Who knew that it only took Australia well over 60 years after Federation to drop the word “British” from our passports. Apron strings indeed. It may or may not be a coincidence that Prime Minister Robert Menzies, self-confessed Anglophile, resigned as PM and retired from the parliament in 1966.
The word British has been dropped from Australian passports currently being printed. The Minister for Immigration, Mr Snedden, said yesterday the word had been deleted to avoid misunderstandings, and this did not foreshadow any change in Australia’s relations with Britain. Australia was the only country in the Commonwealth, other than Britain, which had used the word British on passports in recent years. Australia would join New Zealand, Canada and other Commonwealth countries in using only the name of the issuing country on the front cover of the passport. The new passports would be issued within a few weeks.
This article was published 100 years ago on the occasion of the foundation ceremony for the city of Canberra, Australia’s capital city. It was to be another 14 years before the Parliament of Australia moved from Melbourne (where it had sat since 1901) to Canberra.
It was so from the beginning of Federation. States against states. States against the Commonwealth. The writer seems resigned to the fact that the Constitution allowed for such a place and urges the powers that be to get on with it.
The States are making big sacrifices anyhow to equip the Commonwealth with its new toy.
The place should not be allowed to “eat its head off ” as it will do if the expenditure heats up without there being any return.
The commentary about the prospective names for the capital comes out in favour of Canberra.
It has at least a wholesome, manly burr about its enunciation.
In a week when behaviours in the Australian Parliament have been particularly unattractive, here’s a piece from 60 years ago. In 1952, Robert Menzies was Prime Minister and Herbert Evatt was Leader of the Opposition. Note the discretion shown by the author of this item. Whispered, unthinking and unrecorded details in the press.
SPEAKER REBUKES HOUSE Listeners Disgusted
CANBERRA, Aug. 29. — Foul language being broadcast from Parliament House is disgusting listeners. Letters of complaint are deluging the Speaker whenever a whispered interjection is picked up by the microphones. He told the House today that he had received “most alarming reports” of parliamentary broadcasts. During question time he reprimanded Ministers and leading members of the Opposition for talking across the table of the House. He warned that if cross the table conversations did not cease, he would have them recorded: and said he had already consulted radio engineers on the possibilityof doing so. The only microphones per manently ‘alive’ during parliamentary broadcasts are those before the Speaker, and the one between the Minister at the table and the Opposition Leader.
Other microphones in the Chamber are switched on by a technician when the member nearest them rises to speak. Many Ministers and prominent Opposition members have mastered the technique of whispering interjections to the table microphone. These interjections pass unheard by the member speaking, but devastate his broadcast speech. Complaints to the Speaker have not been directed at these interjections, but at whispered, unthinking vulgarities uttered by those who forget the microphone is open.
This Parliamentary Education Office link takes you to a history of all of the Governors-General of Australia. The second man to hold the post was Lord Tennyson, whose name was Hallam. He was the son of Alfred Lord Tennyson, the English poet. He spent 5 years in Australia, as Governor of South Australia and then as a replacement for Lord Hopetoun, the first Governor-General of Australia.
It’s good to know that, soon after he arrived back in England, he was ready to spring to the defence of a nation apparently rumoured to be on the track to ruination. Sydney Morning Herald – 3 March 1904