New Zealanders sensibly show no intention, whatsoever, of changing their constitution to remove the New Zealand Crown.
This may explain the curious interest of the leader of the New Zealand republican movement, Mr Lewis Holden, who seems more concerned about changing the Australian constitution. He occasionally issues rulings on what he claims has happened in Australia. These are more consistent with what he would prefer to have happened, rather than what has actually happened.
So we expect Mr Holden to put his own interpretation on the fact that the number of "fans" or "likes" on the ACM Facebook page has just climbed to over 20,000.
…fraud alleged without evidence..
From time to time Mr. Holden rushes onto the ARM controlled website with some comment or other on the Australian scene. Unfortunately neither he nor the editor bother to check the facts.
His most recent claim was to say that the number of "fans" or "likes" which the ACM Facebook page has attracted is based on a fraud.
Now ACM is becoming accustomed to republicans making these wild allegations without any evidence whatsoever.
The former Minister of Finance, the Hon. Lindsay Tanner, did precisely this under parliamantary privilege.
Mr.Tanner did not even bother to apologise when the Australian Tax Office found his claims against ACM and some blameless citizens – including, we should point out, some prominent republicans – were completely baseless.
…litany of errors …
Now this is not the first occasion on which Mr Holden has made a wild and baseless allegation about ACM. When we referred to the fact that the Irish Republican Army's Gerry Adams campaigned for the Yes case in 1999, Mr Holden declared that we had invented this.
He even persuaded the Australian Republican Movement to join in the denigration of ACM. The current leaders of the ARM apparently did not bother to check with Malcolm Turnbull and Greg Barns about this and were consequently very much embarrassed when it was confirmed that Gerry Adams had in fact come to Australia and campaigned for the Yes case here in 1999.
Mr Holden's second embarrassing claim was to say that we were lying when we asserted that Malcolm Turnbull and the ARM wanted to remove two words from the referendum question, "president" and "republic".
Mr. Holden's proof was that Malcom Turnbull did not mention it in his book.
In any event , it is all in Hansard and thus very much on the public record. We publish some further information below which confirms that our report was absolutely correct.
…latest faux pas…
Mr Holden's latest faux pas is to cast doubt on the large number of hits and page views ACM's principal website is attracting, as well as the number of "fans" or “likes” on ACM’s Facebook.
As we reported above, we have now topped 20,000 . This approaches that of the major lobby, GetUp!. Now GetUp! has been generously endowed by such people as Mr George Soros and some Australian trade unions.
(The generosity of certain Australian trade unions to servicing the personal needs of their leaders has been filling the news recently, so we're not surprised that they have a surplus funds available to endow all manner of organisations.)
At this point we should explain to those who are not habitués of Facebook that to “like” ACM’s Facebook page, you have to click the word ”like”. That then allows you to engage or interact with ACM's Facebook page, to comment and to receive items posted on the page.
In a recent opinion piece, Mr. Holden says that only 25% of our "fans" interact with the page, lower than the 75% he experiences with his page. This means that they have posted a comment, "liked" a post, or viewed material we have posted.
First, we would be interested to know, without access to ACM's reporting facilities, how Mr. Holden has deduced these facts.
While these are not normally available, ACM is a transparent organisation and as such, we are happy to provide clarification. But instead of asking us, Mr Holden makes a wild and completely unjustified accusation for which there is no support.
He says it is "clear" we are paying for some overseas “service to pump up its numbers.”
He could have checked with us.
…a high rate of interaction…
The latest figure for monthly active users is 17, 593. This is the number of people who have interacted with or viewed the page or its posts, including fans and non fans. This was 88.91% of the number of "fans" at the time.
And most of our fans are from Australia, 93%, so we are hardly buying fans from some overseas service.
In fact until Mr. Holden mentioned this, I was unaware that such services existed. He also doubts this site's “impressive” page view statistics. They come from the reliable Google Urchin service. ACM responded to Mr. Holden's unfounded criticisms earlier this year.
mr. Holden may make wild baseless allegations, but at least he does not indulge in the racist attacks of some of his colleagues on the ARM controlled site who refer to me as “perma-tanned" and an "Indonesian born blow-in.”
...the Gerry Adams fiasco…
When I recalled the fact that Gerry Adams came to Australia during the referendum and became the only well known foreigner to campaign for a Yes vote, it was Mr. Holden who told the Australian republican Movement that this was untrue.
So the ARM’s media chief and Deputy President David Donovan sent this email to me:
"When did Gerry Adams come to Australia in 1999 and when did he ask Australians to vote yes to the referendum? No one seems to be able to find any record of either event.
Are you quite mad, a habitual liar or just an idiot? "
In “Winning new ARM approach,” 14 September, 2010, The Australian commented:
“It took us two seconds to discover Adams visited Australia for eight days in February 1999; we used the internet.
As for the other matter, here's a snippet from The Sun-Herald at the time:
"Mr Adams also urged Australians to vote yes in December's republic referendum. 'I believe in the republic as the democratic form of society,' he said. 'I don't have time for monarchies of any kind.'
"We hope that helps”.
….did Malcolm Turnbull want to change the 1999 referendum question?…..
For years Mr.Holden, has been saying ACM is lying when we claim that Malcolm Turnbull wanted to remove two words from the 1999 referendum question.
The words were, unbelievably,– “president” and “republic”.
Well Mr. Turnbull did- just read the Hansard report to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on 5 July 1999 (See our previous column on this).
…"Why have you dropped those words?" asks a republican MP…
Clearly confused by his proposal to remove the two words, the ‘passionate’ republican MP Nicola Roxon, now a minister in the Gillard Government, pins Malcolm Turnbull down at the hearing:
"I have noticed that in your suggested change you have also dropped the reference to a republic….The other thing is that I have noticed you use ‘Australia’s head of state’, rather than ‘President’….."
Mr.Turnbull gives a long, convoluted and entirely unconvincing answer. It is clear that he wants the two words removed. But this does not convince his supporters who are upset by this.
…torrent of ridicule..
Mr. Turnbull’s proposal was greeted by a torrent of ridicule and condemnation by republicans.
Constitutional monarchists sat back to watch Messrs Turnbull and Barns shooting themselves in the foot.
In the meantime, talk back radio went into overdrive.
“Turnbull’s republic strategy: please don’t mention the President,” and “Republicans Running Away from Their Republic” screamed the headlines in the then ultra-republican newspaper The Australian the next morning.
This was extremely damaging for the republican movement. The Australian was the flag bearer of the move for republican change, and weighted not only its editorial and opinion pages this way, but also its news. So did most of the mainline media.
To have your principal supporter ridiculing you must have made Messrs Turnbull and Barns wonder whether they should continue this line.
The Canberra Times also heaped ridicule on them. Their headline recalled the BBC comedy, Fawlty Towers.
“Don’t mention the republic,” they sneered.
Kerry Jones recounts how the story ran in the press and on talk back radio for days in her book The People's Protest, 2000, pp.161-162.
Malcolm Turnbull was no doubt warned that the momentum from this could destroy the Yes case.
Finally as Sir David Smith later said ina paper to the nation's only federalist think tank The Samuel Griffith Society: "Two days later, responding to the ridicule and condemnation which resulted, Turnbull changed his submission to the Parliamentary Committee and conceded that these terms might stay.
He proposed instead that the question refer to the President replacing the Queen as Head of State.
This relieved the republican media. “Hold it: republic’s back in question,” declared The Australian on 8 July, 1999.
Nevertheless some leading elements in the ARM still argued that the two words should be removed in their submissions to the Joint Select Parliamentary committee which was charged into looking at the referendum bill.
The Committee reported:
Use of the words ‘republic’ and ‘President’
2.9 Many submissions and many witnesses expressed concerns about theemphasis of the long title. Some witnesses advocated a long title thatwould simply refer to the establishment of ‘the Commonwealth ofAustralia as a republic’. (Professor John Warhurst, Professor Leslie Zines, Mr Stuart Hamilton, Mr Terry Wiltshire)
Others argued against the inclusion of the word “republic “on the basis that the term ‘may be both confusing and misleading. "Republic" is a term that carries political and historical connotations that are irrelevant to the referendum’.( Mr Jason Yat-Sen Li)
There were proposals for preferredwords such as ‘A Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution to provide for an Australian citizen to replace the Queen as Australia’s Head of State’. (The Hon Michael Lavarch, Australian Council of Trade Unions, Dr John Hirst, Senator Jan McLucas, Mr Bernie Treston )
….the question approved by the republican politicians…
The all party Committee of 18 had no more than 2 or 3 constitutional monarchists as members. It rejected the proposal which then went to the Cabinet which probably had a majority of those supporting the Yes Case. The Cabinet agreed .
The bill then went to the parliament where in each house about two thirds of the members were republican. Both passed the bill.
His denial that this did not occur is yet another 'own goal" by Mr. Holden and by the ARM controlled site which publishes him.