Saturday, 30 January 2010

Tribute to the Martyrs Arash Rahmanipour and Mohammadreza Alizamani

Iran, 28th January 2010

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Two Iranian Monarchists hanged

Arash Rahmanipour (19) and Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani (37) were hanged on 28th January 2010

The execution of two men charged with crimes in connection with alleged membership in "illegal anti-government organizations", and the announcement of death sentences for nine other persons arrested for protest activities, are part of a growing wave of political executions in the Islamic Republic, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.

Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani (37) and Arash Rahmanipour (19) were executed on 28th January 2010. According to his indictment, Zamani´s conviction for the capital crime of Mohareb, or "taking up arms against God," was based on his membership in the pro-Royalist group, Anjoman-e Padeshahi-e Iran, and on allegedly meeting in Iraq with United States operatives and receiving money from a source based in the US, all for the purpose of instigating unrest in Iran. According to his lawyer, the other defendant, Arash Rahmanipour, had been forced to confess to membership in the same group.

"Given the high number of political prisoners and the spike in capital punishment since protests began, the threat of a great number of political executions is acute," according to Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Campaign.

Leading Iranian clerics and politicians have repeatedly called for harsh punishments, including the death penalty, for protesters, and for legal measures to expedite executions.

Iranian authorities executed two Kurdish men, Ehsan Fattahian and Fasih Yasamani on 11th November 2009 and 6th January 2010, respectively, after trials that did not meet international standards and a failure to present evidence that linked them to capital crimes. Fattahian´s sentence was imposed by an appeals court. Shirin Alam Holi, a female Kurdish activist, was sentenced to death earlier in January. Around 20 other Kurdish political activists have received death sentences.

Neither of the men executed today were involved in the political protests following the disputed June 2009 presidential elections, and the Campaign believes their cases were opportunistically mixed into mass trials of protesters because of their association with highly unpopular insurgent groups.

"It may be assumed that these executions were choreographed both to intimidate Iranian citizens from participating in further demonstrations, and to create a mental opening for the execution of demonstrators," Rhodes said.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, while opposing the death penalty in all cases, deplores the excessive use of the punishment in the Islamic Republic, particularly since the June 2009 protests began. The Campaign calls upon the Iranian Judiciary to institute an immediate moratorium on executions, in line with the United Nations General Assembly moratorium approved in 2007.

The BBC also reported on the executions.
The Crown vs. The DPP

Without any public discussion Attorney-General and then Acting Premier Rob Hulls on 16th December 2009 announced a major change in Victoria’s legal system: "From New Year's Day, criminal prosecutions will be brought in the name of the Director of Public Prosecutions, rather than the Queen." RadicalRoyalist commented on this act of "creeping republicanism" here and here.

While the Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition in the Victorian Parliament, Ted Baillieu, and Peter Ryan, Leader of The Nationals keep refusing to explain their position on the replacement of The Crown in Victorian Prosecutions by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DDP), the RadicalRoyalist obtained a statement from a - as it happened - republican lawyer.

For fear of professional drawback he asked not to be named. His quest for anonymity is certainly honoured.

No one seems to care all that much - but I do believe words mean something and "DPP vs." means something I do not believe. Better, if you want to give [The Queen] the shove without appearing to do so (which is gutless), off the top, for Criminal P's would be perhaps: The State of Victoria vs." or perhaps "The People of the State of Victoria vs.".

As an Australian republic supporter (and having in fact sworn loyalty to the Constitution for the State of New York & the United States of America), I can not say I am at all pleased to see "Regina" replaced by the Victorian DPP in criminal prosecutions.

[Queen] Elizabeth II is still the Head of State of Victoria, isn't she? Australia and Victoria are still Monarchies, aren't they, though we seem to ignore the fact?

Criminal actions are appropriately brought in the name of and by the highest authority in the State (figurehead not) - and that's not some mate of Rob Hulls.

Criminal prosecution in New York are "(The) People vs. ..." and Victoria should remain "Queen/Regina vs. ..." until the Crown is replaced by The People as the supreme authority in the jurisdiction.
It will be interesting to see, if the Opposition in Victoria will be able to formulate an opinion on Rob Hulls' outrageous act of removing The Queen from Victoria's legal system.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The Age’s associate editor: "Forget about a republic or new flag"

It is only on a rare occasion, that I have to agree with an Age article concerning their propagating “a” republic. But today it happened. Shaun Carney, The Age’s associate editor, has written a very honest opinion piece, one that should be widely read by his fellow followers of republicanism:
Australia should become a republic. But it won't for a very long time, if ever. There's a better than even chance that the change won't come during the lifetime of any Australian alive today.

The political system, and Australians' deteriorating attitudes to politics and politicians, will see to that. The republican question is now what used to be called in the newspaper game a "hardy annual": a predictable, intrinsically inconsequential story that can be trotted out at the same time every year to little lasting effect.

This Australia Day weekend the hardy annual sprouted a little extra foliage with Ray Martin's revival of the suggestion that the nation should change its flag and ditch the Union Jack. That idea used to get around with the republican argument back in the 1990s, until republicans, excited by the prospect of a referendum aimed at ditching the monarchy, judged it to be too toxic and dumped it.

It is probably the case that a majority of Australian voters favour the idea of a republican Australia, as the polls suggest. But the numbers are not overwhelming. And there is often a big gap between what people tell pollsters and what they do. They say they want governments to provide greater services but they bitch about every extra tax dollar, for example. And Australians have not liked voting 'yes' at referendums since Federation.

In any case, what sort of republic are we talking about? There is no single view: the republican position is in a pre-adolescent state. There are minimalists and there are direct-electionists, with few real signs of an accord.

Since the 1999 referendum, when the minimalist proposal attracted 45 per cent of the vote and failed to carry one state, the direct-electionists have argued that every non-monarchist is obliged to fall in behind the idea of an elected ceremonial head of state. Speaking for myself, they are dreaming. The last thing this country needs is more elections and more politics, which is what this model would bring, no matter what they say. Certainly some minimalist republicans will shift but I would never back it.
Does this mean, The Age will stop it’s “hardy annual” on ANZAC Day or, more symbolically: Queen’s Birthday? I am afraid, that would be too much to expect. After all, all those republican writers need their payment. No articles – no money. Being an Australian republican means, you are in the business as long as the Monarchy prevails. They cannot wish “a” republic or do they really think opinion pieces praising the fabulous new order would be read by anyone?

The RadicalRoyalist remains cautious and on alert. After all he has to be, because he is using what Shaun Carney denounced as “the hit-and-run style of the blogosphere … that alone would probably be enough to sink any referendum”.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Nothing ensures a republic would pass in a referendum

Disgraced former Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, seems to be pessimistic about the chances of "a" republic being approved by Australians in a referendum.

In an opinion a piece in The Sunday Telegraph, he re-affirmed his preference for the 1999 republic model that was presented to and rejected by the people. He still strongly believes the best model would be to have the president chosen by Parliament, but acknowledges the compelling "allure" of the direct-elect model.

But it should not be assumed a direct-elect model would ensure the republic would pass, he writes: "Our experience in the the lead-up to the 1999 referendum was that whenever we discussed the issue in a focus group, large or small, support for directly electing the president plummeted as soon as people realised that a successful candidate would likely be a political partisan chosen by what would be, no doubt, a fierce political contest."

Why waste all the time, energy and - not to forget: MONEY that is invested in this republic thing? The existing constitutional arrangements give everybody room to work within the monarchical form of state, some even call this "a crowned republic".

Meanwhile, a Galaxy poll, conducted for Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd. during Prince William's visit, revealed that support for "an" Australian republic has dropped to 44 per cent from last November, when the ARM according to the ABC claimed "support for an Australian republic now stands at 59 per cent". The fall from grace is even greater, when one remembers that ARM's leader Michael Keating told spectators in a TV interview before Prince William's arrival, "80 percent of the Australians" wanted "a" republic. Wishful thinking at its best.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Costs of a presidency

We can be assured that before long will we get the bill for Prince William's unofficial visit in Australia. Republicans will triumphantly present the figures and claim that these costs would never have occurred under a republican regime, no matter how minimal they are.

Well, friends, don't be sure, because unless Australia closes its borders for visitors, there will always be costs which a host has to cover, not matter if the visitor fit to one's own ideology or not. A Chinese president does not come cheap, nor will an Irish president expect to pay her all her own expenses. It is rather impolite if a guest is presented the bill after he or she left the country.

But that is just what republicans do with royal guests in Australia.

Nothing new. So, let's look what expenses a president can cause in his own country. The figures come from the French website Observatoire des subventions.

Last week French president Nicolas Sarkozy paid a visit to the overseas departement of La Réunion to wish his subjects a Happy New Year. His 24-hour stay in the island east of Madagascar cost the French taxpayer 1.6 million Euros (=2.511 AUS $).

The president spent this sum for:

815 000 Euros on transport
Not less than four aeroplanes were used for this trip: one A319 for the president himself, another A319 for journalists and his delegation, a Falcon 50 flew empty to La Réunion, just in case, and an A310 also brought journalists and another part of the delegation to the island.

To these 815 000 Euros more costs have to be added, detailed figures are unknown, for fours helicopters that transported the president and his entourage between Saint-Pierre and Saint-Denis, the capital.

50 000 Euros for airconditioning
The Élysée Palace insisted on the installation of a new airconditioning system under the podium. It was out of the question that the president would appear with sweat marks under his arms when being seen by the public. On the other hand, the public had nothing other than the invitation card to fan fresh air into their faces.

23 000 Euros for meals
This sum does not include drinks.

17 000 Euros for the invitations
10 000 personal invitations on cardboard were sent to functionaries, party members, CEOs and other business men of La Réunion.

17 000 Euros rent for the hall
The rent for the “salle des expositions”, where Sarkozy expressed his New Year's wishes did not include lights, sound, staff costs and cleaning.

13 000 Euros for accomodation
An abnormally high price. The président de la république had chosen “l’un des plus luxueux mais aussi plus onéreux hôtel de la Réunion” (one of the most luxurious, but also most expensive hotels of La Réunion): Le Palm hôtel & Spa de Petite-Île. 55 rooms for 55 people (ministers, councillors, security staff, CEOs …).

Just as a footnote: In 2009 Nicolas Sarkozy's spent more money on garden parties than the Queen of the United Kingdom - but entertained less guests.

Saturday, 23 January 2010


The republican media had a hard week. They were obliged to report on Prince William’s unofficial visit to Australia – and its obvious success -, but then they had to find means to degrade and minimize it.

Today’s editorial of The Age is a good example. Under the headline Goodbye, sweet prince. Hello, republic debate it repeated its well-known phrases. “He left these shores yesterday morning, having earned a good amount of respect and, indeed, affection - qualities he obviously feels in return about Australia. … The Age has long believed that a crucial defining point in Australia's nationhood is the inevitable severing of vestigial ties with the British monarchy.

The Age even dug up old Turnbull from his retirement mansion, from where he wrote an article for Murdoch’s London newspaper The Times, stating 'that Prince William, for all his charms, will make as much difference to the republic debate as a rapturous welcome in the United States 'would indicate that the Americans are having second thoughts about 1776'".

Well, I don’t want to disappoint the editorialist, but would he do some research s/he would find quite a lot of US Monarchists who do have second thoughts about 1776. After all, nearly a third of those who read the RadicalRoyalist's blog are based in the USA. Need some help in getting in contact with them, dear Age?

The Age's arch-republican writer Michelle Grattan also read Murdoch’s London Times and was obviously delighted to find recycled Malcolm Turnbull phrases, Prince 'no obstacle to republic': "Prince William might be as charming a King as he was a Prince but could never represent Australia in the way he would represent his own country, Malcolm Turnbull has told a British audience. … Mr Turnbull, who headed the Australian Republican Movement when the [from the republican point of view, RR] unsuccessful referendum was held in 1999, maintains his opposition to a directly elected president, favouring a president being chosen by a bipartisan parliamentary vote.

The Age’s editorial on Prince William's departure day came across as a very grumpy piece of work. Well, could we really expect any graciousness? The Age admitted: “In personal and public relations terms, and in the eyes of many Australians whose lives he briefly touched, Prince William's whirlwind visit to Sydney and Melbourne this week has been a huge success. … He showed himself to be equally comfortable in a pub or on a military firing range as when talking with victims of disastrous bushfires. In another era, not so long ago, he would have generally been hailed by Australians as a Prince for all seasons, a thoroughly satisfactory future King.

But this editorial points the finger at the republican kerfuffle: “More serious recent setbacks to republicanism have been the byproducts of federal politics. The latest was the overthrow of Malcolm Turnbull, former leader of the republican movement, as leader of the Opposition. His replacement, Tony Abbott, has been a monarchist.” So, it was an overthrow of a failed Leader of Her Majesty’s Australian Opposition. Did he not fall by his own mistakes? He was replaced in a democratic election and not in an overthrow.

And getting rather nostalgic, The Age states in the same editorial: “For a bloke who keeps talking about the need for 'revolutions', Rudd is remarkably coy about upsetting the status quo. But all is not lost. … A massed chorus of government spinners immediately sought to howl down such a possibility. We hope that [federal Attorney-General, Robert] McClelland, the point minister, is right and that a republic referendum is still very much a live option - and not too far down the track. It certainly should be.

However, The Age, like all republicans, never admit, what they will do, should the Monarchists win the referendum again. They never contemplate defeat. That's not in their Weltanschauung. But if it should happen again, will they finally accept a democratic decision and live within the framework of a Constitutional Monarchy? Or will they continue to work on the overthrow of the Monarchy - no matter, what the people decided?

The Age’s other renowned arch-republican writer Michael Shmith searched the British media for their reaction of Prince William’s tour down under. “For all the efforts of myriad royal reporters, whose life's work is to serve as humble scribes to those with kind hearts and coronets, the fate of the William roadshow came down to the words on top of their peerless prose.” He was not impressed by The Daily Telegraph’s headline:

“'Prince William thanks Australians for their show of affection’. How nice and precise. The Sun: 'Wills has made Oz love Royals again'. This was accompanied by a short appreciation by that well-known constitutional authority, star of soap and pantomime, Jason Donovan, who says, 'What Prince William does bring is a clean slate … [he] can reinvigorate and re-invent the royal family for Australians.'” Certainly, Michael Shmith is a far greater well-known constitutional authority than Jason Donovan. But who is better known outside the republican circles? And this silly me thought everybody should have a say in the Monarchy vs. republic discussion. It seems, only republican artists are welcome to express their opinion.

Where are the letters to the editor?
In the letters to the editor section there was still no great rush to push the republican agenda. Today's Age has two meager two-sentence-statements that don't even appear online. The pro-Monarchy one was written by someone who lives in Victoria -, the other one opposing Prince William was - once again - sent in by a NSW resident, like the one and only letter on Prince William's visit that was published two days ago. Where are all the Victorian republicans?

The RadicalRoyalist is getting ready for The Sunday Age. Considering the paper's pushy republicanism, the poor subscribers will face the opinion of a well-known constitutional authority like, well, let's say, Guy Rundle, who can always be expected to promote "a" republic for Australia. How good of him. Since he has been living in the United Kingdom for some time, he really knows exactly, what is going on in Australia and what is good for us.
So, nobody is interested, huh?

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Patronizing republican

To the RadicalRoyalist's surprise, The Age has so far published very few letters to the editor concerning Prince William's unofficial visit to Australia. Here's the only one, I could find. Please note, that someone from NSW got his letter published in the Melbourne newspaper.

Why welcome him?
THE traditional Aboriginal welcome given to Prince William at Redfern (The Age, 20/1) is an embarrassment. Aborigines rightly point to their poor treatment from "the white establishment", yet tip their forelock to royalty and hand over compliments, thus tacitly and complicitly conspiring to continue their downtrodden status. Meanwhile, William is seen as a hero.

Ask yourself this: after 221 years of apartheid, what has the royal family done for Aborigines, apart from continuing the status quo? Pemulwuy, Aboriginal warrior and activist, would be rolling in his grave.
Andrew Woodhouse, Potts Point, NSW

Probably Andrew Woodhouse considers himself very progressive to advocate his republicanism. Did it cross his mind, how patronizing it is to tell the Aboriginal people whom they should welcome and in which manner?

These republicans never get it.
Prince William's Australia Day speech at Government House in Melbourne

On 21st January 2010 Prince William spoke at Government House in Melbourne to address the people at the state of Victoria's Australia Day celebrations .

I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land, the Kulin Nation, and pay my respects to their elders, both past and present. Being in Australia is the realisation of a dream.

As far back as I can remember, I have heard from my family about the wonders of Australia and the hospitality and friendship of the Australian people.

My father had such a great time here at school - and is still misty-eyed about an immortal moment on Bondi, when an Australian beauty planted a smacker on his cheek. It's good to see this tradition is continuing!

I also remember my mother coming back from her time here in 1996, telling me what a profound impression this country had made on her and how much she loved Australia. Three days here and now I know why. And of course, there's that other guy with the ginger hair, who just never ever stops banging on about you and how I haven't lived because I haven't been to Australia - blah, blah, blah.

Because of this, and because of the respect the world has for your unique way of life, your vibrancy, your straightforward ways, your classic sense of humour, I have been longing to return.

The last time I was here I was nine months old and seeing the world from a very low level; certainly not one from which to appreciate this awesome place.

What has struck me during this visit to the southern hemisphere is what "shared heritage" actually means.

It really is about core values and our way of life. It really is about humour and decency.

And it is also about courage and an ability to face down adversity. Today, on the outskirts of Melbourne, I was privileged to see the spirit of Australia in its purest, most magnificent form.

My family, along with millions around the world, followed the events of last February with a sense of horror which slowly, as the days passed, turned to one of deep, deep admiration for the steadfastness of the Australian people.

The stories of suffering I have heard today inevitably made me think about the ongoing tragedy of Haiti. Our thoughts and prayers remain with everyone there.

What an exciting place Australia is, though! This truly is a country for the 21st century. I only wish I had a little longer to see a bit more of Melbourne, this legendary city of sport and culture.

But if I may, I'll be back!

So, coming to Australia is the realisation of this long-held dream.

To be standing here, in beautiful Melbourne, on a glorious summer's afternoon, is one thing. But to be asked to address you at the state of Victoria's Australia Day celebrations is a great honour for me.

Thank you for asking me to be here and making me feel so very welcome.

Happy Australia Day.

More reports on the Prince of Wales' website.
The Prince and Uncle Scrooge

Murdoch’s empire is so blatant in its efforts to secure the biggest profit.

On the one hand, Murdoch's Melbourne based free tabloid mx proudly said on the cover: WARNING This newspaper contains no stories on Prince William.
But on the other hand, Murdoch’s other Melbourne newspaper, HeraldSun, is full of stories and photos of the Prince’s whirlwind tour through the Victorian countryside and the city.

Why put photos and reports in a throw-away newspaper, when the public is so interested in Prince William's visit? Murdoch knows how to make money and the HeraldSun is to use Prince William’s popularity and impressive presence in the country.

Murdoch wants you to buy the Royal Tour Souvenir edition ($1.10) of the HeraldSun. Murdoch may hate our Royal Family, but he still acknowledges that there is money to make buy publishing stories on them.

Michael Wolff said in his biography on THE MAN WHO OWNS THE NEWS: “A decade earlier, the vehemently anti-monarchist [Murdoch] drank himself silly on hearing of Princess Diana's death, fearful of what it would do to his Diana-dependent UK newspaper sales.”

However, on the HeraldSun’s website the photos of Prince William in Victoria can be accessed free of charge. The RadicalRoyalist highly recommends to have a look for yourself how the Victorians enthusiastically welcomed their future King.
Prince William, the charmer of Oz

On 21st January, his third day in Australia, HRH Prince William came down from Sydney to visit the Whittlesea bushfire recovery centre, in Melbourne’s north, where he quizzed Premier John Brumby on the Black Saturday (6th February 2009) blazes.

The Prince shook hands with the waiting crowd in Whittlesea, mixing with locals before the briefing. Whittlesea is about 45 kilometres north of central Melbourne and is near the bushfire-devastated town of Kinglake, where 42 people died on Black Saturday. The towns of Strathewen, Flowerdale, Arthurs Creek and St Andrews which were hit by the fires are also nearby.

Hundreds of people gathered to welcome the second in line to the Australian throne to Whittlesea.

Later in the afternoon came to Melbourne, where he gave a speech at an Australia Day reception at Government House.

But before he went inside and changed into formal dress, he got out of his car and received a cheering welcome from, well, how many were we? Certainly more than a thousand people.

The Radical Royalist came very close to the future King of Australia and took some photos.
His Royal Highness was an immensely impressive person who spent more time with his loyal Australian subjects than protocol had foreseen.

He was certainly the most stunning visitor Melbourne has had in recent years.

And it must be said again: This was an unofficial visit. Neither the Australian nor the Victorian government invited Prince William. When you look at his success during the past three days, you know why: They envy his attraction. Jealousy is a strong force. It was so obvious in Prince William's case: Politicians trundled behind and they were not in the centre of the media's attention.

That must hurt their ego.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Prince William met with officers and soldiers of the Royal Australian Regiment

On 20th January 2010, the second day of his unofficial visit to Australia, HRH Prince William, second in line to the Australian throne, met with officers and soldiers of Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR) at the Holsworthy Army Base in Sydney.

His Royal Highness Prince William receiving a gift of an Australian slouch hat from Lieutenant Colonel Trent Scott the Commanding Officer of 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.

His Royal Highness Prince William, chatting with soldiers from Alpha Company 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR).
His Royal Highness Prince William, chatting with Corporal Jeremy Kiely and soldiers from Alpha Company 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR).
His Royal Highness Prince William, receiving instructions on the AUSTYER F88c by Corporal Kyle Balfoort prior to joining a range practice at the Marksmanship Training Range, with soldiers from Alpha company 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR).

Sunday, 17 January 2010

The visit of Prince William to Australia

January 19th to 21st 2010

Below is the information to date.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 19th, 2010:

Prince William arrives at Sydney Airport

Noon: Kirribilli - Admiralty House. Lunch with the Governor-General. Guests will include prominent young Australians.

Afternoon: Sydney. Visit to the Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Centre.

The Centre runs day classes, after-school classes and activities and many other drop-in services for all ages.

Afternoon: Sydney City - Prince William will call on the Governor of New South Wales, Dr Marie Bashir at Government House.

Evening: Private


Morning: Holsworthy. Tour of Army Barracks. Join 3rd Battalion - the Royal Australian Regiment. Participate in live fire training at the marksmanship training range at the Barracks. Meet privately with Special Operations Command soldiers.

Morning: Sydney Harbour - Visit the CSIRO environmental research ship Southern Surveyor. Meet with scientists and view marine science technology oceans.

Noon: Sydney City Barbeque lunch in the Royal Botanic Gardens hosted by Kristina Keneally, Premier of New South Wales. Emphasis will be on young people.

Afternoon : Private


Morning: Visit to Bushfire affected areas. Meet with emergency services.

Community event. Meet with people who lost their homes in the tragedy.
Plant a tree as a symbol of new growth.
Attend barbeque and local sports match.

Afternoon: Visit rebuilt educational centre.

Afternoon: Melbourne City - Call on the Governor of Victoria, Prof. David de Kretser, at Government House, Melbourne. Attend Governor's Australia Day reception with Hon. John Brumby, Premier of Victoria. Plant tree in grounds of Government House.

Evening: private

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Being created a Knight “greater than receiving an Oscar”

Prime Minister John Key may not be well known outside New Zealand, but his announcement that the titles of Knight and Dame are to return to the New Zealand honours system has excited not only his electorate.

The 2010 New Year’s honours list features former NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark, film-maker Peter Jackson, businessman Douglas Myers and US philanthropist Julian Robertson. It is an irony that Helen Clark, the administrator of the UN Development Programme and who in 2000 abolished titular honours list, joins a raft of new Dames and Knights.

The National Business Review:
“Ms Clark joins the elite Order of New Zealand, which is restricted to 20 living New Zealanders and at the moment has only 17 members.

Sir Douglas Myers, 71, has long been thought to have been a knight, judging by the many descriptions over the years in the media.

He becomes a knight companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit along with Sir Peter Jackson, health professor Sir Mason Durie, senior judge Sir Bruce Robertson and educationalist Dame Lesley Max. American citizen Julian Robertson becomes an honorary knight and cannot call himself ’Sir.’

Sir Peter’s honour comes as film career recovers from a hiatus since he collected a raft of Oscars for The Lord of the Rings trilogy in 2004. His latest film, The Lovely Bones, started its New Zealand season on Boxing Day while earlier this year his production of science fiction thriller District 9 was a critical and box office hit.

His company Weta is responsible for the special effects in the blockbuster Avatar and he is deeply involved in several new films, including a Tintin series, a remake of The Dam Busters and a new version of Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

Sir Peter did not give an interview but issued a statement saying the knighthood was an "incredible moment" that was greater than receiving an Oscar.
The 85 New Zealanders who were given honours between 2000 and 2009 which used to come with a title had the opportunity to accept the title of Knight or Dame.

"The Queen has given approval for the reinstatement of titles. The changes will be finalised and come into effect in time for the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June," Prime Minister Key said in March 2009.

Recipients of the titleless honours system were poised to take titles, according to reports. Miki, the wife of Peter Snell, a three-times Olympic gold medallist, said her husband would "go with the change".

Professor Peter Gluckman, one of New Zealand's most eminent scientists, who was also be eligible, said a title was of great value in terms of gaining recognition overseas.

What have the opponents to say? Well, here’s Idiot/Savant from “No Right Turn”:
Against knighthoods
So, out of the blue, the National government has decided to restore the archaic institution of knighthoods. Talk about turning back the clock. So instead of having our own honours system which reflects our modern society and values, we'll be aping thousand-year-old institutions of oppression and aristocratic privilege. Which is the sort of thing that happens when you retain a monarchy.

Make no mistake: this is about aristocracy, it is about hierarchy, and it is about deference. None have any place in New Zealand, a country where "Jack is as good as his master". This move is deeply at odds with egalitarian kiwi values, and it exposes National's true nature as the promoters and protectors of privilege. It also exposes their cultural cringe, their sense of insecurity and crawling sycophancy to our former imperial masters. New Zealand honours aren't good enough for them. New Zealand isn't good enough for them. I humbly suggest that if they feel that way, they should piss off somewhere else. The UK still has titles. If they want one, they could always buy one there.

Still, there is a plus side: firstly, we'll be able to find out who all National's secret donors are - there's no hiding a payback knighthood behind an anonymising trust. And secondly, we can have great fun speculating on which other "worthy" New Zealanders they'll reward. "Sir" Roger Kerr, anyone? Or maybe "Dame" Diane Foreman? What about "Sir" Richard Prebble or "Sir" Don Brash? Or will we finally see "Dame" Ruth Richardson...?
Posted by Idiot/Savant at 3/9/2009
Is it really about aristocracy?
The 2010 New Year’s honours list does not create an new aristocracy, but gives visible credit to people who served their country. A money aristocracy does not need titles. Business empires are handed down to the next generation in monarchies as well as in republics, even if the latter one deem themselves “egalitarian”. Children cannot inherit a knighthood, but receive wealth from relatives, it has always been possible. The Murdochs come to mind. Or the Packers.

The equality fetishists get upset because someone receives an honorary title, but only the fiercest Marxists would address the issue of the inherited wealth. And these Marxists certainly don’t look to China for help. Even the most Stalinist country on earth, North Korea cannot offer help, because a Communist dynasty has been established and wealth, power and titles will be handed down to the next generation of the Kim family.

People are strange. They get upset by the most insignificant things. Take this example from Germany. The country’s defence minister has ten Christian names: Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jakob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester. And he even has an inherited title. He could call himself Reichsfreiherr von und zu Guttenberg, however, for practical reasons, he is addressed as Herr zu Guttenberg.

Does this make him a better politician? I don’t think so, but it also does not make him a bad politician. In September 2009 he was re-elected to the Bundestag with 68.1 percent of his electorate - a German record. His political action should be judged by his deeds, not by his name. However, reading leftist German blogs or newspaper comments one could think, this man could do nothing right, because his parents gave him ten Christian names. Should they have called him Kevin? There are already jokes about a Chancellor called Kevin (see this video).

We are all bearers of names given to us by our parents. Should an egalitarian society have any influence on this? Restrict the number of first names? Everybody would call this ridiculous. So, why do people get upset, that a country honours its scientists, its successful artists and, yes, even business leaders or sports people with three or four additional letters in front of their names? That’s beyond me.

New Zealander J Williamson of Napier said: "There is a bit of envy becoming apparent in some of these replies. By necessity this type of system is going to be based on tradition, and our history is tied up with Britain and the Queen (who is our Queen as much as their Queen!). And what is wrong with that?"

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Predictable, populist – and rather stupid

John Williams of Bendigo in Victoria wrote a letter I had expected, when I read yesterday's Age article on Prince William's schedules for the coming years. It came as no surprise that Williams’ remarks were picked by the editor of The Age and published today:

Our disloyal 'head'
PRINCE William will campaign for Britain to host the 2018 World Cup (The Age, 4/1). His Aunty Anne did the same when Melbourne last tried for the Olympic Games. Why do we still have this family as Australia's head of state when it actively works against our interests?
John Williams, Bendigo

The article referred to stated that
Prince William … is determined to spend the next few years developing his military career and working for the many charities and bodies of which he is patron.
“One of those roles, as president of England's Football Association, will bring him into direct competition with Australia, as Prince William has made it clear he wants to lobby for Britain to host the 2018 World Cup.”

So Williams and probably some other misguided minds who can’t think of anything else than sport, sport, and again sport see Prince William – and other members of our Royal Family – as actively working “against our interests”.

Have they ever spared a thought on using the prestige of the Australian Royal Family to lobby for our interests? Nobody denies Australia the right to ask for a royal patron. And which Australian football club has offered, let’s say, Prince Harry, a chairmanship?

Complaining about other people’s activities comes back as lack of one’s own activities. Am I right, John Williams?

I am sure members of our Royal Family would be only too happy to become spokespersons for Australian causes. When was the last time the Australian government asked Her Majesty to represent Australia?

On the other hand, Canada knows very well the value of the Queen’s presence and she represented the Canadian interests for example at Vimy in France. On 9th April 2007 a monument was re-dedicated to remember the bitter Battle of Vimy Ridge in which more than 3,500 Canadian soldiers died. Her Majesty was in France as Queen of Canada to preside over the ceremonies to rededicate the great Canadian Memorial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, fought ninety years ago. The refurbished memorial was originally dedicated by King Edward VIII, as King of Canada, and it stands on what will forever be Canadian land, a mark of the gratitude France bears for Canada for that great victory.

In the presence of over 15,000 Canadians, The Queen, in English and in French, paid tribute to the Canadians who took the ridge.

It was a hop from the UK to France, saving the Canadian taxpayer thousands of dollars for travel allowances.

But where is no will, there’s no way, just all too predictable and very cheap efforts to discredit royal activities.