Result adds a glow to expat festival

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The Independent Online
JOHN CORY was wearing a kilt and carrying a set of bagpipes, so perhaps it wasn't surprising that he was keen on the Queen. He could, of course, have been a radical Scottish separatist, but he wasn't. He was an Australian with Scottish blood and a love of wailing music.

Mr Cory, pipe major in the Penrith City Pipe Band, had just blown his lungs out at Britfest '99, a festival for homesick Brits that took place yesterday in Blacktown, a western suburb of Sydney. On Saturday, he performed another civic duty, casting his "no" vote in the referendum that asked Australians whether they wanted to become a republic. "We've got a system that works, Queen included, and it doesn't need to be changed," said Mr Cory.

"The country is good the way it is," concurred Brenda Povey, in a Manchester accent that has not diminished during 32 years in Australia. "I'm very fond of the Royals," she said, fresh from voting "no". "I couldn't imagine living in a country where the Queen was not my Queen."

A few yards away, past stalls selling pork pies and mushy peas, Robert Davidson, chairman of the New South Wales Branch of the Scottish Country Dancing Association, disagreed. "Personally, I believe that Australia should have its own head of state," he said, although he stressed his organisation had no political stance.

Even Peter Beckingham, the British consul-general in Sydney, was there. He swatted away questions about the referendum. "It would be like telling John Eales or Steve Waugh how to run the Australian rugby or cricket teams," he said, diplomatically.