Page 732 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 8 March 2005

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intrigued, however, that the Chief Minister has linked his position to such an event, given the genesis of command performances.

Many of us would be aware that the history of the command performance—or, as they are sometimes described, “royal command performances”—goes back many years to times when royalty, being kings, queens, princes or other members of royal families, requested particular activities to be performed for their personal enjoyment. These performances could either simply be for the favour of those members of the royal family or, as now is the case, as functions to assist charities. Hence the key characteristic of a command performance is that a person in a royal family makes a request for an activity or an event. A command is issued from the member of a royal family and the subjects of the royal person respond appropriately, as you do. It is not just anyone who can make such a request; it is a command from a member of the royal family for something to take place.

So now we have our Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope, a committed republican, putting his name to a command performance. What a strange turn of events! Is the Chief Minister now suggesting that he has had a change of heart from his republican tendencies? Perhaps not. Perhaps he is seeking simply to emulate the actions of royalty. Well, history is littered with people who did not like or agree with royalty but who, when in positions of power, sought to replicate the trappings of royal office. There are many examples from history. The United States is a classic example at a national level of such a dichotomy: having kicked the authority of the English monarchy out of America a few hundred years ago, the American people now absolutely love and are infatuated with any royal visit to their country. There are other examples in the history of England and of various countries on the European continent with similar experiences.

Now, even in a country like Australia, where there has been strong support for royalty over many years, it has been extraordinary to see the positive reaction across Australia to what Australia is calling “our Princess Mary” during her current visit—and good luck to her. Indeed, the visit of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary has generated considerable affection for the Danish royal family.

However, even though our community may have a quite strong preference for matters royal, this does not mean that our Chief Minister can adopt the trappings of royal office. In fact, I would have thought our Chief Minister would have been a bit more careful when linking his official position with what has been called a command performance. I am sorry, Chief Minister, but you just do not make the grade as royalty; nor do you make the grade as pseudo royalty. It just does not work. Moreover, it is not possible for our Chief Minister to become royalty and, as a consequence, arrange his own command performances.

Perhaps people will say, “Welcome to the ranks of the monarchists, Prince Jon,” but I am not sure that that sentiment rings true. On the contrary, the pathetic fawning that is evident in the description “Chief Minister’s command performance” is really rather sad. I would suggest that the Chief Minister, rather than seeking to become a pseudo royal, should devote his energies to managing the ACT—its government, its economy and its community. Command performances should be left to those who can issue such command performances, Chief Minister.

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