Reflection on Christmas 2020

Christmas 2020.  We finally got here, despite the traumas which we have experienced during the year.  Christmas survives. It is a different Christmas to last year and certainty a very different Christmas to past years.

Christmas has changed over the decades in regards to its traditional meaning and its observance. Commercialism, secularism and political correctness have taken its toll. As an example of the latter, for some it is “happy holiday” rather than “Merry Christmas”.  This was highlighted with the Obama American Presidency, when he sent out cards with similar words.

Tasmania has seen great changes as well.

For the vast majority of Christians, including of those who are nominal, it heralds the birth of Jesus Christ and provides a Message of Hope for mankind. For the staunch Christian fundamentalist, Christmas is not honoured as they believe December 25th was observed by early European pagans who celebrated the changing of the seasons on that day. Later the Church put a Christmas meaning to it. Various sects contend that it not scriptural, so the day should be ignored.  

Historically, the first Christmas was not observed until more than three hundred years after the birth of Christ. Therefore, originally, there was no Christmas.  For Tasmania, the first Christmas came with Lt John Bowen RN who settled at Risdon Cove.  He held the first one, December 25, 1803. The following year came Colonel David Collins and with him the Rev Robert (Bobby) Knopwood and the first Christmas in Hobart was held December 25, 1804.

In the north of the State, Colonel William Paterson arrived in 1804 with 181 settlers and although I cannot find any documentation of the observance of Christmas, I have no doubt it was held.

In Australia the first ever recorded Christmas (referred to as Yuletide) took place in Governor’s Phillip’s modest residence at Sydney Cove, December 25, 1788,

Christmas 2020 will again be a day of family visiting, wonderful meals, gifts, watching the delights of children, picnics and for some, religious observances. Yet there will also be businesses operating and mass entertainment aired as though it was is just another day.

It was very different once – and not so long ago.  When black and white television was introduced into Tasmania for a number of years on this special day, only religious programmes were presented.  It was the same for the wireless (radio) until a certain hour in the evening, only religious and Christmas music was aired.  Businesses were closed for the day.  Everyone enjoyed themselves, rested and had the time to catch up with family. Churches were full with many who rarely went to church making this day a particular reason to attend.

In short there was more reverence, more respect and a more relaxed day. Christmas has always been commercial, but the sense and belief that it had a spiritual significance was recognised.

We live in a very secular society. The meaning of Christmas may be still there, but it has faded into the back ground. It is now no longer fully acknowledged.  Perhaps we have become too embarrassed over its meaning?  After all, don’t we live in a multi-cultural society, one of many faiths and cultures?  We certainly do not want to offend anyone. Yet in all my years (and I am now matured) I have never, ever, met a person (outside Ebenezer Scrooge) who wanted Christmas or even its meaning, banned.  I stress no atheist have I met, agnostic or those of a different faith or culture have expressed a desire to do so. They are content to enjoy Christmas Day in their own way and while they may not observe its religious significance, they are not the ones complaining.  Are we being therefore, socially manipulated and non-Christians being used as an excuse?

I personally think we have lost some of the quality of Christmas.  For me I thoroughly enjoy the carols, Christmas cards, the lights, the goodwill, the food, the fun, the family, the visiting.  Perhaps we should regain some of that something that made Christmas a day of uniqueness, specialness with a spiritual meaning. A child-like expectation.

Times are grim enough and those who wish to see the end of Christmas, I say “Bah Humbug”. Let’s continue to enjoy ourselves and observe Christmas for many years to come.  And yes,

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL

The Tasmanian Flag is 45 years old

Tasmanian Flag

December 3rd 2020 is the 45th anniversary of the Tasmanian flag. Indeed Tasmania was the first state to proclaim its own state flag.

The history of flags in Tasmania goes back to November 1642 when the explorer Abel Tasman raised the Dutch flag at Blackman Bay near Dunalley.  In September 1803 Lt John Bowen RN raised the Union Jack at Risdon Cove, the site of the first British settlement of Tasmania.

Tasmanian received a bi-cameral system and Responsible Government in 1856 together with a name change from Van Diemen’s Land to Tasmania. On August 7 of 1869, Queen Victoria ordered colonial governors to fly the Union Jack with the arms or badge of the colony emblazoned in the centre, following the suggestion of Tasmanian Colonial Secretary, Thomas Reiby.

He stated, “The distinguishing flag or ensign of the colony for vessels belonging to or permanently employed by the Government of Tasmania shall be a Blue Ensign with a Lion Passant red on a white shield in the fly”.

It was not, however, until September 25th, 1876 by proclamation from the governor, Frederick Aloysius Weld, did the colony receive a flag.  Then there were three official flags, they being the Governor’s flag, the Tasmanian vessel flag and a Tasmanian merchant flag.  Up until 1856 the Union flag and the British Ensign was primarily used on state occasions.

Between the years 1876 and 1975 the blue ensign flag containing the Union Flag (better known as the Union Jack) in the left top corner with a Lion Passant (sideways walking past) red on white shield on the fly, was used when representing the state.  This was, as we have learnt, the original Tasmanian Government vessel flag.

On December 3rd, 1975, the Governor Stanley Burbury issued another proclamation officially recognising the Blue Ensign with a Lion Passant red on a white shield on the fly as the State Flag.  The Labor Premier, Mr William (Bill) Neilson endorsed it.  As said, Tasmania was the first state to officially recognise its flag.  It was also the first state to authorise the flag for general use.

The proclamation read: “Governor in and over the State of Tasmania and its Dependencies in the Commonwealth of Australia acting with the advice of the Executive Council of the said State do by this my Proclamation declare that the Blue Ensign with a lion Passant red on a white shield in the fly thereof being the flag or ensign more particularly described in the Schedule hereto shall be the distinguishing flag or ensign of the State of Tasmania and shall be known as the Tasmanian Flag.” It was dated 3rd December 1975.

Consequently it only has been of recent times that Tasmania has had its own official state flag which can be flown by all, including individual burgesses.

The Union Flag of course, tells of the origin of our state as a British colony.  The Lion Passant represents the connection and loyalty to the Crown, Tasmania being a Constitutional Monarchy as recognised in the Tasmanian Constitutional Act of 1934, an Act which had its origins back in 1854. Indeed Tasmania was the first colony to adopt its own Constitution.

The Lion Passant has strong heraldic meaning, at least going back more than a thousand years to William the Conqueror, possibly a great deal more. For instance the Lion Passant was a symbol of the ancient House of Judah.

Our state flag can be flown on state government buildings, municipality flag poles and by businesses, clubs, societies and by private individuals. If the Australian National Flag is flown as well as the state flag, then the national flag takes precedence over all other flags, including other national flags.  The national flag must be flown on the left of the observer facing the flag or if three flags are flown, the national flag should be flown in the centre.  All flags, however, are to be flown at the same height.

Tasmania has led the nation in many instances end being the first state to proclaim its own flag is just one example.  It may be that some Tasmanians do not even know we have our own flag, so perhaps it should be flown more than what it is.

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day is exactly that – to remember. To remember those who went away, leaving their families, their community and country, to serve in war zones, risking their life and limb. Most were young and many were to die young. Nations call upon their youth to answer the call, while the older men, either military or civilian, direct their destinies. For many it was a call to adventure or let’s be frank, an opportunity to get away from an unpleasant love affair, a boring job or financial trouble.  No doubt many too, enlisted because of patriotic reasons.

Remembrance Day is to remember those who served during World War I and is perhaps over shadowed by ANZAC DAY which has become increasingly popular.  But on this day 11th November all those wars and conflicts our nation has been involved in, even before federation and after world war one, are also embraced.

So why do we remember and who do we remember? Remembrance Day for me is to remember those ordinary folk who served in our military forces and our nurses who gave so much. We remember the families whose sons, brothers, grandsons, friends and cousins who were thousands of miles away and they, not knowing what their fate was to be, suffered anguish.  Remembrance Day should not be exclusively recalling the feats of those in charge like Generals Monash, Chauval, Birdwood, Blamey, etc, albeit worthy they were, but the young soldier, sailor and airman who plodded the jungles, the marshes, the seas, the skies, the deserts, the arctic ice and whatever for they were really the ones who sacrificed themselves on behalf of others. We remember the privates, the stokers, the able seamen, the air crew, the non-commissioned officers, the lieutenants and captains who led troops while at an incredibly young age and the rate of fatalities of the latter two, per ratio, was very high. We remember those who served in the merchant navy and our nurses should also be remembered because of their unflinching call to duty, their sense of obligation and too, their sacrifice. These are the people what Remembrance Day is all about.  The generals have their medals, their awards, their exclusive clubs, with books written about them revealing their exploits on how great they were. But it was young Johnny that really fought and made the sacrifice and if he came home at all, often he did without an arm or leg(s) or perhaps a mangled burnt face as did our fighting airmen and certainly all with jangled nerves.

Mind you, one of my greatest heroes was a general – Sir General John Gellibrand, the highest ranking Tasmanian officer in WWI.  A sign of a good general is one who looks after the welfare of his troops and Gellibrand was one of them.  His concern was so great that during WWI he clashed constantly with superiors and in one incident, General Monash actually apologised to him, admitting he was right.  Gellibrand’s concern for the men continued after the war, founding what was then called the Remembrance Club, later to become Legacy.

Gellibrand would not be easy to get on with.  In civilian life he clashed constantly with those with whom he worked, but always, always, his concern was with the returning servicemen. On ANZAC DAY he marched with the men in civilian uniform much to chagrin of Monash and Chauval. In my eyes, Gellibrand was a great man who would not suffer fools easy.  Oh, how we need such in these grim days – fearless and righteous leaders!

They are the ones who should not be forgotten.  Many of them nameless.  Many in unmarked graves in Western Europe and elsewhere, buried at sea or shot down over enemy territory. How much did their mothers and fathers, grandparents, their brothers and sisters and all those who loved them, grieve? How many ladies in black were to be seen in the streets of our cities after World War One? Three thousand young Tasmanians died in that war, not to mention the 6,000 who returned wounded.

They went away to fight for their country, their family and freedom, from the Boer War to Afghanistan and in between. We have seen, however, how fragile freedom is.  It can be taken away without a flicker by the whims of those in charge, backed up by State authorities. Yes, they went away to fight for the continuation of freedoms which we enjoyed in Australia to the extent of fighting off an invading, brutal enemy – but freedom can be taken easily away.  It is important, nay, imperative that we remember those who went before us to battle on our behalf and that we cherish what they believed in; freedom of expression, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and freedom to make our own choices. We must never, never give it up so easily as it seems to have happened in this modern era.

Remembrance Day.  To remember those who left our shores and as distance in time increases there is the possibly that it will grow dim in our memory.  To do so would be selfish in the most extreme.  Today and next year and the years after, let us pass the lantern to those who follow.

Left: Reginald Gordon Watson 2/12th WWII
Middle: Trooper Frederick Wentworth Watson, 2nd Tasmanian Imperial Bushmen. The Anglo-Boer War
Right: 2nd Lieutenant Richard Marriott Watson Royal Irish Fusiliers WWI. KIA

Our inherited freedoms and the concept of fear

Australia has changed.  It is not the Australia I knew.  As a mature man I can compare what was to what is.  Our freedoms are something which I took for granted.  I was under the illusion that those in authority would protect and honour our inherit freedoms, but we have seen those very same identities who should be in the forefront in defending our freedoms, only too willingly to erase them. Not only that, but to persecute those who stand up for freedom backed by a police force which, in instances, has become an instrument of the government and not the servant of the people. I never, ever, thought I would see things happening in this land of ours under the banner of “we are doing it for your own good

The late US President Regan said that the ten most feared words of the English language are “I am from the government, I am here to help” (2nd August 1988). Yet even before the present virus outbreak, our freedoms were being eroded and this current situation has provided an excuse to erode them even further.  Democracy we have seen is not a guarantee for freedom.  We have witnessed dreadful laws enacted and enforced throughout Australia, especially in Victoria and Queensland that would make some less worthy nations envious.

Freedoms do not come easy; they are not given; they are fought for and won. We must be eternally vigilant otherwise they will be taken away.  We are familiar with those who went to war to ensure that our way of life and freedoms are protected from a brutal enemy.  Freedom, however, has to also be won through the corridors of powers, such as our parliaments and institutions. We cannot be free unless we have freedom of movement, freedom of expression and freedom of thought. We must have a free media. We must be protected by unbiased laws, but we have seen Australia governed by the executive and not by parliament.

The freedoms which we have enjoyed have been inherited from Great Britain.  Millions have been attracted to our shores because of the freedom we offered and once enjoyed. Long before the Norman Conquest, King Alfred, (the only British king to be called “Great”) implemented laws which laid foundation of the rights of the common man.  He was a studious law giver, a man who promoted literacy and was concerned with the weak and the dependent. He based his laws on earlier worthy codes and the bible. He was a learned man who was full of compassion.

Then in 1215 we had the Magna Carta when King John was forced to sign the charter forcing the King to be subject to the same laws as any other person. It influenced the United States Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. Both these latter peoples’ right were also influence by the British Bill of Rights of 1688 which set out the basic laws of parliamentary rule and rights of the common man, while putting a break on the powers of the Monarch, the then government.

Then we have the Australian Constitution, with sections 92 and 117 guaranteeing the freedom of movement backed up by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, with Article 13 guaranteeing the free movement in and out of a country, with Article 20 guaranteeing the right for peaceful assembly and association.  Australia signed this, but what is the point of signing something which we are NOT going to honour?  What is the point of an Australian Constitution if State Governments do not honour it? Or a federal government too weak to do anything about it? We have a High Court for the Federal Government to show these States that they are simply acting illegal.

We also operate under English Common Law and among other aspects, states that we are innocent until we are proven guilty, not the other way around.  Governments exist to serve the people, we the people are not here to serve governments.

We have seen State Governments act in a dictatorial way, again especially in Victoria. There, the police do terrible things to their own citizens and there have been multiple breeches of human rights in this regard.  When Premier Daniel Andrews were questioned on this during a media conference, he replied “THIS IS NOT ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS”. His own words. We are in trouble. We, the people, must protect our rights, because it has been shown that the political elite will not do so on our behalf while the various Oppositions have proven to be weak and hopeless including that in Tasmania. Our governments have been bereft of compassion.

But how come we have got to this stage?  Simply out of fear. Fear is feeling overwhelmed.  Fear will make people submissive. Fear creates the belief that is it enduring and because of fear we believe life can be reduced to a set of rules and the more rules we create the more habit-bound we become. We lose innocence and spontaneity, we forget the light and vitality of life and we end up living in the shadows.

Hence, because of fear, we allow ourselves to be under house arrest, putting our trust in governments that not only tell us what to do, but supplies all our needs. Government then becomes not only our mother and father, but god.  When the true God is rejected all we have is Big Government. Again to quote the late President Regan, “Government is not the solution, government is the problem”. (Jan 29 1981).

We have a brain, an intelligent and hopefully enough wisdom because of experience to be able to judge for ourselves.  We are individuals, not sheep.  Too many of our people have accepted what is being told and the message is one of fear giving predictions that simply have not happened.  We cannot every time a new virus appears shut down society, imprison its citizens and destroy its economy.

The one fear I have, come January next year (2021) we will truly see the horrific hardship of this shut down fully occur, which a leading QC, Michael Wyles, has stated is illegal. It has not only destroyed the economic life of people, but too, their mental and social life.  The rate of suicide is far higher than the death rate of this current virus, much of which could have been avoided if the vulnerable were instantly protected and those who had the virus were adequately quarantined which governments failed to do. We also must take note that 99 per cent of those who contract the virus will survive and that most will only have a mild case of it.

A certain percentage (and it is quite high) of people like to be told what to do. It brings security and they don’t have to make decisions for themselves. I have been staggered how easy and how quickly we have been willing to give our freedoms away and let us not be fooled, governments have learnt from this.

I thank you for your time.  We are a loving people, loving our family, our friends and our country.  Therefore, we are indeed concerned what is going on. Our national anthem says, “We are young and free” – well, we are no longer free.

Freedom

An address that was read on behalf of Reg Watson on 5th of September 2020 at the Hobart Freedom Rally.

I am sorry that I am unable to be with you today, but circumstances do not permit.  I am now in my mature years and I have never, ever seen such an abuse of power in Australia from the political elite. There is a lack of compassion from those who say they are acting on our behalf, backed up by a police force that should be spending their time, preventing, tackling and solving crime.  Instead we are seeing, particularly in the State of Victoria, innocent people, even pregnant women, arrested for expressing an opinion. What I have also observed is a lack of courage from our Federal Government that avoids taking action in bringing these Premiers under control.

Our freedoms of movement, expression and indeed thought, have been eroded to the point that – as has happened – we can be arrested.  Is this Germany of the 1930 and 40s?  Is this Soviet Russia or Red China today?  No, it is Australia in 2020 under the threat and fear of a virus which has given the excuse for governments and questionable medical experts to shut down our society to the detriment of physical and mental health. We have seen our nation destroyed economically.  The Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg announced on the 2nd September, that Australia is in a recession which will be far worse than the recession we had to have under Prime Minister Paul Keating.  This has all been created by our own leaders, under the guise they are acting on our behalf and for our benefit. The recession has just begun. The horror which is yet to come can only be imagined.  Thanks to our dubious leaders who have acted in their own interest and have used the virus issue to increase their power and their ego.

Our borders are closed, which is contrary to the Australian Constitution as guaranteed by Sections 92 and 117.  It is also against the Human Right Declaration of 1948.  But who cares about existing law?  State Governments don’t and the Federal Government seems to be reluctant to tackle this serious breach.  Mr Morrison TEAR DOWN THIS WALL.

My father fought for this country in battle as did his father.  Three members of the family died in World War One.  I now ask, what was it all for?  To see our freedoms taken away under the banner of exaggerated fear?  And to those who believe that once this is all over, governments will return our freedoms? Let me answer by saying once taken, do not expect them to be returned.  Our suppose representatives are silent.  Where are they?  All major parties support this lock down, Labor, Liberal, and The Greens.  Politicians and governments clearly will not protect our freedoms.  There is only one group who will and that is – US! The People.

We are governed, quite illegally in my opinion, by executive government, not by Parliamentary law. Australia operates under English Common Law which is constantly being ignored and rejected. When we have people in great medical need refused access to urgent care because someone in authority will not allow them to cross the border to go to hospital we are in deep trouble.  We have had deaths result from this madness. Farmers can’t get access to their markets and businesses are going bust.  Children cannot attend their parent’s funeral. Yet we are told we are in it all together.  Not so, if you are a sporting personality, an entertainment celebrity, a rich businessman or one of the political elite, you can cross the borders and avoid any 14 day quarantine, such as the South Australian Premier, Steven Marshall, who recently went to his son’s graduation in Queensland. The inconsistencies are numerous.

Last week, 100 concerned doctors wrote to the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, voicing their opposition to his current corona-virus policy.  In their petition they have pointed out that the cure is worse than the illness and more misery is to come. I am pleased to report that more and more doctors are signing the petition. As yet he has not answered them.

We have had the absurd positon of children being denied their education.  There is an increase in suicide, particularly among the young. These draconian lock-downs must end.  If we as a people allow this to continue, then we have only ourselves to blame for the long term dreadful effects.

We must act and we must regain our freedom.  We must say no, loud and clear. This is not to say we do not recognise that there is a situation on which we should be concerned.  But the policies to tackle it, are in error.  Winston Churchill said, “never let a good crises go to waste” and the political elite who would agree.

Thank you my friends.  Again, I am sorry that I have not with you today. I am proud of you all. And I will end with this:  I am currently reading Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago.  The contents are horrifying and Alex makes the comment that they lost their freedom because and to quote, “we did not love freedom enough”… and, “even more, we hurried to submit. We submitted with pleasure.”