One of the most scathing critics of monarchy, which he accuses of corruption, has caused a storm of protest in Kalgoorlie. Greg Barns was ARM campaign director during the referendum, and then successor to Malcolm Turnbull as ARM Chair. Mr Barns remains a leading spokesman for Australia’s republicans, sometimes at conferences and more often in the media. He has attacked Australians’ interest in Princess Mary and the Vatican’s appointment of Cardinal Pell as Archbishop of Sydney.
According to a report by Alana Buckley-Carr in the Kalgoorlie Miner on 10 November, 2005, Mr Barns strongly criticised a mining conference in Kalgoorlie, the annual Diggers and Dealers Forum. He said it should be moved from Kalgoorlie, which he claimed is not “the centre of the mining universe”. He said Kalgoorlie’s standard of accommodation and its other attractions are not of sufficiently high quality.
That was not my experience when I visited Kalgoorlie last year for the inauguration of our new ACM branch. Frankly, I found the accommodation, food and attractions to be excellent, and the townspeople most hospitable.
But perhaps republicans expect something else – remember the candle-lit dinners in five star hotels before the referendum. At the 1998 Constitutional Convention, the leading republicans stayed at the city’s most luxurious hotel, the five star Hyatt. The constitutional monarchists were put up in an excellent motel in the suburbs. Then the republicans put on a glittering exhibition for a new flag.
Well, as you can imagine, the people of Kalgoorlie are not exactly happy with our leading republican. The Forum chairman, Brian Hurley referred to Mr Barns as a “failed politician” The president of the chamber of Commerce, Kitty Prodonovich said Mr Barn’s comments were appalling, and that he was alone in believing the Forum needed an “image makeover”. One of the presenters at the Forum, Heron Resources Managing Director, and Ian Buchhorn said Mr Barn’s comments were “a load of tripe”
Mr Barns provoked a letter from Matthew Blake, which was published in same issue of the Kalgoorlie Miner. Mr Blake said that the criticism was completely unwarranted and"..frankly no more than what I have come to expect from this self proclaimed publicist…there is more than enough mining conferences in swanky city hotels where people chat over cocktails and canapés ,safe from the risk of encountering actual miners or having to see where the mining is done.”
Mr Blake said that “typical of so many republicans, Greg Barns seems to dislike ordinary Australians and their way of life: their hotels aren’t up to scratch; their barmaids are too down to earth; their towns aren’t suitable for international conferences.”
After last week’s reliance by our republican politicians on a survey of political candidate at their meeting in an alcove in Parliament House, you begin to see what is wrong. They probably say, when they find opposition to a republic, that everyone they know wants a republic. That is the problem.
They should get around and find out what their constituents think.
Until next time,