Report: AGM and Seventh Meeting of Edmund Burke’s Club (Australia) Inc. 20 September 2013

The Annual General meeting and the seventh of Edmund Burke’s Club (Australia) Inc took place at the Savage Club, Melbourne, on the 20th of September.

The President  welcomed members and guests, with a particular acknowledgment of Chris Rath, the Club’s only Sydney member. Chris had flown to Melbourne for this important occasion.

The President said that the AGM was a great occasion, celebrating a milestone that the membership can be truly proud of. From a seemingly off-the-cuff suggestion, EBC quickly took form, he said, and after a year in operation continues to build on that form. It has engaged the interest of an impressive membership who have maintained their enthusiasm, interest and commitment. At this present point, he continued, EBC is equipped to move ahead and pursue the objectives set out in its mission statement.

The program of specialized talks has been established and that will proceed as it has done. Where the Club’s concentration has to move now is on promoting its mission. The Club has something important to say in the national dialogue about politics and society. The Left’s campaigns – the attempts at mass manipulation –  in the recent federal election have demonstrated the need for the Club’s voice. To enter that dialogue the Club must become bigger and louder. How is it going to that? This is a subject for a specially convened meeting, the President said.

In conclusion, he expressed a warm personal thanks to the membership for the realization of an idea he always thought would remain a dream. Particular thanks were directed to Fr Glen Tattersall for the suggestion that started it all a little of a year ago, and for providing an outstanding venue for meetings at the Savage Club, of which he is a member. A portrait of a youthful looking Robert Menzies hanging prominently on the wall adds its own spirit to the meetings. Most members have had their photo taken under the portrait. The President then called on Secretary Richard Lyons to begin the business of the meeting.

Richard presented the minutes of the last meetings to the membership with an appropriate explanation. The motion for approval and acceptance of the minutes was proposed and carried. Richard also commented on how well the Club had developed and thanked his fellow members for their commitment.

The President then called on Patrick Doyle who recently replaced Bernard Negline as Treasurer to present the accounts of the last financial year in accordance with the Association’s legal obligations. The accounts were presented without remark and accepted after a motion for approval.

The meeting then moved on to the election of the Club’s management committee and its officers. The President stepped down calling for a returning officer to oversee the election. Ordinary member Fr Tattersall took the floor as returning officer and presided over the election. All positions were filled unopposed. The Management Committee of EBC for 2013/2014 is:

President: Gerard Wilson
Vice-President: Christopher Rath
Treasurer: Patrick Doyle
Secretary: Lucas McLennan
Ordinary members: Robert and Dawn Shaw

With business of the AGM concluded, the President welcomed Dr Peter Janssen to the lectern for his presentation, ‘Burke and the Natural Law’. Peter surveyed the elements of the Natural Law as proposed in one of the important books on Burke and the natural law, Edmund Burke and the Natural Law, by Peter Stanlis, published in 1958. Stanlis’s book was among those first to challenge the view that a principle of utility was the foundation of Burke’s political thought. The view that Burke’s thought was in line with the writings of David Hume and Jeremy Bentham prevailed during the 19th Century when Burke’s American writings were claimed to be the purest representation of his thought. Peter then gave examples of passages in Burke that were clearly based on an idea of natural law. His examples concentrated on Burke’s idea of the law of nations, a subject that has had much less attention than the expression of natural law in the writings on the Irish, French, and Hastings Impeachment issues. Peter’s presentation will be posted in due course.

Chris Rath, newly elected Vice-President, gave a brief talk on a book due for release by Connor Court Publishing later this year: Australian Conservatism and Liberalism. Chris has written a chapter, ‘The National Curriculum and the Defence of Western Civilization’, which was the main subject of his talk. Chris’s revelations about those responsible for the writing of the national curriculum had his audience at times gasping in dismay and laughing at their absurd audacity. The book promises to be an excellent addition to growing list of books written by conservative-minded authors on Australian politics and society.

The next meeting of EBC was announced for 29 November during which John Ballantyne, editor of News Weekly, will give a talk on ‘Burke and Thomas Paine’. A Christmas BBQ is planned for sometime during December. Details will be announced. The meeting was concluded and members and guests repaired to the nearby RACV Bistro for a welcome meal.

NOTE: The dates for the next meeting and Christmas BBQ have been changed to Friday 22nd November and Sunday 24th November.