Petition for Buckingham Palace

May 28, 2013 by  
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The grandson of William Cooper, the aboriginal who led the only known private protest against Kristallnacht in 1938 is campaigning to send his grandfather’s petition to the Queen.

Uncle Boydie signs the petition   photo: Sylvia Deutch

Uncle Boydie signs the petition photo: Sylvia Deutch

Alf Turner (Uncle Boydie) bas launched the initiative to send Queen Elizabeth the petition originally intended for her grandfather, King George V. In 1938 the Cabinet did not present it to the Australian Parliament and it was not forwarded to the King.

The history making event was held at the Northern Canberra Jewish Community Centre Chabad in Giralung. Speeches were made by Uncle Boydie, Abe Schwarz, the MC, Rabbi Shmuley Fedman, Prof James Haire from the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture and Barbara Miller. A DVD of William Cooper was shown and the petition was signed. Uncle Boydie was the first signatory on the Indigenous petition and Prof James Haire was the first signatory on the supporters petition with the Rabbi close after. Barbara Miller signed her book which was used for fundraising for Uncle Boydie to travel to London to present the petition personally to the Queen if an audience can be obtained.

The reason the original petition was not sent in 1938 is that Aboriginal people were British subjects but not Australian citizens, having lost their citizenship of their own nation in 1901 at federation. Uncle Boydie wants to right this wrong and finish his grandfather’s business. William Cooper’s dream has now become Uncle Boydie’s dream.

On Dec 6 last year, Uncle Boydie, joined by a large group of Jewish people, Aborigines, Christians and others re-enacted the famous walk of William Cooper and the Australian Aborigines League to the German Consulate in Melbourne on the 74th anniversary. Author Barbara Miller had the vision for this event and initiated it by contacting Michael Pearce, Hon German Consulate of Melbourne to ask him to receive the letter of protest his predecessors had rejected and to do it on the location where the consulate was in 1938. He was happy to do so as he said he wanted to “right this wrong” of history. Miller’s book “William Cooper: Gentle Warrior” was launched as part of the day’s events.

Uncle Boydie sees this as half of Cooper’s dream completed. What remains is to gather 1814 signatures, the number on the original petition, gathered from Aborigines all over Australia and add a supporters petition and present it to the Queen or the Australian government. Barbara Miller has written a cover page to bring it up to date.

Another important event that occurred on Tuesday 21 May was that a group was able to view the national archives copy of the original petition and related correspondence. The group consisted of Uncle Boydie, Abe Schwarz, Prof James Haire, Matt Busby Andrews, Barbara Miller and Joy Salonga.  This threw further light on the fact that it was never even presented to Parliament, that the original position and signatures are missing, that all that is there is the copy of the petition sent to government asking petition to get signatures and a letter stating that the petition with the signatures was received, cabinet papers as to why it was not presented to Parliament etc.

It may be possible to have bipartisan support from the Australian parliament for a motion of regret that it was not considered by the parliament and not passed on to the King.

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