More monarchist fibs about the flag

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According to the ACM, when Barry Everingham writes something on this website, this is meant to be the position of the Australian Republican Movement. Managing editor David Donovan corrects the record concerning this insane proposition.

It is a practice of a certain section of the monarchist movement, namely the group Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, to frequently tell lies and half-truths to support their case. A classic example is the fiction that they have over 25,000 real Facebook followers— more than the Liberal Party, more than GetUp, more than any Australian news organisation. This, of course, is so incredible that is simply not credible and the analysis by Lewis Holden shows that it is almost certainly the result of them buying ‘Likes’, showing the lengths they will go to bolster their shaky argument that Australia should remain under the British monarchy.

But, well, perhaps this is a little unfair to the rank and file supporters of the ACM (it has only a handful of members) since the source of almost all this mendacity is the head of the organisation, David Flint. There are any number of examples of this, but perhaps the most prevalent is his dogged and repeated assertion that the Australian Republican Movement wants to change the Australian flag.

The fact of the matter is that changing the flag is not part of the ARM’s objectives in any way — because it is seen by that organisation as a completely separate issue to becoming a Republic.

In its policy statement, for instance, the ARM describes itself as:

‘a volunteer, non-party-political, self-funding, single-issue advocacy organisation’

that advocates:

‘an Australian Republic, with the Australian people being unambiguously sovereign in a fully independent Australian nation.’

The ARM maintains, quite sensibly, that whilst both issues are broadly about Australian identity, changing this nation’s flag is not, in fact, synonymous with becoming a Republic. Australia could become a Republic and not change its flag, like Fiji did; or it could change its flag and not become a Republic, like the Canadians.

In support of this argument is the fact that the process for changing the flag is very different to that for becoming a Republic. The Australian Government could, technically, change the official flag today in Parliament if it wished, by a simple piece of legislation to amend the 1952 Flag Act. To become a Republic, however, there is no other option (barring revolution) but to change the Constitution via the arduous provisions of s128 of that creaking and increasingly flaky looking document.

So, the ARM is a single issue organisation seeking an Australian Republic, and since changing the flag is not an essential part of that goal, they regard it as being outside their remit. And it has, since the mid-1990s, repeatedly maintained this line, saying that there are other organisations, like AusFlag, that have changing the flag as their aim.

Of course, those facts don’t stand in the way of Flint saying it is the ARM’s goal. His latest claim, made yesterday, was that the ARM has changed its position on this issue as the result of something written on this website — a publication that is not affiliated, does not speak for and is not endorsed by the ARM, and has never been.

Here’s what he said on the ACM blog:

‘The republican movement unconvincingly suppressed any open support for flag change when they lost the 1999 referendum.  But that changed on 5 February in a website controlled by a key national committee member David Donovan - until recently Deputy Chair and National Media Director.

‘He still speaks for the republican movement, for example, in his bitter personal attack on The Queen and Prince William on the ABC’s opinion site The Drum around the time The Queen was here.’

There were several untruths in just those few words alone:

Firstly, Flint calls me a "key national committee member of the ARM". In fact, I resigned from the ARM national committee last year. This is no secret, it is clearly stated in my bio on this website. I don’t direct the ARM — and the ARM certainly does not direct me.

Secondly, this website has always been unaligned and unaffiliated with the ARM. The ARM is a single issue lobby group and this is a news and opinion website that writes about every issue under the sun. Does Flint think the ARM is taking a stand against nuclear power, like IA does; or supports Independent non-partisan politics, like we do? Is delving into the justice system and the role of banks in our society part of the ARM’s modus operandi? The thought is absurd.

Thirdly, of course, I never undertook a bitter personal attack on The Queen, despite Flint's ideological bedfellow The Australian claiming that I did. You can read about this episode here.

Fourthly, the ARM did not suppress support for flag change after losing the 1999 referendum, this policy changed at least five years before the referendum, in around 1994.

Does David Flint believe all his claims? Of course not, to do so would be insanity; he is simply a clever, yet entirely unprincipled, person. Telling lies is of no concern to him if it serves his purpose. If he throws enough mud, some of it might stick and convince a few credulous people who don’t know him very well. What an excellent lawyer he must be.

Of course, the article on February 6 (not the 5th — another mistake) was not even written by me, but rather by my esteemed colleague, IA senior correspondent Barry Everingham — who, for the record, is not even an ARM member. He says we should change the flag, and I agree with him, but this is simply not the position of the ARM.

Perhaps the best summation of this episode comes from former ARM Queensland branch convenor Ross Garrad, who said the following on the (non-ARM) Facebook page An Australian Republic yesterday:

‘Barry Everingham says something in an article published on a website managed by David, who used to be a key member of ARM's National Committee, therefore what Barry said is obviously the position of the ARM. Is there no limit to Lord Flint's dishonesty?’

Will David Flint apologise for telling fibs? Don't hold your breath.

The sad aspect is, after his fall from grace as chair of the ABA, having to resign after concealing and then lying about his relationship with Alan Jones, Flint has become a figure of mirth and fun to many Australians.

Whether it be his pompously affected attire and accent; his ultra right-wing climate change denialist views; his 1950’s era Women’s Weekly style website with its unremitting hero-worship of royalty of any species or nationality; to his strange and utterly self-defeating argument that the Queen is somehow not the Australian head of state – all tied in with an utter lack of insight and the absence of any irony or humour. And, of course, his credibility was finally shattered for good last year, quite hilariously, when he was suckered into believing the UK Guardian’s April Fool’s joke about that staunchly republican publication deciding to become a monarchist publication.

I receive daily emails from a range of sensible and honourable monarchists telling me that they hope he will resign or somehow get pushed out of his position as chair of the ACM, as he is pushing more and more people away from their cause. They know, as we do, that he is the Australian Republicans’ best, albeit entirely unwitting, ally.

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