Queen elizabeth, half-way through her tour of Australia, arrived in Canberra on Thursday (February 28) to open the new session of Australia's Parliament.
Queen elizabeth, half-way through her tour of Australia, arrived in Canberra on Thursday (February 28) to open the new session of Australia's Parliament. As she stood with the Duke of Edinburgh on the front steps of Parliament House, the music of the national anthem was drowned by the noise of five hundred aboriginal protestors.
The protest was sparked by the suspension on Wednesday (February 27) of Mr. Charles Perkins, assistant secretary to the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the most senior aboriginal official in Australia's public service. He was sacked for attacking Australia's opposition parties -- the Liberal and Country parties -- as racist.
SYNOPSIS: Halfway through their tour of Australia on Thursday, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip arrived in Canberra to open the new session of Australia's parliament. The Queen was greeted by Prime Minister Gough ???am. Her visit was to be marred by the first hostile demonstration of her tour. Hundreds of aborigines had gathered in protest against the suspension of Australia's most senior aboriginal civil servant -- Charles Perkins. He ??? suspended for publicly criticising ??? government's handling of aboriginal affairs.
As the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh stood on the steps of Parliament House to hear the National Anthem, five hundred demonstrators began to chant.
The protest -- sparked off by Mr. Perkins' suspension -- had now become a demand for civil rights.
Inside Parliament House where the demonstrators could no longer be heard, the Queen was able to formally open the new session of parliament without interruption. Outside -- eight miles away -- a young aborigine had entered the Aboriginal Affairs Department's building and seized four men at gun point.
The police moved in with guns, but the man was demanding to see Barrie Dexter -- the man who ordered Mr. Perkins' suspension -- before he would release his hostages. Barrie Dexter was unavailable.
Instead, Charles Perkins himself talked the man into surrendering.
Mr. Perkins had to be rushed from Parliament House where he was taking part in the demonstration. It took two hours to persuade the man to release the hostages.
Later Canberra police said they had charged a twenty-six old man with possession of an unlicensed firearm.