David Flint: yesterday's man

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Lewis Holden

Sometimes, he makes honest mistakes, admits Lewis Holden. What he doesn't do, in sharp contrast to David Flint, is make things up to bolster his own arguments. Also unlike Flint, Lewis Holden has the ability to admit when he is wrong.

Some I make mistakes. In fact, quite often — but as my grandfather used to say, "the measure of the man is his ability to learn from and admit to his mistakes." My grandfather served in the Pacific as a mechanic for the RNZAF. He once told me about a fitter in the Pacific who refused to follow advice from his fellow mechanics, so much so that he missed a key component of a Corsair's engine (I think it was a bolt attaching the engine cover to the fuselage) which nearly killed a pilot. It's an important lesson that sadly not everyone has had the chance to learn.

David Flint's latest attempt at manipulating statements I've made should be read on this basis. I'm happy to admit when I'm wrong and will go on record as saying I'm not always right. But I will not stand by while my statements are twisted to make it appear as if I'm manipulating the facts to suit my opinions. In a post published first thing this morning, Flint claims that I have been "proven" wrong on three separate accounts, and therefore nothing I say can be trusted; and New Zealanders should "be aware". Aside from the ridiculous hyperbole of this statement, it's obvious that Flint is getting rattled at being constantly called out, and is attempting to regain ground. He can't bring himself to link to this blog, as it might just allow his readers to make up their own minds as to who is telling the truth. And I assume from the number of spelling mistakes in the post in question that it was written very quickly in anger.

While Flint accuses me of being wrong on three counts, I have shown in another post Flint actually manipulated a statement made by Republic Campaign's Graham Smith to a Chinese radio station. This resulted in someone editing the post to "toughen" it up - to make it appear more accurate. I suspect this is the reason for the attention, that and my comparison of Flint to Hiro Onooda, the Japanese solider fighting the Second World War long after it had ended because of his spiritual devotion to his Emperor. By granddad's standards Flint's actions are by far worse than anything I've done, which can be put down to not fully checking the facts first. At least I don't make stuff up.

Here's the claims, broken down one by one.

First, Flint states that I was wrong to say that Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams did not visit Australia in 1999 and call for Australians to vote Yes. I was wrong. I couldn't find any reference to Adams visit to Australia. Flint's repetition of the claim only goes to show his underlying agenda is to repeat it as often as possible, to dog-whistle about implied links between the ARM and the IRA. The fact that Malcolm Turnbull didn't mention it in his campaign diary shows this claim is an unimportant sideshow. It shows a lack of substantive argument.

Secondly, Flint states that I claimed Malcolm Turnbull did not propose omitting the words "president" and "republic" from the 1999 referendum question. He says "Mr. Holden says this just did not happen." This is totally inaccurate. You can read on my old blog to see what I actually said. My point was that the Bill for the referendum didn't use the words President and republic because there was no need for them, as it was the long-title of the Bill. Turnbull himself sums up why the words "president" and "republic" weren't used - hilariously they are largely because of the ACM's own, sadly successful, disinformation campaign - in the Hansard Flint has linked to.

This was to refute Flints claim that Turnbull wanted the words removed. This is simply not true. At no point did I say that it didn't happen at all - I said that if Turnbull wanted the words excluded, he wouldn't have put out a follow-up submission with the words added (and yes, I did read the Hansard Professor - there's a link to it on my old blog!). Again, the reason Flint makes an issue of this irrelevant side-issue to hide from the fact that the ACM didn't want the question to refer to the Queen as Head of State. The ACM knows the idea of the Queen as Australia's Head of State is offensive to most Australians, hence they do all that they can to obfuscate the point, even writing a whole book about it.

Thirdly, Flint states via a heading that I claimed "most republican delegates did not support the ARM model". I never said anything of the sort. What I said was that Flint deliberately ignored the fact that the actual vote on the model only passed because direct elect republicans abstained. I'm happy to concede that I was wrong on the direct election republicans and that there may have been other republicans who abstained also; who therefore allowed the model to pass, and that only 11 of the abstentions were from direct elect republicans. But that is a minor point. It doesn't answer the more serious allegation that the ACM stitched-up with the republicans and convinced them to abstain from the vote, bringing them on board for the No case to divide republicans and win a hollow victory in 1999. Flint won't admit to this as to do so would show that the No victory at the 1999 referendum was not an endorsement of the monarchy.

Minimalist republican Peter Costello

And anyway, if you include the all the supporters of a republic who abstained (such as minimalists like McGarvie) there's only two or three monarchists abstaining (Ed Lockett didn't seem to know either way, Peter Costello was a minimalist, etc) and at most 19 republicans abstaining; meaning they could've defeated the motion 87 - 73 had they voted no on the motion. In that case Howard would've had to make good on his promise to hold plebiscites on the model of a republic, which would've eventually defeated the monarchy. Now, again, we have to ask why this matters so much to Flint. Remember, originally Flint asserted that Graham Smith ignored the fact that the "overwhelming majority" of elected republican delegates supported the model that Graham was being critical of. In fact when you look at the arguments made by Flint previously that republicans were hopelessly divided, this cannot be the case. The fact is that republicans were divided to the point that they only won as a result of minimalist and direct elect republicans abstaining.

When you think about it, it is kind of funny the monarchists expend so much time and energy on re-writing history, and fighting yesterday's battles. I guess it comes with the territory.

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