Given you are going from an old CRT (which I presume is 4:3 square TV) to a 16:9 widescreen I reckon you'll get a lot of enjoyment from that simple move - the rest becomes bonus.
I'd be inclined to compromise the HD. I reckon its unlikely you'll really want to move your sitting distance up to 1.6 m to make the most of full HD - even though you have blue ray. So this leaves you in the market for 720P which means you get to take full advantage of Freeview HD broadcast and get to enjoy blue ray in not quite its full glory. Also since you haven't got a Home Theater system you probably aren't maximizing the whole "home theater" experience so you can get away with some compromise.
As luck would have it Noel Leeming have a 50 inch 720p panasonic plasma at $1199. Panasonic is a highly respected brand. Plasma may still have the edge on LCD at this size, 720P will be fine for you. And its just in your price range. Shop around and you might get it cheaper.
OK - so you are going to compromise your HD. But I reckon if you get the 50 inch home and take the time to calibrate it you will do much better than buying any HD off the shelf and just plug and play once at home. Calibration is a MUST!
(And its been said earlier - no one ever regrets getting the biggest TV they can afford. You will regret getting a little TV even if it is full HD cos you'll always be wanting that extra few inches.)