lead Singer of the Twilights + Axiom + Little River Band, Glenn Shorrock. Along the way Peter developed closer friendships with the likes of Jim Cryer + Cameron Shamsabad + Andrew Ford + Dan Floros + Matthew Phillips + Jeff Grimshaw + Shann Turnbull + Viv Forbes + Jim Simpson + Andrew (“Billy”) Baxter + Trevour Hains-Wesson
+ Kevin Lindeberg +Tony Clarke + Charles Kovess + Jim Hacquoil + new next-door neighbours Dean Robinson and his vivacious partner Julie (“Frenchie”) Bordet. Disappointments in the “friendship development” stakes occurred but ‘false starts’ simply ‘go with the territory’!
It was a sterling year for an avid book-reader such as Peter. The following is a list of just some of the books Peter got to read and which he recommends to Others: ‘THE RISE & FALL of the NAZIS’ by Martyn Whittock; ‘THE ORIGINS of TOTALITARIANISM’ by Hannah Arendt; ‘THEA ASTLEY: INVENTING HER OWN WEATHER’ by Karen Lamb; ‘THE CANADIAN MANIFESTO’ by Conrad Black; two books recommended to Peter by Giles Auty in the run UP to his death namely ‘INTELLECTUALS’ by Paul Johnson and ‘THE BLACK BOOK of COMMUNISM’ written by six French academics and translated in to English and which was the hardest book Peter has ever red; ‘ELIZABETH & ELIZABETH’ by Sue Williams; ‘FLASH JIM’ by Kel Richards; ‘THE PLAGUE’ by Albert Camus but translated in to English by Stuart Gilbert; ‘DIETRICH BONHOEFFER: IN the MIDST of WICKEDNESS’ by Janet & Geoffrey Benge and ‘THE HAPPIEST MAN on EARTH’ by Eddie Jaku. Fortunately, Peter found time also to read two of Fitzy’s tomes: ‘KOKODA’ and ‘BREAKER MORANT’ amongst many others.
Peter made it his business to research the Life & Times of the only identifiable Oz Republican during the series of Constitutional Conventions held in the late 19C: Andrew Inglis Clark, a Tasmanian Statesman who could readily personify the ‘truest patriotism’ in the building of the Australian Nation. The Australian Senate staged an ALL-Day conference on Friday, 8th November, 2013 featuring Clark exclusively. A transcript of ALL the eminent speakers’ contributions was ultimately published as PAPERS on PARLIAMENT #61 of May, 2014. And what a fantastic read it is – re-read in Peter’s case. Variously, Clark was acknowledged as ALL of the following: a “nationalist and a republican” (Henry Reynolds); an “ardent admirer of one of the three great Italian Giuseppes of the Nineteenth Century: the nationalist, democrat, republican and promoter of ‘Ideal Republicanism’ Giuseppe Mazzini” (David Headon); “one of the visionaries – if NOT architect – of the Australian Republic when – as it ultimately must – it finally comes about” (Helen Irving); “undoubtedly a republican by inclination” (John Williams); “the intensity of his republican and liberal sentiments was evident from his early days in politics” (Robert French). One very salient revelation at this November 2013 Conference was that Clark had wanted to have included in the Australian Constitution a Bill of Rights.
However, as learned contributor, the former South Australian Premier, John Bannon, made known: if Clark – as a ‘White Australia’/White Supremicist aficionado – had been successful in that gambit, Australia’s present-day activist indigenous population would not have a snowball’s chance in hell of being recognised in the Australian Constitution. What was also mostly unknown about Clark was his penchant for the land and commensurate tax policies of Henry George for both bringing about efficient raising revenue methods and inherent social change in Australia. Thus, Clark was a Georgist!
Whereas Jennifer & Peter ‘caught’ quite a few live orchestral concerts amidst the ‘chopping & changing’, theatre-going was mainly a general ‘non-event’ and, as a result, there was continuing disappointment. Nevertheless, as was the case last year, they had Netflix, ABC I-View and the SBS-On Demand streaming media to ‘fall back on’. Peter prides himself on watching ALL 134 episodes of the 9 series of ‘SUITS’ and quite believes the theme of the storyline is part of him which [tongue-in-cheek] “explains” why Fitzy deems him to be ‘dangerous’! ‘SUITS’ made for riveting television and its debonair lead actor, Gabriel Macht, played the main character of the series Harvey Specter with aplomb. But for engrossing television the ‘On-the-Road with Brian Johnson’ 6-part series ‘took the proverbial cake’…the former Lead Singer of AC/DC, Johnson – in his inimitable ‘Geordie’ style – interviewed topflite international music industry Over-Achievers Billy Joel + Dolly Parton + Mick Fleetwood + Mark Knopfler + Joe Walsh + Paul Rodgers and elicited lotsa otherwise UNknown information…an eye-watering, stupendous, UNforgettable, segmented documentary series.
Sport played its part with 2 very memorable occasions to record: On Holiday Monday, 14th June Peter rocked on out to the SCG to watch and cheer on his beloved Collingwood Magpies AFL team as they took on the then 2021 Competition front-runners, the Melbourne Demons and beat the Dees by 17 points. 2021 has been a Season from Hell for The Woodsmen which saw ‘Favourite Son’ and, coincidently, Peter’s All-Time AFL Sporting Hero, Nathan Buckley, coach his very last game for The Pies. A very nice ‘touch’ at game’s end was re-meeting UP with another Collingwood Legend, Paul Licuria, for a meaningful discussion regarding ‘where to from here’. On 11th July, Peter stayed UP all night to watch (on television, of course) Ashleigh Barty win the Ladies’ Wimbledon Tennis Final and retain her World #1 ranking therewith. What a graceful, dignified even dainty champion ‘Ash’ is…right UP there with her mentor Evonne Goolagong Cawley!
The ‘standout’ television event occurred on the ABC-TV’s ‘Q & A’ program on the night of 9th November when there was a ‘showdown’ debate between former Republican of the Year, Paul Kelly, and the ‘tagteam’ of Malcolm Turnbull & Jenny Hocking. The debate topic was just how ‘revealing’ the so-called ‘Palace Letters’ were in implicating the Queen in the lead-UP to the Dismissal of the Gough Whitlam Labor Government in November, 1975. Objectively, Kelly won: “hands down”!
It cannot be ‘put on hold’ any longer – the matter of the Chairmanship of The RPA’s rival Oz Republican organisation viz. that of Fitzy at the Australian Republic Movement. The Writer’s starting point is the blog he wrote some 10 months after Fitzy ascended to the top position in August 2015. The blog in question is reproduced-in-entirety below. Not a word has been changed but the asterisks have been added to the
names of two highly regarded but now deceased Oz Republicans viz. Susan Ryan* & Chrissy Sharp*mentioned in the narrative.
Appointment of Peter FitzSimons as ARM Chair was a Mistake
Shortly after Peter FitzSimons (Fitzy for short) delivered his first address to the National Press Club (NPC) in August, 2015, a friend (Brian) wrote and asked me if I was going to “pack down and push together with Fitzy to get the Republic across the line”?
I responded that, quote: “My early thinking is that Fitzy may not have been the best appointment as the [new] Chair of the ARM”.
To another friend (Fred) who wrote to me a few days later with, essentially, the same enquiry, I was a fraction more expansive…I told Fred that I thought – from a positive stand-point: “The ARM in ALL of its [then] 24 year history has never appointed a prominent Australian female as Chair of the lobby group. I would, for starters, proffer one very competent woman: Allison Henry. (Now) Alli has been an active, subordinate Officer of the ARM in the past. She could have been selected, albeit she operates her business and resides well removed (on the FNC of NSW) from a main capital city e.g. Sydney, Canberra OR Melbourne”.
After 10 months of the ARM Chairmanship, Fitzy has – as a crowd-stirrer – brought considerable momentum to The Quest. This has been possible because (a) he had ‘duds’ as the previous two Chairmen and (b) he was starting from a very low base. But, with his very ‘blokey’ style, Fitzy has also brought considerable opprobrium to The Quest. In fact, it could be true (or NOT) that the ARM has quintupled its membership whilst the nation as-a-whole has dramatically lost support for and interest in The Republic if the proper, objective analysis of the February/March 2016 OmniPoll qualitative research is the yardstick.
Anyway, my first inclinations are clearly correct. The time has come for a prominent Australian female to head the ARM. Allison Henry – the above-stated woman – would or could be the ‘stepping-stoner’. However, the likes of successful, indeed popular Australian women e.g. Geraldine Doogue, Sarrah Le Marquand, Wendy McCarthy, Susan Ryan*, Helen Irving, Di Yerbury, Chrissy Sharp* or even Lucy Turnbull would and could, over a rather short elapsement of time, “win over” the women of Australia – those hundreds of thousands who do not want to even consider a patriotic change and who, very understandably, would prefer the adherence to the status quo over some jingoistic, fraudulent, ANTIdemocratic, yobboish, ranting, bovver-boy process as presented/served UP by Fitzy.
Blog #1 of 1 June, 2016…Writer: PETER CONSANDINE of The RPA
The Writer holds to the view that, even at this late stage in proceedings, ALL along his affirmative positing of a prominent woman/female to head the ARM would be the best way forward. The Writer’s 2021 replacements for Ryan* & Sharp* in the recommendation stakes would be Kristina Keneally & Maggie Beer who are – both – excellent choices. That’s ALL, on this subject, for now folks!
Regular readers would know that Peter Consandine is NOT only a studious Peter FitzSimons and the ARM watcher but a keen watcher of The Firm/The Royal Family. In the first week of July, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee pageant program was launched and the British people, one expects, are looking forward to next year  when Her Maj celebrates 70 years on the throne. The interesting thing is if she lives and serves for another 2½ years longer [in to 2024 or so] she will become the record-holder monarch – outliving, and therefore outserving the still-present record-holder monarch who happens to be King Louis XIV – the well-remembered, popular ‘Sun King’ – of France. The ongoing major concern though for The Monarchy in general and Lilibet in particular, is her reported ‘favourite son’, Andrew, who has had in New York, USA, a lawsuit filed against him by the Attorney for one Virginia Roberts Giuffre accusing the Duke of York of raping the woman in question when she was 17 years of age. Now, in a remarkably foolish television interview last year, Andrew asserted that he “didn’t sweat” – a claim the woman made about his habit of “sweating” during sexual performance. Giuffre would rightfully know on this matter given that, allegedly, the Queen’s 2nd son had sexual intercourse with her on 3 occasions at least. Andrew, who couldn’t possibly be considering a trip across the proverbial ditch to America any time soon, whilst keeping a very low profile, is probably sweating a lot of the time, these days.
At least in the past coupla issues, Peter has given a fillip to the aging and longevity subject. This issue is no exception ‘cos when reading Diane Keaton’s memoir [’THEN AGAIN’] he spotted a few very quotable quotes. For instance, Keaton recalled meeting her fave-rave, Audrey Hepburn, when the then Super Star of movies was 48. Now, Hepburn died of cancer when she was 63 and it had a demoralising effect on Keaton who admits on learning of Hepburn’s death: “I couldn’t get my mind off age and what it does to a person”. With that she quoted Cher who maintains the following aphorism: “there is only value in having the look you have when you are young and no value to the look you have when you are older”. Hepburn certainly had marvellous good looks when she was 48. Keaton holds that: “it’s a backwards game when you get old” and late in her memoir she opines thus: “life is starting to chip away at me…this living stuff is a lot – too much and not enough; half empty and half full”. Very poignant. Of Course, the expert on ‘getting on in years’ is the Old Stager herself, Bette Davis, who won Academy Awards for her roles in 1935 for ‘DANGEROUS’ and 1938 for ‘JEZEBEL’. Davis, who lived to the age of 81, when the roles in films were diminishing, stated with almighty certainty: “Old Age is NO Place for Sissies” interchangeably with “Getting Old AIN’T for Sissies”. A warning Peter finds himself quoting from time to time.
As the Registered Officer of The RPA, Peter gets sent to him – pretty much monthly by the AEC – the current/UP-to-Date electoral roll. ‘Tis advantageous in respect of party spreadsheet efficiency and UPkeep. Peter observed in the August Elias Cycle #285 that former Australian Democrats New South Wales MLC, Elisabeth Kirkby, was still alive and on Australia Day this year became a prestigious Centenarian – having been born in 1921. Peter fondly remembers her from his career days in Social Education in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Gosh, getting to 100 is quite an achievement. Onya, Elisabeth. Hey!
Just as it was coincident last time, it has been another blockbuster of a year for neologists like The Writer. New terms and words included fear porn; sanguinocrat; nudge units/nudge theory/nudging; clickbait; robodebt; affixia; lockdown; access capitalism; micro-aggression; ping/pinging; gain of function; buy-out (with or without the hyphen); tag-team (also with or without the hyphen); swishy/swisho; eye candy; downer context; positionjockeying; schoolmarmery; toxic culture; empurpled; staycation; salonista; meritocrat; unconscious bias;
performative; petro-masculinity; troll/trolled; gaslighting; doom-scrolling; asymptomatic; skunked and linguistic engineering.
This issue is the most compact yet but, irrespective, The Writer is including a batch of cartoons he picked UP along the way – humour being the Spice of Life.
ALL Good Getting to The Readership until next time – if there is one! Stay Safe but most of ALL Stay Sane – there’s a way to go before ANY kind of ‘Old Normal;’ returns!!