The funeral of the late Stan Zemanek, the well known radio talkback host and television personality, was held in Sydney on Monday 17 July, 2007. He was a robust, strongly opinionated and entertaining presenter, respected – at times grudgingly – in media circles and much loved by his admirers, friends and family. His long struggle with the illness which eventually took his life attracted sympathy to him and his family. Constitutional monarchists will recall that he was one of a mere handful of journalists who in the nineties came out firmly against republicanism, and particularly against the changes proposed in the 1999 referendum. His requiem mass attracted a large and overflowing congregation and was broadcast across the nation. Even those who so often opposed him paid tribute to him.
But according to Fiona Connolly in the Daily Telegraph on18 July, 2007, when the Sydney radio station presenter and strong republican Mike Carlton was asked by a caller if he were going to the funeral that day, he said he "loathed" and "hated" Zemanek. He would “only go to check that he was actually dead.” Reporting this as “a disgusting new low”, Ms. Connolly said that Carlton’s on-air partner Peter FitzSimons – “who joined the show last year in a desperate bid to rescue Carlton's paltry ratings “- did his best to cut him off, but Carlton continued, saying: "I don't like Stan and he didn't like me and I'm not going to be hypocritical and turn up."
The Telegraph, outraged, immediately penned an editorial condemning Carlton for this "shameful act.” The editor said that Carlton should be ashamed of himself – “but he is incapable of self-scrutiny, so he will not be. His bosses at 2UE [the Sydney radio station] should recognise his offence against decency and pull him off the air forthwith.” Later in the day, the newspaper reported 2UE was now in “meltdown,” with Carlton forced to make a “half-hearted” apology. "In hindsight those spontaneous remarks might have been better left to another time," Carlton said in his “mealy-mouthed” statement. "In replying to the listener, it was not my intention to cause distress to the Zemanek family. If that has happened, I regret it."
But that wasn't good enough for 2UE’s management, which labelled his attack "despicable". “This whole episode is one of our darkest moments and I hope we can move forward with the knowledge that while we may not always agree with each other and we may not like each other; we should at least respect the dead along with their family and friends and we MUST NEVER subject our listeners to such disgraceful behaviour ever again.”
Readers of this column will know that Mike Carlton has long waged a campaign against the constitutional monarchy, constitutional monarchism, and constitutional monarchists, not with sound reasoned argument, but with the weapons of ridicule, invective, and insult. But we thought that he would, on the very day of the funeral of Stan Zemanek, respect those proprieties which prevail in a decent, civilised society.
And on Mr Carlton, one of our readers, David Byers, sent us this vignette: “Some time ago, in the nineties, there was a live broadcast from The Royal Easter Show in Sydney. The show's host was the well known republican Mike Carlton. Mr Carlton’s guest that morning was the first ACM Convenor, Lloyd Waddy. During the interview, Mr Carlton was rude to the point of aggression; pushing away some material that Mr Waddy had brought with him and saying something like "get that rubbish away from me!" Mr Waddy was, as usual, warm and friendly displaying a good sense of humour.
Sure of the public’s support for a republic, Mr Carlton attempted to prove his point by turning to some people walking past. He asked them whether they supported the Monarchy. Much to his great surprise and evident disappointment, they all expressed the view that they did support the Crown! Mr Carlton shouted back "You’re all mad!" or words to that effect.”
Constitutional monarchists "must be English," and have "no pride in having a “foreigner” as Queen."
In the meantime, readers may recall republican Colin Clowes personal attack in the Daily Telegraph on a supporter of the Crown, R.H Filmer, which we mentioned in this column on 20 June 2007. Mr. Clowes suggested Mr. Filmer must be English, and that he had no pride in having a “foreigner” as Queen. It was common in the years leading up to the referendum to attack constitutional monarchists as disloyal and un-Australian. Yet after the referendum, researchers at ANU found that those who voted No in 1999 were more attached to Australia than those who voted yes.
On 18 June 2007 the Telegraph published Mr. Filmer’s reply.
” I thank Colin Clowes of Lidcombe for his letter in reply of my letter (June 13). Just to clear the air, I will introduce myself: My name is Richard Filmer, I am a 63-yearold grandfather who retired honourably from NSW Police eight years ago. In my school days we were taught to love and respect the monarchy, no matter who the reigning monarch was. “When I swore my oath of office when I joined the NSW Police our oath was to the Queen of England and her heirs and successors. I am still a loyal subject of her Majesty even to this day. “The Queen does not govern over Australia – she is represented by the Governor-General, who in this era has very few powers other than matters of the realm. But, yes, Colin I am a very proud man to have served Her Majesty and my state of NSW in the preservation of peace. You might find if you look around that there are others who share my view. Rule Brittania.
God bless Australia.
J.A. Kirkpatrick of Darling Point added:
“Colin Clowes gets very excitable over the Solomon Islands, the Barmy Army, Peter Hollingworth and how R.H. Filmer signs himself. All these disparate subjects coalesce into repugnance for dignified Queen Elizabeth and our magnificent constitution that gives us our wonderful, stable, system of government. “Colin, think happy, not grumpy – you'll feel better and be nicer to have around.”
The Telegraph also published my letter:
”Rather than suggesting RH Filmer has no pride and is English anyway, Colin Clowes might like to know the Queen of Australia is not a foreigner, as he claims. As for her having the final say on our laws, the final say about our basic law is with us, the people.
”And as for her never having made a decision about Australia, in 1986 The Queen personally took the crucial decision which allowed the constitutional system to be wholly Australianised, solving a problem which had divided our politicians since 1901.”