January 23, 2023

Officer of the Order of Australia

Dear Editor,

On Friday, 6th of this January 2023, I attended the East Kew funeral (at the home of White Lady Funerals, at which name the deceased would most probably have goodnaturedly chortled) of possibly Australia’s greatest ever “ABC” (Australian-born Chinese), fourth- generation Aussie: Dr Wellington Lee, OBE, OAM, WWII RAAF pilot officer (also seeing action/service in later theatres of war), former ALP and Unity Party candidate, former Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne, former National RSL executive and local RSL branch president, and much more!

Wellington was a great fighter for Chinese Australians’ rights/recognition and freedom from discrimination as he was for Aboriginal Australians. He was born in the Northern Territory with Wellington-loving Aborigines, and they he!

The Wellington Lee I knew would be mortified, nonplussed, and deeply saddened by (saying, “Silly buggers!” re) the current furor over Australia Day (the date of 26th of January being ratified by a Paul Keating-led Labor Govt), on which in 2003, Wellington was awarded his Order of Australia (after in 1982 being recognised as an Officer of the British Empire)!

Australia’s greatest “ABC,” Dr Wellington Lee, loved all Australians of all origins and dearly loved, and fervently defended the much-maligned-by-Paul Keating Union Jack, which adorns our present-day Australian flag, because Wellington Lee loved our Westminster system of democracy given birth to in England, bestowed by the British and so loved by the American Bar Association: the Magna Carta!

Unashamedly Anglophilic, Wellington Lee never forgot that it was the Reverend John Flynn (of the Inland) pioneering the Royal Flying Doctor Service primarily in response to Aboriginal Jimmy Darcy’s tragic, lingering death in the outback.

And Wellington Lee would have never forgotten Nelson Mandela (another very great Anglophile) who, when in Australia was asked, “Mr Mandela, what about the Aborigines?” is said to have replied, “What about them? They’ve got the vote…we, haven’t.”

The Wellington (a true lovable Aussie larrikin at times) I remember would have voted “Yes” to give Aboriginal Australians equal rights (except being compelled to vote) with all other Australians for  “The Vote” in the 1967 referendum, in effect giving Aborigines a true equal voice in the running of our British-bestowed Westminster system of government, so very greatly loved by possibly Australia’s greatest ever “ABC”: Australian-born Chinese, Dr Wellington Lee, OBE, OAM, WWII RAAF Pilot Officer and RSL President, and Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne!

All the preceding was confirmed by Wellington’s (a fair-dinkum Aussie’s!) funeral commencing with “I Vow to Thee, My Country”:  Britain’s most patriotic hymn!


Howard Hutchins
Victoria, Australia

Image credit: The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia

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