A few years ago, a survey asked about the biggest influence on Australian National Identity.
“Many people throughout Australia’s history have influenced the way Australians see themselves in terms of their identity as Australians,” the question began. “If you had to choose among [a list of groups], which would be your first choice as the most influential?”
The answer was overwhelming: 47% said The Anzacs. The second most chosen group was Free Settlers at 17%, and third came Postwar Immigrants 14%.
Crowds clapped for old and modern-day soldiers at the Anzac Day march in Albury in 2013
Billy Hughes, Australia’s Prime Minister during the First World War, said in 1918: “We are fighting a life-and-death struggle. We are fighting for our country, for our liberty, and for economic independence.” After the war, when unveiling The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, he said: “They died that we might live as free men. They left us the legacy of liberty and a united Empire.”
Dr Bella d'Abrera, Director, Foundations of Western Civilisation Program at the Institute of Public Affairs, reflected on this fight for freedom after Anzac Day 2018:
The thousands of Australians who enlisted to fight in the First World War did so because they believed that their liberties were under threat. They fought for freedom and democracy...
The Australians who fought in World War I knew what was at stake and they knew that it was worth fighting for.
They knew that the defeat of Great Britain and France by Imperial Germany could carry serious consequences for Australia.
They knew that the values of liberty, inquiry, toleration, religious plurality and economic freedom were under threat. They were fighting to keep the rule of law, that broad set of principles vital to the order and stability of society and which is one of the most effective guards against the wielding of arbitrary power.
They were fighting for the notion of a liberal democracy and the right to vote. Prime Minister Hughes was unequivocal in his contrast of German militarism and Australian democracy. “We fight not for material wealth, not for aggrandisement of Empire, but for the right of every nation, small as well as large, to live its own life in its own way. We fight for those free institutions upon which democratic government rests."
Schoolchildren lay a wreath during Warnambool's Anzac Day parade in 2013
Today, in Australia and much of the Western World, we find ourselves in the midst of a different kind of war – a cultural war.
Woke activists are trying to divide us in every conceivable way – by race, sex, gender, sexuality, age, ethnicity… People are being vilified and sacked for exercising what should be their right of freedom of speech. Think of Margaret Court, Israel Folau, Peter Ridd and others.
We need to remember the words of Jesus: “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” FamilyVoice is committed to uphold the fundamental freedoms for which our forebears fought.
The sad news came last Friday. Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband for 73 years, had died peacefully at Windsor Castle, aged 99.
Like many marriages, theirs “had its moments”. But overwhelmingly, the good outweighed the bad.
The Queen gave a speech on their golden wedding anniversary in 2007. She said Philip was her “strength and stay all these years”. She added: “I, and his whole family and this and many other countries owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.”
Aged nearly 95, Her Majesty is still healthy and active. But the loss of her helpmate, guide and sounding board will be a body blow. She and her family are very much in our prayers.
For Philip’s passing is the beginning of the end of an era. The next tragedy to strike the royal family could be the death of the Queen herself.
Her long reign, noted for her quiet diplomacy and the fostering of peace and unity between a diverse and numerous Commonwealth of Nations, has been exceptional. Her faith in God has been a constant throughout her life. In her messages each Christmas, she often mentions her faith in Jesus who inspires her and keeps her going.
But some Australians are almost eager for the Queen to die so they can push for another republic referendum. It is therefore worth pondering why our current system of government – our constitutional monarchy – has been so successful.
Her Majesty is Queen of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and many other smaller nations. But she does not tell the governments of those countries what to do.
For Australia, she appoints a respected, experienced person as Governor-General to act as her representative. By convention, this appointment is on the advice of the Prime Minister of the day. Once appointed, the Governor-General (not the Queen) exercises all the responsibilities of a Head of State, including representing our country on official visits to other countries.
UK constitutional authority Walter Bagehot has noted that the Queen and her representatives are far more than ceremonial figureheads who cut ribbons, promote charities, review troops and open parliaments. They have three limited but very important rights: “to be consulted, to encourage, and to warn”.
The regular meetings of the Prime Minister with the Governor-General are private and confidential. The value of these meetings is enormous, as sometimes the Governor-General is the only person the elected leader can trust to provide confidential, independent advice.
Governor-General David Hurley has the right to be consulted by PM Scott Morrison, and to encourage or warn him.
The Governor-General presides over meetings of the Federal Executive Council – comprising current ministers and assistant ministers. The Executive Council provides formal advice on matters requiring action by the Governor-General.
All this is very different from the various republican systems operating around the world. And as some commentators have noted, constitutional monarchies tend to be significantly more peaceful and stable as a result.
Some schools are even being encouraged to stop teachers and pupils from using words including mum, dad and boyfriend in a controversial bid to banish gendered words.
Instead, 'parent' and 'partner' is preferred.
The suggestions come as the North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network launched its #SpeakingUpSpeaksVolumes campaign to support LGBTQI+ students in schools.
The campaign used material from Proud2Play and VicHealth which included strategies for schools and sports - including non-gendered teams and the use of rainbow flags.
Parents were also being asked to question others about what pronouns they used.
Earlier this year staff at Australian National University were asked to use the terms “gestational parent” instead of “mother”, “non-birthing parent” rather than “father” and “chestfeeding” in lieu of “breastfeeding”.
Andrew Bolt says he’s not a believer. He calls himself a “rationalist”.
He writes for Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Brisbane’s Courier Mail and Adelaide’s Advertiser.
He also hosts a TV current affairs program on Sky News. His daily blog is one of the most popular in Australia. He “tells it like it is” – sometimes getting in trouble as a result.
But last Thursday, on his program and his blog, Andrew made a startling admission:
“As you probably know, I’m not a Christian. But there is a man who made me think that maybe I’ve been a little too arrogant about that.”
He was talking about Paul Barnett, a retired Anglican bishop of North Sydney (who incidentally has been a great encouragement to FamilyVoice).
Paul Barnett has written A Short Book About Jesus – the Man from Heaven. A year ago he sent a copy to Andrew Bolt.
And Andrew – who almost never reads the stuff people send him – was deeply impressed.
Paul’s book uses evidence, from ancient non-Christian writers, to show the remarkable growth of the Christian faith. After their leader was executed in a most degrading way, a few dispirited followers became the dominant religion in the Roman empire just three centuries later.
Tomorrow is Easter Friday. That's the day when Christians mark the death in Jerusalem, 2000 years ago, of Jesus Christ.
Now we know from other historical sources that there was a Jesus, and he was executed. We also know that the Romans used crucifixion back then, not just because it was such a ghastly way to die – it was also such a humiliating way to die.
Who could respect a man who claimed to be a leader – nailed up there for days, gasping his last, soiling himself?
So that crucifixion, back then – when to be God was to be powerful and weakness something to be despised – that should have been it for Christ and for his tiny bunch of followers.
But the amazing thing is that it wasn't.
Those followers, who thought Christ was God, ended up believing him all the more. And some wrote that they’d actually seen this man three days later come back alive, transfigured.
Many of us rationalists today find this absolutely incredible and laughable.
But this resurrection, celebrated on Easter Sunday, was believed so much by Christ’s disciples that every single one of them, bar one, and St Paul later, themselves risked their lives and were killed, trying to convert the world into believing in Christ too.
And the miracle is that these people won. At least until now.
There are around two and a half billion Christians. Personally, I'm very glad of that. Because what you tend to find in survey after survey is that they do tend to be people who give more to charity or work more for others. They tend to be better neighbours. Of course, not all – but the data is pretty consistent.
And the more free and democratic societies that we have, where rights are most respected, are essentially Christian societies, or at least founded by Christians.
And that's one reason I worry about the frantic attacks on Christianity in the West, often by people who seem to lack one thing that Christ preached particularly: “Show mercy. Show forgiveness. Be humble. You who are without sin cast the first stone.”
Andrew continues, asking Paul Barnett for more details.
Is this non-believing journalist very far from God’s kingdom?