Al Grassby ( 1926-2005), was a minister in the Whitlam government, and a ¨passionate¨ republican. His book “The Australian Republic” was published by Pluto Press in 1993. In his authoritative 2005 book “Head of State”, Sir David Smith tells how Grassby actually claimed the monarchy was responsible for the recession in the 1980’s, for one million who were unemployed, for the business excess of the period and for the exodus of our top scientists.
This was only one example of leading republicans making ludicrous claims against the Australian Crown and the benefits of moving to a politicians´republic. Grassby was a prominent campaigner in the years leadingup to the 1999 referendum. The Australian people saw through these claims.
Paul Sheehan recently wrote in The Sydney Moring Herald about a sequel to the TV “Underbelly” series on organised crime. The sequel is called “Underbelly: A Tale Of Two Cities”.
He says this reflects a real-life tapestry of corruption which could be called "A Tale Of Two Statues". He says one statue, in the town of Griffith, is a monument to honesty. The other statue, in Canberra, is a monument to deceit.
The statue in Griffith was paid for by the local Rotary Club and commemorates the life and death of Donald Mackay, who resisted the Calabrian mafia who were operating around the town of Griffith. “For his anti-drugs campaign, Mackay was murdered by Robert Trimbole,” Mr. Sheehan states. This was done by an “enforcer” for the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union.
“It was then given extensive political cover by a Labor politician, Al Grassby,” he adds.
He points out that a taxpayer funded $ 72,000 statue of Grassby as "father of multiculturalism" was recently placed in Canberra’s Civic Centre by the ACT Government at a time when evidence of Grassby's corruption, mafia links and treachery was widely known.
He continues “In the report of the Nagle special commission of inquiry in 1986, John Nagle, QC, found that Grassby had engaged in a smear campaign to protect the real murderers of Donald Mackay.
¨He wrote that ‘no decent man’ could have propagated ‘the scurrilous lies’ that Grassby distributed about the Mackay family. He described Grassby's performance as a witness as ‘long-winded, dissembling, and unconvincing, constantly driven to uneasy claims of defective memory’.
¨Grassby,” he says “was paid $40,000 by leaders of the Calabrian mafia to circulate an anonymous smear sheet claiming Mackay had been murdered at the behest of his wife and son after a family argument.”
“ In July 1980, Grassby went to a friend of mine, Michael Maher, the state Labor member for Drummoyne, and asked him to read the document in Parliament. When I asked Maher why Grassby had approached him, he told me: ‘Because I had the biggest concentration of Italians in Haberfield, Five Dock, Concord and Drummoyne. He thought I could play the Italian vote,’ “ Paul Sheehan adds.
Mr Sheehan writes that this was multiculturalism, Grassby-style.
“His career was littered with race-based politics,” he says. “He was a hardened liar who led a double life, both in public and private. And the ACT Labor Government put up a statue in his honour. When Donald Mackay's four children complained about this public insult, they were brushed aside.”
We are still waiting for the republican movement to admit the silly claims made by Grassby and other republicans were untrue and that they knew they were untrue at the time. Perhaps they could join in the denunciation of the ACT Government´s gratuitous insult to the memory of the late Donald Mackay.