DAILY MEMBERS' BULLETIN
On 17th December 1967 Prime Minister Harold Holt, a powerful backstroker, vanished mysteriously while swimming off Victoria's rugged southern coast. At the time, Sir Harold was at the top of his political game. He had just overseen the decimalisation of the Australian currency, articulated an inspiring vision for the future of the nation's apple and pear industry, and buttressed our defence against creeping Communism by boosting Australia's military commitment to South Vietnam. Barely a year after taking over from Sir Robert Menzies, Sir Harold had emerged as the nation's most popular and beloved leader. However, jealous conspirators lurked.
Prior to entering the rough waters off Cheviot Beach near the resort village of Portsea, Sir Harold had spent 9-hours drinking at a nearby public house where he entertained local residents with amusing anecdotes from his time in the RAAF and ribald stories involving Madam Chiang Kai Shek, US President Lyndon Johnston, a coconut and a plunger. Locals said there was nothing unusual about Sir Harry, as he was known to pub regulars, and the atmosphere was convivial. Several recall Sir Harold as confident and looking forward to the parliamentary year. Less than an hour later, he was gone with the only evidence of his presence on the beach that day being an empty brandy balloon and a charred cigar ring.
Sir Harold's so-called 'disappearance' stunned a nation and shocked all who knew him. An extensive search was launched but mysteriously called off just several days later. Claims by local residents to have seen a Chinese submarine loitering in the vicinity of Port Philip Heads in the hours before the Prime Minister's swim went un-investigated. There was also a failure to follow-up an eyewitness's claim that as Sir Harold left the hotel and wove his way towards the ocean, his arch-rival and fanatical anti-decimalisation agitator, Deputy Prime Minister 'Black' Jack McEwen, climbed a nearby sand dune and began waving his socks above his head in a style resembling "semaphore in Mandarin".
Additional eye witness accounts suggesting Sir Harold might have been kidnapped and taken to China where he worked variously as an indentured pianola player at a Shanghai burlesque club, as a carp spearman in Chairman Mao Tse Tung's private aquarium, and more lately at a factory assembling the iPhone 5, have also been ignored by successive Australian governments.
The Harold Holt Disappearance Reenactment Society was established in 1968 to reveal the truth surrounding Sir Harold Holt's so-called 'disappearance' and to investigate thoroughly all sightings. We believe that Australian democracy was fundamentally undermined by the Holt disappearance. It is our view, based on gut feeling backed up by expert legal opinion, that Sir Harold Holt remains the legitimate prime minister of Australia and every person elected to hold that office since December 1967 has exercised power in a caretaker capacity only. As a result, almost all laws passed in the four decades since Sir Harold's kidnapping are unconstitutional and should be struck out.
To this end, we believe that an essential first step towards restoring Australian democracy is a Royal Commission into the Holt incident coupled with an investigation into his current whereabouts. Only by the truth coming out, and Sir Harold's repatriation to Australia and return to the Lodge, can the Australian political system recover its political and moral legitimacy.
Our Society promotes these objectives through the direct lobbying of political parties and leaders both in Australia and overseas. More subtle forms of political action take place through our status as a bastion of Sir Harold's uniquely dignified cultural style.
As the nation's premier Harold Holt-focused body we have come to occupy a special place in the hearts and minds of ordinary Australians. By combining Sir Harold's well-documented love of hierarchy, exclusivity, refinement and water sports we have attracted a wide array of members from across the political spectrum. By becoming members of our Society they are gradually acculturated to our views. Progress can only come through inculcating the 'right thinking'.
At the centre of our celebration of Sir Harold and our quest to place his return to Australia at the forefront of the national imaginary is our annual reenactment of what we believe to be the truth of Sir Harold's mysterious vanishing act. With generous financial assistance from the Golden Imperial Sea Anemone Chinese Takeaway Restaurant (Sorrento & Tootgarook), each year on the anniversary of Sir Harold's 'disappearance' Society members gather in the Cigar and Snorkel Bar at our Portsea headquarters and drink heavily before escorting a celebrity 'Sir Harold' to the shoreline and wishing him well as he plunges into Bass Strait and is snatched by a mock Ming Class Chinese submarine (in reality the Golden Imperial Sea Anemone's Chinese New Year Dragon wrapped in black plastic and insulation tape).
Past winners of the highly sought after role of Sir Harold include the Society's Founder and National Convenor, Dr Erstwhile Truthwright (13-times), Ron Barassi, Frank Lowie, Professor David Flint, Allan Bond, Jeff Kennett (twice), Mark 'Tubby' Taylor, Noel Pearson, Alexander Downer, Karl Stefanovic and Glenn Lazarus.