Yesterday, Mike Keating and I published an article on the ABC website about what it would cost for Australians to create an Australian republic, which worked out to be about $250 million. This is as opposed to a figure of $2.5 billion circulated by David Flint, head of the monarchist group, Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy (ACM).
WE SAID at the beginning of that article:
"The problem republicans face is that monarchists like David Flint are happy to exaggerate, distort and sometimes even deceive to argue their case. Their strategy is to try to create a myth that will plant a seed of doubt in the minds of the uninformed. This is normally all it takes for referendums to be defeated in Australia because amendments to the Constitution are so difficult to pass under our system."
Flint is a prolific writer and averages an article on the ACM website every day, and often writes more. I said yesterday that now that his deceit over the costs of a republic had been exposed, he would shrug his shoulders and simply move on to creating another myth.
And so it has proven.
Yesterday, Flint made the ludicrous allegation that republicanism in Australia has its origins in white supremacy and as a front for the Communist Party.
Then he went on to say the following:
"With the confirmation that Australian politics was infiltrated by the republican communists up to the eighties, the obvious question is did it magically stop there? To what extent is the current republican movement made up or supported by former proponents of a Marxist peoples’ republic?
"This is particularly relevant when it is recalled that the leaders of the republican movement refuses to reveal anything about whatever politicians’ republic they have in mind for Australia. What are they hiding?"
The Australian Republican Movement (ARM) has a policy of maintaining a dignified silence when it comes to David Flint, mainly because we trust in the intelligence of the Australian people to sort fact from fiction. We also know, from long experience, that Flint's more objectionable statements and pompous demeanour routinely attract people to our cause.
Therefore, as a democratically elected office-holder of the ARM, I will not on the ARM's behalf make any statement about his latest absurd and libellous claim.
As a private citizen and journalist, however, I feel it is my obligation to make the truth known and expose lies and deception wherever I find them.
So, to that end, let's examine Flint's accusation that the ARM is involved in some sort of vast underground conspiracy and is a front for Marxists.
Firstly, for intelligent Australians not trapped in the 1950s, who have moved beyond the Cold War, seen the Berlin Wall fall, China and Russia embrace capitalism, then entered the 21st Century and seen that the only two beleaguered outposts of Marxism left in the world are Cuba and North Korea, the thought that the ARM's real underlying motivation is to create a Marxist nirvana here in Australia must seem way out there upon the loony side of crackpot.
This crackpot claim rockets stratospherically out into the realms of impossibility when you know the following facts about the Australian Republican Movement:
- The ARM is fully democratic non-partisan advocacy organization with several thousand members right across Australia.
- It's goal is nothing more than to create an Australian republic with an Australian head of state.
- Any ARM member can stand for election as an office holder at national, state and local level; elections are held every two years.
- It has a constitution lodged with, and is monitored by, ASIC.
- It is run by office holders who are elected for two yearly terms.
- These elections are free and are ones in which any ARM member may nominate for a position at a national, state or local level.
In terms of personnel, the ARM was established by a number of prominent Australians in July 1991, including investment banker and barrister Malcolm Turnbull, author Thomas Kenneally, sportsman Ian Chappell and film director Fred Schepsi. No Marxists.
Indeed, Malcolm Turnbull, who was Chair the ARM from 1993 until 2000 and is a life member of the ARM, went on to become the Liberal Party leader in the Federal Parliament, which is not a typical role for a committed Marxist. He still sits as a Liberal member for the seat of Wentworth in Sydney.
The ARM is, these days, made up of people from all walks of life and holding all sorts of political views. Just taking the Executive of the ARM for instance, neither the chair, Major General Michael Keating, nor the senior deputy chair, eminent political scientist Professor John Warhurst, are members of a political party. The junior deputy chair, Lyn Petrie, is a Liberal Party member and the treasurer and company secretary, Peter van Vliet, supports Labor. This sort of mix extends throughout the organization.
As just mentioned, these days the organization is chaired by the retired Major General, Michael 'Mike' Keating AO, a man I know well, for whom I have unbounded respect and who I can state with complete certainty is no Marxist.
Flint has cast aspersions on everyone in the ARM. However, given Mike is the chair and oversees the organization, this juvenile slander has been cast particularly at him. And slander is what it is, make no mistake.
Here is a brief bio of Mike Keating, a person who has dedicated practically his entire life to serving the Australian nation:
Major General Mike Keating AO has been Chair of the Australian Republican Movement since 2006.
He was born in Albury, NSW in 1945 and graduated from Duntroon Military College in 1967, being awarded the Sword of Honour. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Royal Australian Infantry Corps and saw operational duty in South Vietnam.
He was promoted to the rank of Major General in June 1994 and served in that rank as Commander 1st Division, Commander Training Command (Army) and Head, Strategic Command, Australian Defence Headquarters in 1999 and 2000 during the major ADF deployment to East Timor.
He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in June 1993 in recognition of his service as Commander 3rd Brigade and as an Officer in June 2000 for distinguished service to the ADF and to the Australian Army in high level command and staff appointments.
Major General Mike Keating retired in January 2001 after 37 years service. He now lives in Brisbane and works part-time as a mediator with the Queensland Department of Justice.
Flint deserves nothing but contempt and scorn for disrespecting this fine and honourable servant of our nation.
Far away from Flint's loony speculation, the ARM is an open, publicly regulated institution, made up of ordinary people working to try to create an even greater Australia.
The great irony here is that the organization David Flint heads, the ACM, is not democratic and its motives are shadowy. I will talk more about it, and about David Flint, in a future article.
There are only two options for why Flint made this profoundly idiotic statement. Either he is a complete lunatic who has lost touch with reality, or he is calculated deceiver aiming to convince the impressionable and gullible by lies and deception. Either way, he should apologise to the ARM and to Mike Keating and resign his position as the head of the ACM, a body that holds itself up as apparently having high standards of propriety.
We shall soon see, by its actions, whether that is the case.
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