ACM: too "tough" to admit mistakes

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In response to Lewis Holden's article yesterday, the ACM say they have "toughened" up one of their articles on their website. What they needed to do, says Lewis, was just admit they had it wrong and apologise for the mistake, something the ACM has never done and, regrettably, probably never will.

IT SEEMS my post yesterday prompted the ACM to "toughen" up its factually incorrect post claiming the UK's Republic Campaign director, Graham Smith, had said that no republican model should be put to the Australian people. I'm not sure how they "toughened" the post up, and anyway, as one famous All Black used to say "toughening up is not the answer". The answer is to simply publish a mea culpa and note the mistake, as happened with comments about Gerry Adams. On past experience I doubt that will happen. Interestingly, no link to the audio of the interview has been published yet, despite the link being easily found yesterday on Google, and several other posts being made since.

Here's another statement from the "toughened" up post that gets deserves the Google treatment:
"[Graham Smith] neglected to mention was the choice of the overwhelming majority of elected republican delegates to the 1998 Constitutional Convention."

Now as with most things there is a kernel of truth here - Graham didn't mention the constitutional convention. But that's hardly relevant - the point Flint conveniently ignores is that the referendum was defeated because republicans were divided, not because the Australian people wanted the monarchy. As for the second part, this is simply not true - and worst of all Flint knows it. Flint has often written of the disagreements between direct elect republicans and parliament elect republicans. His writings on that subject thankfully disprove the above statement.

Prominent republican Ted Mack, who supported the 'No' case in 1999

Back in 2008 Flint was happily telling us that the republicans were deeply divided at the 1998 Constitutional Convention, so much so that the direct elect republicans threatened to walk out. The monarchists "mediated" and ensured that they didn't. One can speculate that the monarchists probably just encouraged the direct elect republicans to stay on, and fight the referendum on the basis that they'd get a second chance soon after. In fact given that the most prominent direct elect republicans at the time - Phil Cleary and Ted Mack - joined the No case, I would say it's a dead certainty that a deal was put together.

Not that I blame the direct elect republicans. They wanted their model put forward, as did parliamentary elect republicans. Both sides were to blame for the impasse the monarchists went on to exploit. That's why Flint has got it wrong: while it is true the ARM delegates supported parliamentary election, that doesn't mean that they were the "overwhelming majority of elected republican delegates" - if it were true, how does he explain his alliance with the direct election elected republican delegates? I don't expect an answer to be forthcoming. This is why their stitch-up with direct election republicans is important, and why Flint is contradicting himself. What the monarchists knew was that if the convention had voted against the parliamentary election model, Prime Minister John Howard would have to make good on his promise he made at the opening of the Convention, which was:
"If this Convention does not express a clear view on a preferred republican alternative, then the people will be asked - after the next election - to vote in a preliminary plebiscite which presents them with all the reasonable alternatives.

Then a formal constitutional referendum offering a choice between the present system and the republican alternative receiving most support in the preliminary plebiscite would follow."

The monarchists strategy was, and still is, to prevent plebiscites from happening at all costs. Their cause is lost if they go ahead. They know that the plebiscite process will overcome the differences apparent at the 1999 referendum between direct and parliamentary election republicans. It keeps them awake at night thinking of the Australian people making the decision for themselves.

So when the question of the model was put to the Constitutional Convention, most of the direct elect republicans abstained, ensuring the model was recommended 73 votes to 57 with 22 abstentions (another Google search reveals the full voting break-down from the hansard of the convention). As you can see on those numbers if there were no abstentions, the resolution would've failed and the plebiscites on the model would have to be held. Clearly, the assertion that an overwhelming majority of elected republican delegates supported the model is plainly wrong, and should be withdrawn and corrected.

LJ Holden
Republican Movement of Aotearoa New Zealand
PO Box 5063, Wellesley Street
Auckland 1141
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