The campaign by media personalities Ray Martin and Peter FirzSimons broadcast on Channel 9's 60 Minutes programme on ANZAC evening was, as we said here on 26 April, a serious miscalculation. Ray Martin had introduced it on Australia Day, as the first video below indicates.
The resulting headlines probably encouraged them to repeat it with increased vigour on ANZAC Day in a Channel 9 Sixty Minutes programme, as the second video below shows. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.
This alienated a good slice of those in the already minuscule support base for flag change, and more importantly, those who respect them for their achievements.
Now leading News Limited editor and commentator, David Pemberthy, a republican and supporting a flag change, has slammed their move. He is not alone.
In “ Why Ray was wrong to trash the flag on ANZAC Day” ( The Punch 25/4 and The Daily Telegraph 27/4) he says Ray Martin had suffered an uncharacteristic lack of judgment – and possibly also taste – in using our most important national day to reignite debate over the Australian flag.
“In doing so he has damaged the republican cause, by exposing himself and the broader republican movement to accusations of opportunism and grand-standing.”
He describes Ray Martin’s move as “a ham-fisted salvo” which was doomed to end in tears. The flag debate he says has absolutely nothing to do with Anzac Day. Few Australians would want it sullied in anyway by side debates like this.
“It is a surprising move because, for all the elite sneers he has attracted over the years for his populist work on commercial television, Martin has been a terrific reader of the Australian people, and a good guy who has championed great causes such as reconciliation. He had also been a bit of an asset for the republican cause but I fear his good work on that front has been undone by this weekend’s poorly-timed foray into the flag debate.”
This episode demonstrates once again how extrordinarily out of touch republican flag changers can be.