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CANTdo freedom of speech

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How the ACM tried to intimidate Independent Australia into silence. Senior correspondent Barry Everingham reports — and asks some important questions.

by senior correspondent Barry Everingham

[Editor update (22 March 2012): David Flint has exercised his right of reply to this piece, which may be read here.]

The arrogance of David Flint is out of control and it’s high time we asked — just who does he really think he is?

I get the impression he spends his time imitating himself which, considering his reputation, is a very dangerous neighbourhood for him to visit.

Last week, I received an email from one of the ACM “supporters” — a “supporter” of ACM is a hapless believer in the retention of the monarchy who pays money to keep ACM going but has no voting rights in the management or policy of ACM.

Those rights are vested in a chosen few – called “members” – who are in the thrall of Flint, who is the real power behind the shaky ACM throne.

Back to Flint’s arrogance.

Over the years I have been watching Flint and ACM I have garnered a few supporters of my own — disgruntled monarchists who love the Constitutional status quo, but who despise Flint and his arrogance.

Those good folk are in semi-regular contact with me, either by email or, lately, by telephone.

Flint finds it impossible to admit they actually exist and, in his sneering and feline manner, regularly asks for their names, claiming my silence is an indication that the emails are concocted by me.

Sadly for Flint, they do exist and, even sadder for him, I have absolutely no intention whatsoever of compromising those brave folk by putting them inn to Flint’s sights — we know what Flint is capable of when irked.

Last week, I received an email from a new correspondent who, after a diligent process, I was able to identify as a bona fide “supporter”; that is, the name and address given corresponded with the name and address on the list I happen to have — you are not as loved as you think, Professor!

The email started:

‘Dear Barry,

There is concern at the way in which Professor Flint and his side-kick Jai Martinkovits along with Senator Cory Bernardi are hijacking the monarchist cause for their own right-wing political ends and there are questions that should be put and answered. However, it seems that no one can control Flint.’

After my usual due diligence, we published and no sooner was the material on our website then Flint hit the telephone — demanding the material be removed and threatening  legal action.

Flint imitating Flint with a vengeance.

I would have told him to go to hell but my editor, David Donovan, took a more cautious path. He decided to immediately pull the story awaiting legal advice and a second confirmation of the facts (he had asked for and received confirmation, of course, before publishing the original piece). After receiving this renewed assurance, the next day he sent an email to Flint asking for his response to the allegations within a certain timeframe. No comment was received from Flint. (You can read the editor's email to the Professor at the end of this piece.)

So let’s see what got up those quivering nostrils of Flint’s.

It seems his new protégé, the baby faced Jai Martinkovits – who replaced the former star pupil of Flint’s, Thomas Flynn, who was seemingly thrown onto the ACM scrapheap – is doubling up.

He is not only the executive director of ACM but is, by his own admission, the executive director of a right wing cowboy outfit called “CANdo” (Community Action Network).

Screen dumps taken on Friday 9 March showing same address for both organisations.

How this affects his paid job with ACM isn’t known, but what is known is that CANdo and ACM both operate out of the same address: 104 Bathurst Street, Sydney — as can be seen from the above screen dumps of the contact pages of both websites taken last Friday.

Now, CANdo is nothing more or nothing less than an alliance of lunar rightists, the real bottom of the barrel crowd, who are anti-climate change, anti-gay marriage, anti-abortion, anti-Muslim, anti-immigration — the list goes on.

One of Flint’s alleged disciples, the right wing South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi, is a CANdo man. Really, I have warned young Jai about (figuratively) getting into bed with Flint, as he never knows who he will meet on that journey.

Now here’s a rub, so dear reader it is time to fasten your seat belt.

Our correspondent insists that he has never joined CANdo, nor expressed any interest in receiving any correspondence from them. Yet he received an email (which can be seen here) from Jai, that he claims was sent to ACM supporters asking for funds to support CANdo’s activities. This has outraged the latest defector, who – if the allegations are true – is right to be offended that his ACM details have been shared with this other group.

This publication has no way of determining for sure that the correspondent did not somehow voluntarily join the CanDo mailing list, however given ACM and CANdo operate from the same address and have the same executive director, there would appear to certain grounds for suspicion that mailing lists may indeed have been shared. As I mentioned, despite our requests, the ACM have not provided any comment on this issue apart from threats.

The correspondent also points out that not all ACM supporters are Liberals — that many are ALP supporters and Greens, therefore receiving messages from this highly conservative organisation would be most undesirable to many ACM supporters.

The anger of my new defector seems to know no bounds — and has been simmering away for a long time.

Sydney University friends and classmates, John Howard and David Flint.

Read the following from the email:
‘In 1991, John Howard was instrumental in setting up Australians for Constitutional Monarchy. When he came to power in 1996 he recruited his old college friend, David Flint, and in 1999 made him Convener of ACM. He had earlier given him a plum job with the Australian Broadcasting Authority.’
The correspondent then alleges that Howard “…orchestrated matters so that ACM would control the NO committee.”

The correspondent further alleges that Howard excluded from the NO Committee anyone associated with the other main monarchist group, the Australian Monarchist League.

He claims that Howard:
“…did not appoint any leading monarchists who were with the Monarchist League (such as Brigadier Alf Garland, Dr. David Mitchell and Ken Gifford QC) to the committee. He kept things in-house.”
The correspondent further claims that Howard
‘…approached Liberal funders to contribute to the NO committee, and the ACM has continued to use the donor list for itself ever since.’

The correspondent also alleges that the ACM
‘…appropriated all of the names of volunteers for polling booth manning provided by the RSL, the National Party, the Christian Democrats, One Nation etc., and claimed them as their own supporters.'
This, he claims,
“…is why ACM has more funds than any other organisation involved in the debate and why they have been claiming more members than anyone else and how Flint is able to exercise absolute control.”
These troubling allegations come from a bona fide ACM supporter we believe is acting in good faith. In the public interest, these allegations deserve a categorical response from the ACM. Flint has been offered a chance to respond to these allegations for this piece. So far he has declined to do so. Independent Australia still offers Flint the right of reply to this piece. We are merely interested in the truth, unvarnished and unsuppressed.

And to those ACM supporters who are similarly concerned at Flint’s seeming total control of ACM, please get in touch with me through this website.

The following is managing editor David Donovan’s highly reasonable email to Flint last Saturday:
From: David Donovan [mailto:editor@independentaustralia.net]
Sent: Sunday, 11 March 2012 9:59 AM
To: David Flint
Cc: Barry Everingham
Subject: RE:

Mr Flint,

As you know, after your abrupt phone call on Friday, we pulled the story on Jai and the CanDo alliance. We did this because we are a responsible publisher and in the interests of good faith, we have no wish to publish anything that is untrue, or may potentially be untrue without appropriate disclaimers.

In the meantime, we have reconfirmed this story with our contacts and others and we believe it is in the public interest for the details of the email to be published, though with details about your objections to the content.

The email was certainly no fabrication as you incorrectly alleged to me on the phone — and the correspondent is a real person whose bona fides are unquestionable.

On the contrary to your angry assertion last Friday on the phone, most of the facts in the piece are able to be confirmed from the public record and would not appear to be dispute. The remaining facts appear to be strongly supported by circumstantial evidence, as we will thoroughly detail in a revised piece we plan to publish next week.

We would like to know what items you think are incorrect. We would be pleased to incorporate your comments in a revised piece, or alter our piece to reflect any information that we have inadvertently and in good faith got wrong in the original article. We will give you until noon on Monday to give your response.

Alternatively, as Barry alluded to, we would be pleased to grant you a right of reply after the piece is republished.

We are doing this because we are a responsible publication. We would note that this is far more than it would appear you have ever offered anyone else about the claims made on your website.

Regarding your threat of legal action, we find it most regrettable that you would consider this course. Please be aware that we have received advice from [name deleted] QC, which is now guiding our current course of action.

Please do not telephone me about this email — in the interests of transparency, please put all your statements to me in writing.

Regards,

DD

David Donovan|  Managing Editor

[David Flint has exercised his right of reply to this piece, which may be read here.]

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
 
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