Happy Australia Day 2024

Today is Australia Day which has been celebrated on the 26th of January since 1808 to observe the landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788 and the raising of the British Flag by Governor Arthur Phillip. By this action, the rule of British law and order was established in Australia and remains so to this day.

A few days later, on the 7th of February 1788, the colony of New South Wales was formally proclaimed by Governor Phillip. The Instructions of George III required Phillip to "endeavour by every possible means to open an intercourse with the natives and to conciliate their affections, enjoining all our subjects to live in amity and kindness with them".

(Image reproduced by permission of the NSW State Library)

The first official celebration of the formation of New South Wales was held in 1818 and was also named at times 'Anniversary Day' or 'Foundation Day', but it was not until 1935 that all Australian States and Territories adopted use of the term 'Australia Day' to mark the events of early 1788. In 1994, the 26th of January was proclaimed as a national public holiday.

Image: The first in what would become the Sydney Regatta tradition,
26 January 1838.

Coincidentally the Nationality and Citizenship Act of 1948 came into effect on the 26th of January 1949. This Act provided for non-Australian and British citizens to renounce their former citizenship and to swear allegiance to Australia and to the Crown in Australia.

Robert Menzies in a speech entitled "Kingship and Kinship" given in the City of London in 1948 spoke about the British Nationalist Act of that year warning that the "very unnecessary Act of separation performed by British Parliaments and States brings new hope to those who would destroy us and new confusions in the minds of our friends". He also said "We cannot hack away at the foundations and then express surprise when someday the house falls" (The National Review).

However, having come into effect on Australia Day 1949, the day became significant as an anniversary during which new Australian citizens could be welcomed to their new country.

The attacks on the 26th of January over recent years are not about moving the date but more about abolishing the fruits that came about by the original British settlement in this country.

The fact is, however powerful one is, no one can erase history. What happened, has happened and we must always celebrate the good whilst being sad for the bad and one cannot get away from the fact that, that tiny settlement of a few hundred people in the largest single continent on Earth, guided by the British rule of law and British democracy under the Crown, created what is undeniably one of the leading nations in the world today.

The immense achievements of colonial explorers, settlers and early entrepreneurs, most of whom arrived, after 1788, should never be discarded but should rather be valued as an integral part of Australia's history. If those who would abolish Australia's history actually lived for a time in the era before the British arrived, it might make them appreciate what a great country we live in today, instead of trying to denigrate everything we have become.

What is also forgotten by so many is that the British freely handed over, what was a jewel in their Crown, to the people of Australia. In the late 19th century, people freely voted on and brought about a democracy under the Crown in 1901, just 113 years following the first British settlement, that, today, has made us, one of the youngest nations, into one of the oldest surviving democracies in which all Australians, whatever their race or religion, are equal one to another.

That is what should be acknowledged, not the divisive anger leading to the tearing down and vandalism of statues of great people past. That sort of thing should have no place in the Australia of today.

Let us therefore celebrate what we are today, a democratic and free Australia under the Australian Constitution and Crown.

I wish all a very happy Australia Day 2024.

Yours sincerely

Philip Benwell
National Chair
Australian Monarchist League

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Monday, 24 June 2024

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