Australian Monarchist League
The Australian Monarchist League is a non-profit organisation, headquartered in Sydney, Australia, promoting the monarchy of Australia, and providing information to members of the public about Australian history and the Australian Constitution. The organisation was part of the "no" campaign in the 1999 republic referendum, which asked whether Australia should become a republic and whether Australia should alter the constitution to insert a preamble. Neither of the amendments passed.
Australian Monarchist League
|National Chairman||Philip Benwell MBE|
The Australian Monarchist League is incorporated as an association in New South Wales, and was founded as a branch of the London-based International Monarchist League (IML). However, in 1993, the League severed affiliation with the IML, and established itself as an independent Australian body. (A separate organisation, the Monarchist League in Australia, was formed in 2006 as an affiliate of the IML). The organisation is not formally associated with any political party or other organisation, and it has no paid staff, relying on volunteers to keep the group functioning. Philip Benwell has served on a volunteer basis as the national chairman and spokesman for the league for over ten years. In 1978, Benwell was charged with fraudulent misappropriation and obtaining money under false pretences. He fled to Sri Lanka, where his family owned tea plantations. He was eventually extradited back to Australia in 1987, after a period of imprisonment at Welikada Prison, but was never prosecuted for the earlier charges.
The League has established a Trust with a number of prominent Australian businessmen as Trustees. The most important role of the Trust is to raise and administer funds for the organisation's activities.
1999 republic referendumEdit
During the 1999 republic referendum on the future of Australia's constitutional monarchy, the league along with the four other constitutional monarchist groups formed a united front led by Lloyd Waddy emphasising the weaknesses of the republican models on offer. Positions on the official Vote No Committee were filled according to votes received at the Convention election. Accordingly, all eight monarchist seats went to an alternative organization which had won 73.39% of the monarchist vote, Australians for Constitutional Monarchy (along with two supporting an elected head of state). Nevertheless, the Australian Monarchist League played a role in the proceedings, including Benwell privately taking the Australian Electoral Commission to the Federal Court in an unsuccessful attempt to gain a firmer definition of what would count as a "yes" vote in the referendum, arguing that the planned approach (accepting any vote in which the voter's intention was clear) was such that the counting would be weighted towards "yes" and "opened the door for electoral fraud".[dubious ]
Both prior and subsequent to the referendum, the Australian Monarchist League has acted to protect the image of the constitutional monarchy. In 2005 the organisation lodged formal complaints about an image depicting Princess Diana by photographer Erwin Olaf at the Australian Centre for Photography. Similarly, they wrote to the Japanese ambassador in 1998 after Toyota ran an advertisement showing a Range Rover with the words "Don't worry, Your Majesty, you're not the only British export that's had its day", resulting in Toyota withdrawing the advertisement; and in 2008 complained to both the Coopers Brewery and the Advertising Standards Bureau after Coopers ran an advertisement stating "Forget the monarchy, support the publicans", forcing its withdrawal.
Along with their actions during the referendum, the League have been active in protecting the symbols of Australia's constitutional monarchy; they acted to ensure that the pledge of loyalty to the monarch remained a part of Scouts Australia, and spoke against the removal of references to the Queen from the Victorian legal system. Aside from campaigning, the AML distributed copies of William Dargie's portrait of Queen Elizabeth II after the Commonwealth Government Bookshops ceased selling photographs of the monarch.
Other activities include disseminating literature and maintaining a library on Australian history and the Australian Constitution, and conducting public seminars.
The League has approximately 3000 members as of 2008, with branches in each State and in the Australian Capital Territory. All office bearers are elected by the membership and serve on a voluntary basis.
- Mitchell, Alex (11 June 2006). "Naming tiff divides wild colonial fan groups". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
- "About Us". Australian Monarchist League. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
- "Philip Benwell". The Australian Monarchist League. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
- "Old fraud charges haunt Mr Monarchy". The Age. 21 August 2005. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
- Symons, Emma-Kate (2 March 1999). "Queen ignored in fight against republic". The Daily Telegraph. Sydney. p. 18.
- Warhurst, John (27 August 2009). "League's booklet sets battlelines for the monarchy debate". The Canberra Times.
- Benwell, Philip (4 November 1999). "Valid votes". The Advertiser. Adelaide. p. 17.
- Crabb, Annabel (4 November 1999). "The Republic Vote Monarchist league's non non to oui oui". The Advertiser. Adelaide. p. 7.
- Hilferty, Tim; Luff, David (3 November 1999). "Queen case claims bias". The Daily Telegraph. Sydney. p. 8.
- "Setback for monarchists". Hobart Mercury. Hobart. 5 November 1999.
- Shaunagh, O'Connor (12 August 2005). "A right royal shocker". The Daily Telegraph. Sydney. p. 87.
- Watson-Smyth, Kate (20 March 1998). "Ford forced to pull Full Monty ad". The Independent. London. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
- Monarchists upset by beer ad, ABC, 28 July 2008
- Harvey, Claire (24 June 2000). "Scouts prepared to back Queen". The Weekend Australian. Sydney. p. 18.
- "Smokers, royalists butted out". Herald Sun. Melbourne. 19 December 2009. p. 9.
- "About Australian Monarchist League". Australian Monarchist League. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
- McMahon, Barbara (27 April 2008). "Last stand for Australia's monarchists". The Observer. London. Retrieved 19 December 2009.